Uy Hoang – Virtual Garden Tour

Uy Hoang is an innovative participant of the Making Space for Nature programme motivated to increase the visibility and accessibility of community gardens. His unique project involves creating a Virtual Tour of Birchmere Garden in Thamesmead, London. Through constructively combining his passion for nature and skills in photography, he has successfully shared a somewhat hidden space with a vast audience.

innovation to increase the visibility and accessibility of community gardens in Thamesmead, London.

Uy’s enthusiasm for 360-degree photography has led him to collaborate with another local photographer and artist, Sarah Garrod. Uy says, “It builds on top of some work that was being done already and was inspired during the pandemic lockdown as we couldn’t get out and about.” This project makes nature accessible to the public, offering an opportunity to explore gardens from their homes.

This project focused on Birchmere Garden in Thamesmead, a charming space managed by dedicated volunteers. To create the tour, Uy has taken photos of every corner of the garden and Sarah led art workshops with local gardeners. The artwork from these workshops is displayed throughout the gardens, serving as points of interest that viewers can navigate to during the virtual tour.

Many of the gardens in Thamesmead remain undiscovered by the wider public, due to difficult or hidden access and they often lack volunteers to maintain them. Uy says, “Virtual tours have been a popular way to increase visibility, but have not been used previously for Thamesmead gardens or natural resources.” By increasing interest and engagement, Uy also hopes to “attract new volunteers of all ages and inspire more people to take an active interest in the gardens.” 

Uy was able to realise his idea of a virtual tour with the funding he received from the Making Space for Nature programme. With a “quick, easy and painless” grant application process, Uy used the funding to commission the art and photography involved as well as the 3D software needed to create the tour. The virtual tour is designed to be a fun and interesting activity for the general public, while also serving as an engaging educational activity for children. There are audio clips from gardeners providing the opportunity to learn about plant species and the diverse range of wildlife that inhabit the garden.

Following the success of this pilot project, Uy envisions creating tours of other community gardens in Thamesmead. There is a lot of potential for the future as Uy has many innovative ideas to expand and diversify these tours, such as capturing images “during different seasons to showcase how the gardens change throughout the year, viewers would be able to select which season they’d like to explore, from winter to summer, and beyond.”

Uy’s Virtual Garden Tour project is a fantastic example of how technology can be used to increase the accessibility of public spaces and bring nature to a wider audience. By combining his passion for photography with his desire to increase community engagement, Uy has created a unique and innovative way to showcase community gardens and encourage people to explore new places. The project not only provides a fun and interesting activity for the general public but also has the opportunity to serve as an engaging educational tool for children. With the potential to expand and diversify the tours, Uy’s project has the power to inspire more people to take an active interest in the gardens and the natural world around them.

Explore Birchmere Garden in Thamesmead!

Created by Uy Hoang in March 2023, with help from local artist Sarah Garrod and local gardeners Bryan Lockwood, Beryl Covington and Tracey Gregg. Photos by Sarah Garrod.

Did you enjoy reading about this innovative way to uncover Thamesmead’s community gardens? Read more stories from Making Space for Nature participants in Thamesmead:

Using Art to Connect Community With Nature

Making Waves In The Fight Against Waste: Community-Led Action

Unleashing Your Inner Child: The Story Of The Moss Monsters

Building Bridges Through Bird Boxes: Empowering Young People For Environmental Change

Making Space for Nature

The Making Space for Nature (MSFN) programme is part of the CLEVER Cities project in Thamesmead, London, that provides opportunities for local residents to create a greener and happier community through innovative solutions. MSFN is managed by CLEVER CitiesGroundwork LondonPeabody and Greater London Authority.