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Stewart, S., 2021.

Urban Workbench - citizen-driven placemaking

Output Type:Other form of assessable output

Since June 2017, this research, conducted in collaboration with Urban Workbench, has explored how co-design and making can act as a catalyst for placemaking. It seeks to promote well-being and capacity of citizens through co-creation of 'place'. It explores the intersection between making and dialogue to investigate how this can enhance self-confidence and perceptions of spatial ownership and stewardship (whether in personal or communal space).
This advances existing work, such as that by Assemble (Architects), who develop objects with community involvement, within the Granby Four Streets project. Such work is craft-driven and creatively led by the practitioner, with the sense of place emerging in the sourcing of materials and installation within refurbished homes, whereas this research focuses on the co-design process as catalyst.
This investigation is conducted in 2 settings:
on site within neighbourhoods; co-design sessions commence with dialogue to establish personal interests, skills and needs. This is the focus for creative co-creation for private and shared space, driven by participants.
within a learning programme based within our own workshop space; the co-design process starts with didactic tuition, quickly leading into collective co-design and making to produce 'gifts' for 'places' within local neighbourhoods.
An  integral part of this investigation is the assessment of social impact; measuring how processes address issues of individual well-being, skills and in turn confidence and capacity. This looks not only at the individual, but how groups function together. The social impact measurements are captured with face-to-face questions at the start and progression points of projects, with insights into levels of self-confidence, skills and social progression. The growing evidence base reinforces how the act of making, (individually and collectively) is cognitively akin to the process of therapy .