St. Martins College of Art and Design: Suburban Storytelling

Part of: a series of workshops for changing urban environment


Sarah Featherstone, Jona Piehl – Spatial Practices Programme, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design

A set of small interventions can have a large impact.
Change starts from within: this workshop will develop physical and performative interventions to engage the community and invite them to share their thoughts and stories. The students will then produce and test tangible design interventions and consider ways in which these proposals can be communicated to and fostered by the community. The newspaper medium will be considered an important voice and medium for communication to reach both the community and outside agencies. The aims of the project are to develop strategies to surface and express the identity of communities and places and further, to facilitate communication between residents and local government.

‘The Derive’ – Starting point of the project is the location and its inhabitants. The insights from a team-based derive to observe, explore and map the location will form the basis for the next steps.

‘The Constructed Situation’ – Working with a specific space and its related audience, each group will devise a catalogue of questions they have for the space and the community. From these, the teams will develop a constructed situation that provokes and engages the community to share their stories, thoughts, concerns, and aspirations. Brought into the physical space the constructed situation is a form of action research and the outcomes will be synthesised into interventions that take the stories from the community back to them, to act both as communication catalysts within the community and in its face to the wider urban environment.

Learning outcomes
Working collaboratively in cross-disciplinary teams, developing a wider range of active, physical, creative research methods strictly in response to the specifics of a site and its audiences
Understanding the impact of social narratives and working with them to better connect people with environments.

Staging of a series of small-scale physical interventions
Small-scale physical interventions (these could for example include lights, street furniture, buildings, posters, events).
Documentation (depending on the interventions this could be via the district newspaper, video, website).