Handspring was asked by landscape architects on behalf of Coventry City Council to design an entranceway as part of the refurbishment of Swanswell Park, situated on the edge of the city centre. Handspring used some gothic elements in the park as a starting point.
The original design proposal featured ten arches, all with a twist but, due to budget constraints, a design with three arches was selected. The structure needed to be solid, and vandal- and arson-resistant as the park has a history of anti-social behaviour, which the refurbishment will hopefully tackle to some degree.
Handspring's design has three large gothic arches, each twisted to the next, slotted into steel box sections to make setting fire to them very difficult. There was also the inclusion of a bench, partly to encourage the public to follow the pathways and not cut across the corner of the park. Due to the very close, very large horse chestnut tree careful consideration had to be given to the foundations. As a result the pad next to the tree is above ground, sits on top of the footings of a demolished wall and bridges over the tree roots.
The arches are made from freshly sawn UK FSC Douglas Fir. The curves have been profile cut from 2500 x 400 x 200mm sections and joined to make the legs for the arches. These joints were wedged, tabled scarf joints, which were glued and fixed with M8 stainless screws. The top joint is a draw doweled bridle joint and the braces are draw doweled mortice and tenoned with a cross halving joint in the middle.
The whole structure was made in Handspring's workshop in Sheffield, then transported by lorry to Coventry. With the use of a telehandler the structure was installed at Swanswell Park in just half a day.