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Manchester to play host to the UK's first 'on-demand' garden

The residents of Manchester will soon be able to book a slot within the UK’s first ‘on-demand’ garden space. The pilot project called ‘Plot’, which launches as part of the urban gardening festival Dig the City, explores the idea of creating private garden spaces that can be booked by the hour within city centres.

The project was created by digital design company magneticNorth in response to the move towards people’s preference to stream rather than buy and the shift in consumer appetite towards access to goods and services instead of owning them. They see a similar approach is needed to satisfy people’s desire for green space, particularly in urban areas where availability is limited.

People living in urban areas, specifically those without their own outdoor space, often only desire the use of a garden in the warmer summer months. In addition parks and other public spaces can get over-crowded during the Summer plus people’s busy lives mean they have little time to maintain a garden space of their own. All of this highlights the opportunity for an exciting new solution to this problem which is set to become even more acute with predictions that city centre living is set to rise significantly over the next ten years. The team at magneticNorth believe that the answer lies in the idea of the ‘on-demand’ garden – small private outdoor spaces that are open to all, are flexible in the way they are used and are bookable by the hour.  

The introduction of this new concept means that city residents and workers can still have use of a private garden to read, eat, exercise, come together with friends and hold their meet ups, book clubs and any other group get together within.  

Plot has been by devised by magneticNorth as a pilot project for the ‘Dig the City’ festival that takes place in Manchester between 2nd - 10th August and will be on the roof garden of one of the city's Victorian buildings the Barton Arcade and free to use for the entire period of the pilot . The space is designed to meet the needs of various types of visitors and in addition to power and Wi-Fi it can accommodate everything from a group exercise class through to providing a quiet seat to someone who wants to have their solo afternoon coffee in the sun.

People who’d like to take part in the Plot pilot should visit plotmanchester.com. The garden will only be available to those who book however images and content from the garden will be streamed out via the social media feeds on Twitter and Instagram @plotgarden.  They can follow @digthecitymcr for festival updates and information.

Lou Cordwell, CEO of magneticNorth said “Plot explores the idea of turning outdoor space into a service and, like on-demand TV or music, gives people the chance to use a garden at a time that works for them. When the sun is shining it’s human nature to want to be outside and sometimes you want to enjoy that time in a private space on your terms.  We look forward to seeing how people use the space.”

Nelson Beaumont-Laurencia, Dig the City’s Event Producer, commented; “This is such a unique project to have as a fringe event at Dig the City.  Urban gardening and the need for a space of green to call your own should be for everyone, and Plot is a great experiment to offer this service.”

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Notes to Editor

Plot Manchester has the capacity to host up to 30 people at a time and booking requests can be submitted via plotmanchester.com

The space has been designed by magneticNorth to subtly cross-pollinate technology and horticulture.  Visitors can expect to see sensors in the plants that will tell them when they need to be watered and screens that will give them data about the garden including current temperature and chances of rain. 

The Barton Arcade building is home to a number of independent retailers, food outlets and businesses and the roof garden is not usually accessible by the public. It is managed by The Offices group http://www.bartonarcade.com/

The social media feeds for the Plot project is @plotgarden on both Instagram and Twitter.

About magneticNorth

magenticNorth is an award-winning, independent digital design company based in Manchester. We have a passion for blending digital and physical spaces. Plot is a pilot project and if you'd like to talk to us about your own Plot get in touch with LauraT@thisismN.com.

About Dig the City


Dig the City is Manchester’s urban gardening festival and newest summer attraction. It spans the city centre retail district. The event is organised by the Heart of Manchester Business Improvement District (BID), an independent not-for-profit company managed by CityCo, and governed by a Board of Manchester city centre retailers and stakeholders.

The 2013 event saw over 1 million visitors enjoyed the show gardens, a 75 tree pop-up forest, talks from experts including BBC Gardener’s World presenter Monty Don, free kids' workshops with the National Trust, a Women’s Institute fete, giant art installations by US artist Jason Hackenwerth, plant swaps, a garden disco, markets and much more. The festival won a Commendation at the 2013 UK Event Awards and Gold at the 2013 RHS Britain in Bloom Awards.