The first stage contextualising is about familiarising with the site and the stakeholders; in the second stage mapping the students start to map complexity and work towards gaining a systemic perspective including themselves as actors; in the third stage possibility seeking the aim is to frame as many questions as possible and to refrain from creating solutions; in the fourth stage seeding future visions aims to ask ‘what if?’ and develop future scenarios.
METADESIGNING SPACES OF ENGAGEMENT & EXCHANGE by HEI: Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Bydel Bjerke, Regents University London, Goldsmiths
Metadesigning spaces ofengagement & exchangeCo-designing ‘seeds’ to revitalise a multi-cultural shoppingcentre in Oslo.more on: http://www.socialdesignresponse.com/HEI: Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO) - MA DesignMain Partners: Veivet senter; Bydel Bjerke, Oslo Kommune;Goldsmiths, University of London, Regents University London;Solution Office; Kulturhagen; Place: Veitvet, Oslo.Keywords: Community building; Public spaces; Social enterprise
The context (situation/ challenge):Owners of Veitvet shopping centre, located in Groruddalen, asuburb of Oslo, Norway, in partnership with the local authorities,Bydel Bjerke, were seeking ways to revitalise the centre andreframe its purpose and function as a ‘cultural hub’ for the localresidents. Students from the MA Design programme at KHiOembarked on a four-week ‘socially responsive design’ project incollaboration with local stakeholders. The aim of the project was todevelop ‘pop-up’ creative social enterprises within the centre.
Project Response:The project set out to explore, map and synergise emotional, cultural,social, economic and ecological diversities existing within a multi-cultural shopping and community centre in Veitvet, Oslo. The projectmade use of a range of metadesign tools to facilitate collaborativeand participatory processes with students and the local community.The designers response was to engage disparate user groups in arange of creative activities to develop the centre’s connectivity,communications and identity and to put the shop owners and localcommunity at the centre of it’s revitalisation strategy.
LOCALRESIDENTSKULTURHAGEN,RESIDENT DESIGNERS/ARTISTSVEITVET SHOPOWNERSMETADESIGNFACILITATORSBYDEL BJERKE,LOCAL AUTHORITYVEITVET CENTREUSERSOSLO KOMMUNE,OSLO CITY COUNCILVEITVET CENTREOWNERSKHIO MA STUDENTSProject stakeholders
MA Design students, KHiO, Olso:The collaboration with Veitvet provided a context for the student’s‘Socially Responsive Design’ project brief. They were able to survey,map and create a series of interventions within the shopping centreusing a range of prototyping, visualisation and communicationstrategies. They also brought an outsiders perspective to therevitalisation process. The students were able to experience thevalue of engaging in participatory processes first hand. The studentsidentified how the revitalisation process had been held up by a lackof involvement towards the end by the owners.
Veivet Senter owners:Competition and changing needs in the area have challenged theowners who have partnered up with the local authorities, BydelBjerke, to seek ways reframe the centre’s purpose and function asa ‘cultural hub’ for the local residents, alongside offeringcommercial and public services. The owners of the centrerecognised the positive contribution that creative practitioners canmake in the transition towards a future vision for the centre.The Veivet senter owners provided resources both in terms of on-site studios and funding for prototypes.
Metadesigners Research Group:The metadesign facilitators were able to get the students workingeffectively in groups at the start of the project and to encouragethem to hold back from solving Veitvet’s problems, so as to fullyembrace the complexity of the people and place and to engagemore deeply with the issues and aspirations. The metadesignersoffered faclitation skills, collaborative tools and a process for thisto happen. The project provided a test-bed for the furtherdevelopment of metadesign tools and processes.
Bydel Bjerke, and Oslo KommuneThe project manager, Trude Mette Johansen from the localauthority and a resident herself, identified a need to make otherresidents aware that changes were in motion at Veitvet. They werevery keen to gather fresh input from the students and to includetheir pop-up interventions into the centre’s main hall for maximumexposure. She and her team provided a favourable situation forthe students to carry out their research by facilitating contacts withthe various stakeholders and providing resources.
Kulturhagen:A one-year project (2011-12) initiated by Veitvet senter where arange of designers, architects and artists were allocated free officespaces in the centre in return for three days a month of worktowards the centre’s development and re-branding. Prior to thestudent’s interventions, the creative practitioners working atKulturhagen experimented with using a grass roots andparticipative approach to re-imagining Veitvet. This includessetting up a community driven ‘open library’ and holding a localphotography competition entitled ‘My Veitvet’.
Shop-owners and users of the centre:The residents want the center rehabilitated. They believe that it isimportant for the areas reputation. They want the centre to moveaway from being a mere shopping centre to a ‘sentrum’ a meetingplace for the community. The shop keepers had no union toorganise their efforts and the locals have a diverse range of ideasfor activities that already take place and could take place in thecentre in the future.
The metadesign process had four key stages: contextualising,mapping, possibility seeking and seeding future visions. The studentscollaborated in multi-disciplinary teams throughout the project andworked co-creatively. We define this process as moving from ‘me’ to‘we’, where teams develop their identity through cycles of individualand collective action and reflection.INDIVIDUALTEAMPARTNERSLOCAL COMMUNITYGLOBAL COMMUNITYREFLECTIONACTIONMEWE
Tools & methods: we applied six different metadesign toolsthroughout the one-week process. Cultural Props: is used tointroduce all of the stakeholders to each other; Collective Story-telling and Values Quest: guides the design students from anindividual design perspective to becoming part of a team; HolisticMapping: aims to engage with the local context and the emergingcomplexity; Bisociating Diversities: moves into rapid prototypingand idea generation; Future Scenarios: is about seedingcollective visions and the design of collaborative interventions.
Role of DesignDesign strengthened the communications between different localgroups within the Veitvet centre, through creating small-scaleinterventions that encouraged participation and conversation. Thestudents were introduced to metadesign tools and process whichthey in turn facilitated, adapted and tested with the local residentsand shopping centre users. Here, ‘design as planning’ is replacedwith ‘design as seeding’ (Ascott cited in Giaccardi, 2005) and ‘designas problem solving’ gives way to ‘design as possibility seeking’(Mizuuchi, 2006) to envision a more creative and sustainable socialenvironment.
Project output and impact: The aim was never to provide finalsolutions but to co-design ‘toolkits’ to facilitate engagement andexchange that would be further developed by the centre’sstakeholders. In terms of social innovation, three different proposalswere handed over to Bydel Bjerke: One focused on a joint venture forlocal shops to self-organise; another focused on getting users of thecentre to engage in volunteering; and the last focused on a grow-kitfor the local kindergarden. The impact of the toolkits at Veivet isdifficult to evaluate, however the local authority worker said that thetoolkits developed by the students provided new insights into ways ofworking with participation and that interventions had spurred moreengagement amongst the centre’s users.
Learning outcomes:Students: Learnt how to focus on a process-driven, possibility-seeking approach, rather than problem solving and therefore to workwith emergence. Also working in multi-disciplinary teams theydeveloped transferable skills and methods for collaborative andparticipatory design. The value of contagious optimism!KHiO: Gained access to holistic & creative methodologies facilitatedthrough a Metadesign process. Communicating ideas to a range ofstakeholdersVeivet Senter: How to focus more on bottom-up approaches and thatyet with simple means, change can happen.
Successes and Shortcomings/ Barriers and EnablersThe students learnt how to design with a local community andunderstood the value and creative reward that comes out of this wayof working. The union for shop keepers was a key positive outcomethat emerged out of their collaborations. The spirit of the project, theenergy and the shared learning resonated after the event. The projectwas only a four week experiment and could have gone further. TheVeitvet owners were a barrier as they were not very explicit abouttheir agenda. Whilst they didn’t attend the final presentations thestudent’s identified that the community were committed to thecentre’s future – through empowering the community change couldhappenKey enablers:• Our relationship with the local authority.• Veitvet was a sympathetic test-bed as the centre had already invitedcreative people in to re-imagine its future.• There was a small amount of funding to develop an intervention