Library of social infrastructure

Front gardens are often a neglected part of our neighbourhoods. Many have been paved over and turned into car parks or been neglected and become overgrown. The Library of Social Infrastructure project is all about creating a kit-of-parts for communities to retrofit their front gardens with flatpack furniture that encourages neighbourliness and creates space for nature.  

In Knowle West, approximately one third of front gardens have been paved over for parking. Harking back to the original concept of the “Garden City”, we’ve worked with local residents to create space for nature and neighbourliness across Knowle West. 

The library aims to support the growth of tangible infrastructure to make space for shared community life, and in the process grow social connections, relationship, trust and stewardship at the neighbourhood level. 

This concept for a Library of Social Infrastructure has grown organically from WeCanMake’s focus on meeting household needs in new, community-led ways. This means not treating housing delivery in isolation, but to think about the infrastructure that support the wider neighbourhood to thrive. 

We are collaborating with Dallas-based nonprofit Better Block, who educate, equip and empower communities to reshape and reactivate the built environment to promote healthy and vibrant neighbourhoods. The project is kindly supported by the National Lottery. 


In January 2023, our community gathered for a neighbourhood meet up to come up with ideas of pieces of furniture that they’d like to see in Knowle West front gardens. Ideas ranged from work-out equipment to rain-water irrigation systems, and what we heard from local people led us to develop a kit of parts that were designed to be cut on a CNC machine in our local micro-factory and easily assembled by hand with no previous experience required. We used the ideas to curate a collection of designs from the libraries of WikiBlock and the Factory, to retrofit Knowle West front gardens into outdoor spaces that promote socialising and connecting with nature. The kit includes a bench, rocking chair, planter fence, games table, hedgehog house and little library for book sharing. 

Manuals + making

Like anyone who’s ever put any flatpack furniture together, you’ll know how frustrating it can be when the instructions don’t make sense. We created manuals for two pieces of furniture from the Wikiblock library, and hosted a workshop to test them out with two local residents with varying levels of experience in furniture assembly. Together, Hannah and Jayvon used the manuals to assemble the furniture for the first time, giving us feedback on how both the manuals and the furniture design itself might be improved.

A library of designs will soon be available to download and take to your local chop shop. Visit our map to find your nearest chop-shop!

Front garden hosts

A busy community assembly day in May resulted in two weather-treated (see material testing below) furniture kits ready to be hosted in two local the front gardens, filled with plants from local resident Don’s greenhouse.

From May to early July, our hosts Maria + Hamish and Rosa + Chris recorded their usage of the kit through photos, videos and text messages. We dropped around to Rosa + Chris’ house for our summer neighbourhood meet in early June to see how the kit was faring!

Files + manuals


Coming soon…

Materials testing


For furniture designed to live outside, it’s key that we use the most durable and environmentally-friendly materials and treatments. This winter and into spring, we have been testing out 36 different combinations of sheet material and treatments – from Marine Ply to chipboard, Osmo to Rubio, we’ve put the furniture through the wringer of the Bristol weather. 

We will be leaving our samples out in the elements for another few months, so watch this space for the results! 


  • Better Block – We are collaborating with Dallas-based nonprofit Better Block, who educate, equip and empower communities to reshape and reactivate the built environment to promote healthy and vibrant neighbourhoods.
  • National Lottery – This project is kindly supported by the National Lottery.