Place Maker Space

Co-designing the future of the neighbourhood using 'dig-tools's
3D printing our visions for the neighbourhood
Augmented reality map to capture visions from the community
Community Place-Making
Using gaming platform Minecraft for the creation of interactive visions
Community Place-Making
Place-Making + Maker Space = The Place-Maker-Space
Using ageing apps to facilitate empathy in young people

Place-Making + Maker Space = The Place-Maker-Space

The Community21 Place Maker Space is Brighton's answer to the 'Urban Room' idea suggested in the government commissioned Farrell Review 2014. It is a space for people who are actively making and envisioning places, or communities to come together and use various 'place-maker' tools to help create collaborative visions for their neighbourhoods.

The localism bill, neighbourhood plans and all manner of community planning processes and legislation ask communities to 'devise visions for their community' - but how do they do this!?

Community21 researchers along with our graduate social enterprise partners BlockBuilders and Exploring Senses have a developed range of engaging, creative tools which have been co-designed through collaborative research with communities to enable community envisioning.

We are in the final throws of completion the collaboration space is nearing launch, the digital engagement tools are ready and the methodologies are in place and evolving day by day.

If you have a community planning project, or of you want to develop an area of your neighbourhood and need inspiration and accessible methods to form creative visions for making your place better then we would be keen to hear from you.

We will be evaluating the role and value of such a space over the next year and testing a range of engagement and collaborative design activities with diverse communities, community support agencies and stakeholders. We aim to support the development of a network of such spaces with partner organisations, communities and places.

The Place-Maker-Pace was co-funded by University of Brighton and U+I PLC as part of FIELD BTN.

The Place-Maker-Space in use

click to view (added 6/3/16)

Inclusive creative consultation

Inclusive engagement

We have been using our 'dig-tools' which are proven methods for engaging diverse sectors of the community in the inclusive, creative development of visions for the future of their neighbourhood.

If you are based in Brighton (or not) and would like to bring a community group to creatively explore the potential development or issues in your community - get in touch!

Place-Maker-Space Research

Nick Gant founder of Community21 and The Place-Maker-Space
Joe Palmer and Megan Leckie, graduate enterprise Blockbuilders
Dave Allistone from graduate social enterprise Exploring Senses
3D printing co-designed visions

The Place-Maker-Space is a physical room centrally located in the city and is specifically intended to generate collaborative debate and creative interaction between universities, the public and private sector and communities (Farrell Review 2014). It will be used by university academics, students, graduate groups, planning officials, private companies and community members. As a physical extension of the Community 21 digital website it also forms part of a broader ‘Maker-Space’ movement which has seen the development of communal craft and technology workshops which help form social bonds and develop new skills within communities through acts of making (Hatch, 2014; Halse et al, 2010).

Our work on the Community21 digital platform has demonstrated the role making can have in engaging different groups and communities (Gant & Duggan, 2013) through the fabrication of tools, objects and products. The Place-Maker-Space provides the physical space and relevant software to enable groups to come together to develop collective visions for places making community and neighbourhood planning a more democratic process (DCLG 2015). As such the university plays a significant role in engaging local communities and helping them to engage with and shape their locality in a way that is both creative and informed. (see Making Futures, 2015).

Research questions the space and broader Community21 research explores include:

What role might digital and physical making methods and spaces perform in the engagement of communities in forming collaborative visions for the future their neighbourhood?

Examples of the methods we have used historically include:

  1. The production of augmented reality techno-town-tapestries where ‘hard-to-reach’ or disenfranchised groups can use animation apps to ‘characterise’ problems or ideas in anonymous ways and communicate them back to the community through a publically accessible, intelligent interface.

  2. Minecraft (a popular computer game) which engages young people in the co-production of highly interactive, ‘gamified’ and realistic virtual simulations of their lived or imagined spaces that can be shared locally or globally (Reckien & Eisenack, 2010).

  3. Ageing apps and role play apps that visually illustrate someone’s own ageing process to elicit empathy in younger people or enable the anonymous expression of ideas and issues.

The Community21 initiative with its digital and physical spaces provide an opportunity to co-define the challenges and concerns for research and practice with different urban and rural communities. From a university perspective, this process is invaluable in helping to ensure the continued relevance of our teaching and research in subjects such as design, planning, urbanism, social science, geography etc. Moreover it is also helping to redefine these subject areas away from static notions of disciplinary distinction, into inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary engaged activity that involves stakeholders, transcends boundaries and is responsive to changing contexts. Through co-production and co-defined spaces we are able to make meaningful and useful applied place-based interventions, connecting communities (Sawhney et al, 2015) for sustainability and resilience (Manzini 2015; Horlings 2015; Frankin & Marsden, 2015). Together they illustrate how virtual and physical spaces both play a role in meaningful engagement.