Client: Sandwell MBC Partnerships – Housing Directorate
Partners: LearnPlay Foundation
Brief: To develop an innovative method to engage young people into a neighbourhood planning exercise and help them put forward ideas for their estate’s design.
Solution: A two-pronged approach was taken to help overcome what was seen as an ambivalent approach to being involved in the neighbourhood planning process. The first involved the creation of ‘The Den’, a competition based loosely on the popular television programme and in which pupils from Q3 Academy, the school servicing the Durham Estate, were put into teams and given a brief to create designs for their estate and present a business case for the designs to an assembled panel of judges.
The judges were chosen from regeneration professionals who warmed to the task by putting the teams through their paces. In turn the teams were extremely professional in that they appointed students to be business managers, project managers and construction managers to best present their respective cases for estate improvement.
They also used an interactive games-based toolkit to build and present their estate designs, a notable feature of the Game-Plan solution.
The second approach was to conduct sessions at the nearby Tanhouse Community Centre in which young people off the estate and nearby took part in gaming sessions and in using the toolkit to come up with estate designs thus helping with the consultation and participation elements of the neighbourhood planning process.
Outcome: The Den proved to be a hugely successful exercise with pupils, teaching staff, the Headteacher and the regeneration professionals making up the judging team all acknowledging it as a a fun and productive way of involving young people in neighbourhood planning.
In total well over 100 young people took part in the two exercises thus providing valuable additional responses to the neighbourhood planning exercise and in addition enhanced the linkages between the Housing Directorate and the local community especially the local secondary school.
Client: Ormiston Education
Brief: Ormiston Education are in the process of developing a new multi-million digital and performing arts academy for Birmingham to be opened in 2011. To compliment the development and to support the digital focus Ormiston Education requested to take advantage of our 3D design services to create an immersive prospectus for students and staff.
Solution: We are currently in the process of working with Nicholas Hare Architects and Ormiston Education to develop an exact virtual replica of the planned Academy.
Outcome: The virtual Birmingham Ormiston Academy will be used as part of the marketing strategy due to start in September 2010.
Ormiston Education – The Brit School
Client: Urban Living
Partners: Multistory – Architecture 00:/ – Professor Nabeel Hamdi – Architecture Sans Frontière – MADE
Toolkit co-developed by: Digital Query
Brief: Urban Living, the housing pathfinder for Birmingham and Sandwell, started the Sense of Place project in 2009 with the idea to strengthen local people’s involvement in shaping the places where they live, particularly through spatial plans and neighbourhood management plans. The two pilot areas, the neighbourhoods around Soho Road and Dudley Road in Birmingham, were chosen because of their potential to accommodate housing growth and to strengthen community cohesion.
As well as local residents, business people, council officers and the Urban Living team, an expert group was needed to deliver a collaborative approach to neighbourhood planning. As well as Digital Native Academy the professional team included Multistory, a local arts organization; Architecture 00:/, strategy, research and design; Professor Nabeel Hamdi, advisor to the United Nations; Architecture Sans Frontière, participatory arts; CUDOS, the Centre for Urban Design Outreach and Skills and MADE, the Regional Architecture Centre in the West Midlands.
Solution: The project consisted of three key phases:
- the mapping activity to better understand the study area and what the local issues were. Also what works well and what doesn’t, what local people like, what they don’t like and why. The piloting of a range of different approaches and promoting awareness of the project.
- organising catalyst events to share project findings with local people and working with them to scope out the potential for follow-up projects,
- a dissemination event to share findings with a professional audience.
In order to capture a wide diversity of lived realities, it was appropriate to use a range of different approaches to the mapping and catalyst stages. Three project-wide elements were added to this approach:
- the creation of a digital toolkit (by DNA) both as a mapping methodology to directly capture local information, particularly working with young people, and to communicate findings to a wider audience.
- the recruitment and training of four local Community Researchers to be involved in the mapping process and catalyst events, as well as to take the project forward after the completion of this commission.
- ongoing evaluation and reflection throughout the project, through workshops led by Nabeel Hamdi
Outcomes: The successful development of the Soho Foundation digital toolkit which is now being used to effectively engage with residents in the locale to capture their stories and represent their views about their neighborhoods.
The commissioning of Sense of Place 2 to carry out training workshops for policy makers, neighbourhood managers and community representatives in how best to utilise the Sense of Place approach and meet with the emerging co-production agenda.
The Sense of Place project has been shortlisted for a Homes and Communities Agency award in the Leadership of Place category.
Links: Soho Foundation site – Digital Query – Sense of Place Evaluation Report – Sense of Place project video – Openly Local: Hyper Local Directory