Auchencairn community project announced as overall winner of national prize

Auchencairn garden
Auchencairn garden

Auchencairn Link-Park, a community led project to transform wasteland at the centre of the village of Auchencairn into a thriving community garden and learning space, has today been announced the overall winner of the first ever Carnegie Prize for Design and Wellbeing.

The prize has been awarded in partnership with the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) and the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) and celebrates projects where local communities have played a leading role in improving public spaces in town centres through high quality design and architecture.

Phoebe Marshall, Auchencairn Community Garden (overall winner) said: “We are delighted with the recognition of our work with the community. Throughout, this project has been about people, and whilst community workshops and work parties are not always the simplest way to create a garden, it is an approach which creates great experiences, knowledge, new friendships and a beautiful space that will be used by the whole village for a range of activities.

“The project has really brought the community together and we are immensely proud of the energy and enthusiasm local people have given to transform Auchencairn Link park from a disused field into the lovely garden that it is today.”

The announcement came on the same day as the Carnegie UK Trust published a new report which highlights the importance of well-designed public spaces, such as parks, town squares, local streets and community gardens to people’s health and wellbeing.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, explains more: “There is a clear link between the quality of our local environment and our wellbeing. Our intention with the Carnegie Prize for Design and Wellbeing was to shine a spotlight on the important role that well-designed, community-led, public spaces can play in supporting good mental and physical health, providing places for people to come together and facilitating local enterprise and regeneration. Our 5 inspirational prize winners and the overall winner do just that.”

“However well-designed community led public spaces should be the rule not the exception. That is why today we set out 5 actions that policymakers can take to ensure that more communities have access to good quality public spaces.”

The Prize which was launched in March 2014 was open to community led townscape improvement projects across Scotland and Northern Ireland. The 5 winners who received a prize of £2,500 each were unveiled at the RIAS convention in May. The Auchencairn project will also receive an additional £1,000 in recognition of their outstanding achievement.

Iain Connelly, President of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), said: ‘’I was delighted to be involved in the judging for the Carnegie prize for Design and Wellbeing. There is no doubt in my mind that good design most certainly does make a difference – and potentially, a significant difference – to the lives and wellbeing of communities and individuals across Scotland. Good design doesn’t have to be expensive, so it shouldn’t be seen as an extra. Rather, it should be present in everything we do, for every project, however big, however small.’’