Year | 2021
Location | Goldthorpe, Barnsley Council, UK
Client | Dearne Area Council, Discover Dearne

Goldthorpe is a former mining village in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Following the success of a previous SSOA Live Project, Barnsley Council enlisted students to reimagine another underused site in Goldthorpe. The brief was to develop an overgrown woodland site, known locally as the ‘Old Orchard’, in partnership with a nearby school, Astrea Academy Dearne, to create an asset that could be owned and run by the local community.

We were tasked with developing a whole site design strategy that could promote sustainability, well-being and outdoor learning. It was important to the client that the scheme be broken down into a series of individual design interventions, giving them an overall vision to aspire to, but the ability to fund and deliver it incrementally. This led us to develop three themed pathways through the woodland, each incorporating small, medium and large scale interventions. 

Community and stakeholder engagement was a vital part of creating a sense of communal ownership of the site. The team carried out in person and online questionnaires, focus groups and a school craft workshop, to aid our understanding of the community’s needs, define the brief and publicise the project. The school workshop was a particularly important stage in the process as it gave us the opportunity to hear what students wanted from an outdoor learning and leisure space, and this informed our eventual outcomes. 

The main design output was a phased masterplan for the entire site, featuring the three defined pathways; a biodiversity route, a community well-being route and a history and memory route. We designed a series of built interventions, such as climbing structures and outdoor classrooms along the community well-being route, and bird towers and bug hotels along the biodiversity route. All interventions are accompanied by design guides that include technical drawings, materials and costings, and will aid the client as they apply for funding. Further project outputs include design guide booklets, a prototype project website and an interactive 360 VR tour. The VR tour provides an invaluable tool for communicating our vision to the clients, the school and potential future funders in an engaging way, and will continue the legacy of the Live Project as the Goldthorpe Pathways site evolves.


Mentor: Yussur Al-Chokhdar
Client: Barnsley Council and Discover Dearne
Location: Goldthorpe, Barnsley
Students: Chingis Aitzhanov, Chris Pate, Aoife Gilchrist, Glenn
Strachan, Jennie Lua, Ali Francis, Krittika Jain, Matthew Allen, Mia
Owen, Shurou Luo, Sijin Ji, Thomas Ruff, Xinyu Zhang, Yuan Lou,
Ziyi Li