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Posted 22.06.20

Plymouth College of Art helps create sustainable natural spaces across the city with Green Minds

By Naomi Girdler

Final logo designed by Elena Ruiz Ballestero

Plymouth College of Art is one of the key partners of Green Minds, a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) programme funded project that aims to plan and manage the green spaces of Plymouth. Led by Plymouth City Council and with other partners including the University of Plymouth, the National Trust, Devon Wildlife Trust, Real Ideas Organisation and The Data Place Ltd, the project aims to bring forward innovative and future-proofed ideas and create sustainable solutions within urban development.

Plymouth is one of the most unique and diverse natural environments of any city in the country with over 30 per cent of the city designated as green space. As part of the city’s growth, it’s important to encourage residents from across the city to embrace the outdoors.

Using scientific and creative digital tools, Green Minds focuses on making nature more visible and exciting and combines urban development and land management to inspire people to change their attitudes and behaviours through urban rewilding projects. 

Logo concepts by Elena Ruiz Ballestero

Plymouth College of Art is taking a lead in the creative, visual and design-based aspects of Green Minds. Students from our BA (Hons) Graphic Communication course have been given a brief to design the brand identity and vision for the project, providing assets such as brand guidelines, logos, letterheads, banners and other resources like motion graphics and social media designs.

Elena Ruiz Ballestero is a third-year BA (Hons) Graphic Communication student who has taken part in the brief. Taking inspiration from Plymouth itself, Elena has begun developing her ideas into a brand identity for the project.

"Having the opportunity to pitch to live clients is invaluable in developing vital industry skills, with the added bonus that we’re also contributing towards a Plymouth initiative - investing in our community."
- Amanda Duffin, Subject Leader for BA (Hons) Graphic Communication

Elena said: “When I start a new project, regardless of whether it's a college brief, live brief or a competition, the first thing I do is research, allowing the creative process to begin. Green Minds aims to improve the green areas of Plymouth and divides the city into five areas. The idea to illustrate this concept led me to realise that the shape of a brain looks like a topographic map, hence I designed a ‘topographic map’ based on the areas in Plymouth. I’ve used generative design, a design process that generates a certain number of outputs, to distinguish the different areas.

The Green Minds Project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund Urban Innovative Actions programme

“Live briefs and design competitions are essential for the development of the career of a graphic designer. I usually take part in two or three briefs and competitions per year. One of the benefits is being able to build a bigger portfolio from live projects, not just your coursework. Secondly, it allows me to improve and develop my learning while on my degree. They also help teach us how to present, talk in public, liaise with a client, and it’s no bad thing when you get paid too!”

Subject Leader for BA (Hons) Graphic Communication, Amanda Duffin said: “Having the opportunity to pitch to live clients is invaluable in developing vital industry skills, with the added bonus that we’re also contributing towards a Plymouth initiative - investing in our community.

“Elena has produced some exciting first stage visual concepts, which have been pitched to the council and we are currently working on finalising the project. The new identity will be used throughout the city, to inspire people to change through creating green mindsets.”

Illustrated notes by Abigail Bicknell

BA (Hons) Illustration students have also been involved in the project. Abigail Bicknell and Elizabeth Styles, both second years on the course, attended the first Green Minds meeting and took illustrated notes. These illustrations serve as visual representations of the project, interpreting how they saw Green Minds evolving and how the college would be involved going forward.

Head of Development at Plymouth College of Art, Ian Hutchinson said: “The Green Minds project is another great example of collaboration in Plymouth, bringing together the environmental, educational and creative sectors. Given the present global pandemic situation, there isn’t a more relevant time to consider, re-imagine and re-engage with Plymouth’s parks and green spaces.

Illustrated notes by Elizabeth Styles

“Plymouth College of Art’s creative graduates and staff will play a pivotal role in the shaping and development of this project through live briefs, creative intervention and research opportunities that span our creative learning and social justice agenda. We are delighted to be at the beginning of this collaborative journey that contributes to the health and wellbeing and blue and green infrastructure of our city.”

Plymouth College of Art has actively embraced sustainable practices throughout the facilities from reducing food waste and increasing recycling to reducing our carbon footprint with the use of electric vehicles and LED lighting as well as switching to a 100% renewable energy tariff, meaning all electricity used across campus is from solar, wind or hydro sources.