IPCUK Convergence site design. Part 3: playing with design options

Later that evening we cut out sections of post it notes and played with some Planning For Real options on the base map of the site.

Gilwell Park is laid out in ways to be able to segregate different groups who may be staying on the site at the same time for different reasons. It is conceivable that 4 different groups could be using the site at one time and not really be aware of each other. This is great when the group sizes are one to two hundred.

We have the exciting remit of designing for an event that could range from 400-900 attendees, depending on ticket sales. This gives us many options for how we could use the site, none of which seem to ‘perfectly’ fit the bill, yet many give some very exciting potential for creative solutions.

Over the evening we came up with 7 different options for general pattern layout utilising different areas of the site and with options to include or exclude certain buildings.

Some of the considerations we had in mind were:

  • Ease of movements

  • Acoustics

  • Aesthetics

  • Accessibility

  • Non-lit / lit areas

  • Minimal external noise

  • Sight lines - perceived distance

  • Perceived sense of security

  • Immediate basic needs: eat, drink, poo, sleep (zone radiating out from the accommodation and catering lodges)


Photos were taken of each option and then we played with another. This very much took on the feel of a brain storm, lots of ‘what ifs’ and allowing ourselves the freedom to explore without having to justify or challenge. This allowed us to come up with some wild design solutions that may be some of most fitting options.

Reality checking

Friday was spent reality-checking some of the options: out in the field - measuring tapes in hand, and on the spreadsheet - looking at the budget, exploring what options we could potentially afford with differing ticket sales numbers.

We drew up a list of next steps, further questions for Hannah Morrice (Gilwell Park) and made a plan to meet up at the Inkpot (a LAND centre in Lincolnshire, and Hannah Thorogood’s home farm) to use the office space on Monday.

On Monday we took each of the potential design patterns and considered their suitability, again calling on Edward de Bono - this time in the use of his PMI tool.

Design Option




  1. Main street


Hard standing

Accessible from lodges

Wheelchair friendly

Lit at night

Centralised - heart in the physical centre

Away from a lot of kids activities and wedding

Universally understood settlement pattern of main street in centre of residence.

Trees for shade, decoration and tarps, etc

Big space location - can fit 30mx30m space there, not too noisy

Cafe & street food in middle near catered spaces means people can be catered from different spaces and still eat together.

Building site

Possibly too close to lodges - noise

On a road - feeling

Through traffic

Market space would need weatherproof stalls?

A high density feeling of elements

Family camping next to big space (loud).

Not sure if we can have exclusive use of the car park section.

High density of the food elements

Cinema would need to be shifted slightly

Kids area next to building site

Crew camping quite far away.

2. Essex Chase

Use of lid - Wifi, existing structure,

Camp square - piazza style hang out space

Use of drink serve over for juice bar potential

Use of existing landscaped fire circles

Lovely feel to Essex chase

No noise from road

Away from building site & wedding

Can hear birds

Lighting and electricity points

Close to swimming pool

Close to view over London

Hard standing track through the middle

Pre-erected marquee

Using the Swan & Gidney

Large amount of mature trees

Use of lid - noise levels

Long way from lodges

Only one set of toilets there

Kids activities in the middle of the space

Teen space a long way from activities

Kids space & family camping near bomb hole

Early bird camping vary far from lodges

Worst drainage on site

Long way from vehicle entrance point (north gate)

Crew camping long way from main activities.

People may eat street food rather than walk to lodges

Bar 2 quite far from activities.

3. Training ground lidless

Got a nice feel

Familiar to 2014 participants

Uses Gidney & Swan

Nice village green style of space

Closer to accommodation than Essex

Self catering has the patrol cabin ‘kitchen’

Kids area in the wooded area, near activities.

Away from build site & road

All power for Training ground all comes out of one plug on the side of Swan.

Long way from toilets

Orchard is rented for Saturday

Awkward passage to lodges

Family camping in a long way from food & toilets

Well being area a long way from water & toilets

Difficult vehicle access

Track from orchard to Mallinsons was muddy Sep 14 (rest of site pretty dry)

Training ground would be density populated if large numbers of attendees

Big space would dominate the space.

Less versatile couldn’t just add in more structures.

Using nice wooded spaces.

No existing light structures

No existing fire circles.

Well being area in the woods out of sight

Closer to Mosque, Sala, Chapel & Synagogue

More suitable for 500 than 900

Would need thunderboxes or equivalent.

4. Training ground + Lid

As above

Utilising the existing structures of lid, classrooms 1&2

As above - but big space not in training ground

Kids space a long way from activities

Long and complicated walk back to night owls camping - potentially past family camping

Bar 2 could be noisier if in tent.

Using all the structures - potentially expensive compared to other options

Very spread out - 4 different centres of activities, lots of walking

As above

Using more of the site

Crew camping would need to be shifted.

Bar 2 close to the wellbeing area

5. Branchett

More compact / consolidated design

Scalable design

Flexible layout

Kids area more integrated with family camping, accommodation, food, fire, toilets etc

Good facilities nearby

Really good emergency access

Close to food & accommodation - visible

Close to parking - for access to valuables.

Teenspace near cafe and gate for helping.

Further away from GP activities

“night owls lodge” (incl. bar, fire,...)

Shop is long way from self catering.

Self catering is a long way from most things.

Close to road

Less sheltered

Building site close to some camping.

Bottleneck at entrance?

Family camping - could have limited size or spillover might mean night owls walking past

Using none of GPs permanent structures

6. North-East Branchett

Everything closer to lodges - one of the closest options.

Equidistant to different camping options

Teenspace near cafe, cinema, gate

Use of Northgate avoids traffic build up

Shop in good place for self catering

Info point central

Nice cluster of bar, cinema, cafe etc

Nice kids / family area set up.

Cinema might be drowned out by cafe &/or bar 2 (pub)

Street food a bit out of the way - closer to village green would be better foot fall

Well being quite a long way out of the way

Early birds and family camping don’t have a sound barrier from the main big space.

Could swap campervans and street food.

7. North Gilwell

Nicely spread across the section of site

Good spread of toilets

Spread out with easy flow

Everything seems to radiate from the lodges

Every element could be scalable

Kids area has toilets, nr food, family camping, water, trees and sheltered

Workshops spaces backing onto road

Surrounding build site

Camping further away from lodges - so doesn’t support the pattern of neighbourhoods with lodges and campers linked

Not a balanced relationship with camping and lodges.

“nothing on” venue in the tented village.

Could populate the walk from Branchet to Woodlands with interesting things

Not using any GP permanent structures

Kids area out of sight of main activities

Next big step in the middle

Teenspace on main thoroughfare

Teenspace could be swapped with cafe

Could move line of tents on Branchet into middle of field (away from road)

Could draw the linear flow away from the build site - (through lodges)


Following the PMI we came to the conclusion not to use the ‘training ground’ as a base. However, we would like to further explore the options of:

  • Main Street

  • Essex Chase

  • Branchett-Versions

  • North Gilwell

Next steps

Our next steps were then to work to scale and draw up some options, with consideration to details in the shortlisted areas. In April there would be a hub meeting of representatives from the different convergence working groups. At this meeting Joe & Hannah would be presenting our preferred decision option(s) for the site layout. The working groups would then be able to give their feedback and we would go to tweak accordingly.

One of the main dependencies we are working with is the number of ticket sales. We will probably need to take a risk and book a large enough structure that can accommodate the bigger end of the range, so we know we can accommodate everyone. This will mean a big financial outlay, so please do not hesitate with booking your tickets.

If you know you want to come, please do book; get your friends and colleagues to book soon, so we have less of a nail-biting experience at this side of the designing pad.