Who should be represented, have space and voice, within our town centres and high streets? What different communities make up our towns and the places we use/live?
This workshops was designed for a session with students of the MA in Interior Architecture at ArtEZ, University of the Arts, Holland.
We were asked by the faculty of Interior Architecture to lead a workshop and engage students in discussion about the use of public space. In exploring the focus for this work a provocation arose around how some "in-between" spaces in Holland are maybe less used, that because living spaces and public spaces are very well designed there is maybe less encouragement to gather and use public spaces, "in-between" that do not have a specific function, like the hallway between flats, or a close between squares.
Am Baile - Your Town in Gaelic - used the context of a fictional town to explore representation of communities in our public spaces.
"Town centres have always contained Public Spaces - communities of people need places to gather together to express their collective (or different) identities...to celebrate, to remember, to protest."
Participants were asked to think of a community that they felt a part of (young people, LGBTQAI+, Rice Eaters...) and to design a flag for that for them represented that community. Participants were then asked to think of a the space that community might need to come together and where it should sit in relation to the centre of our Town Am Baile. This provoked conversations about the places feel, or do not feel welcome, what would make them feel welcome, what spaces compliment each other and which ones maybe do not sit next to each other so well (the Hip District next to the Quiet Space?).
We were not trying to come up with answers but provoke thought and collective discussion around the different needs of people and spaces, who is represented in the planning and decision-making about those spaces and who is not. How easy it is for one group to come to one answer and completely disregard the needs of another.
Matt Baker (Stove Orchestrator), Katie Anderson (Public Art Lead at The Stove)