Week 26 « Designing Dublin: Learning to Learn

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Week 26 – Graduation celebration!

Friday, April 1st, 2011

This Friday, the team gathered to celebrate all of the work we have achieved over the past seven months! The details of the days were kept hidden from the team, with one surprise leading on to another, much to some team member’s frustration!! Quite aptly, the day took in a few of Dublin’s hidden gems; a trip to IMMA, a walk along the Canals and lunch in Nellys Café in Portobello. The team were then whisked off to Woodquay venue for a graduation ceremony, where we were met with close friends of the project. Vannesa presented the journey of Designing Dublin, from the beginning of Clongriffin to the Prototype Extravaganza of Love the City, the outcomes for both the project and it’s participants. Jean Byrne and Jim Dunne spoke about Design Twentyfirst Century and the importance of design to tackle the challenges we are facing in Ireland today. John Tierney, City Manager, and Dick Gleeson, City Planner, spoke about how the City can build on the learning’s of Designing Dublin to develop a new work approach to working in Dublin.

The team were surprised with Love Awards to acknowledge their contribution to the City, team leaders gratefully received Loving Leading Awards and Out Louder’s and project helpers were offered medals to express our appreciation for their effort and dedication to the Love the City project. Another surprise for the gathering was the unveiling of a book of ‘100 exciting things you didn’t know about the City Centre’, which was distributed to past and present Designing Dublin team members and the Steering Group. The graduation ceremony was a suiting conclusion to the Love the City project – filled with empathy, joy and optimism, as well as a few well-timed surprises to keep everyone on their toes!

Week 26 – Prototype extravaganza roll out!

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Today over 2 months of listening, thinking, planning, failing, designing and collaborating collided in the Prototype Extravaganza – Designing Dublin’s version of testing 8 ways of improving the Market’s Area. People from all walks of life – locals, business people, City workers, urban enthusiasts, designers and children – made the Markets Area come to life as they explored the prototypes and influenced how they can be further transformed in future to truly affect collaborative change in the area.

Early in the morning John and Una’s prototype, ‘Golden Path: 250 metres of urban experimentation’, was up for testing. They reclaimed two small sections of Mary Street and Little Mary Street (previously parking spaces) and gave them back to the pedestrians and users of the City, similar to an urban oasis. The Mary Street intervention provided people with an opportunity to step away from the flow of people traffic and sit, chat, reflect and enjoy the character of the area. Little Mary Street offered pedestrians a sanctuary space, where they were instructed to ‘enjoy strolling’, offered stools to sit down and take in the space, cornered off from the road with pallets and cut-offs from trees. From early feedback it is clear that the idea is a great success, with people really enjoying the surprise interventions and businesses in the area prospering from an increase in people stopping to enjoy the spaces. One happy woman eating her dinner on the benches described it as, ‘falling from the universe’!

Micheál was also up early tending to his prototype, ‘Pimp your pavement: An interactive pop-up park’. This project tested how the process of transforming a stale and uncared for space in the City into a lovingly tended park, can spark new interactions and activity in the Markets Area. Micheál rolled grass out, installed hanging baskets, planted herbs and flowers, to create a space for people to meet, play, relax, breath and enjoy. The pop-up park created a fresh atmosphere in the Markets Area with passers-by stopping to take in the unexpected nature, residents meeting, sitting and enjoying the potential of their area and the young in the area learning about plant-life and how to care for the environment. Micheál’s project used nature very effectively in drawing out new and unexpected interactions, bringing a dull corner of the Market’s Area to life!

Tara prototyped a ‘Microcosmic intervention: Turning a tiny corner into a pleasant oasis’ in St. Michan’s flat complex. Tara’s project challenged issues of ownership, citizenship and the fear of public spaces being used for illegal and disruptive purposes. By beginning in a small corner of St. Michan’s flat complex, Tara expressed new ways that collectively owned spaces could be used in the City. The microcosmic intervention featured a mossy mosaic on the walls, a bench and table for relaxing and plant boxes, all made from discarded pallets. The reaction of the residents of St. Michan’s was wonderful, with children doing their homework on the benches and friends and relatives enjoying the new space. The prototype will stay up after the Prototype Extravaganza, so the community in St. Michan’s can take it and make it their own over the long summer days!

The ‘City Works’ project, championed by Nuala created a great degree of interest during the Prototype Extravaganza. ‘City Works’ showcased the stories of 25 people who make the city tick in the form of a people book and people library event. Images of the 25 people were plastered in surprising and stunning locations throughout the Markets Area, from billboard size to the size of a stop sign. The faces crept up on passer-bys, giving insights into their work and passions. The people library event brought the public to meet and talk to some of these people who make the City work, to find out what their work entailed and to discuss the City. ‘City Works’ engaged citizens to find out how we can all work to improve the City, even in the smallest way.

Vincent’s prototype, ‘Urban Living: A destination place to pause, caffeinate, sit, walk, reflect and chat’ was enjoyed by hundreds of people over the day. The project aimed to bring greater vibrancy and diversity to the Markets Area. Vincent hit the streets with a wonderful array of brightly painted and structurally intriguing furniture constructed using pallets. The furniture was arranged neatly outside the Markets building and also used in John and Una’s ‘Golden Path’ prototype on Mary Street. People were found napping, chatting and eating on his friendly and fun seats. A very smartly realised prototype, Vincent’s furniture was the real deal and it did what is said on the tin – delivering diversity and vibrancy in spades!

While walking through the Markets Area during the Prototype Extravaganza, it would have been hard to miss one of Lindsay’s projections, ‘Broadcasting People: A snapshot of the stories and people of the Markets area’. Exploring the theme of identity, Lindsay interviewed 18 people who spend their lives in the Markets Area, enjoying the unique qualities and potential of the area. Full of life, wit and joy, this video can’t be missed! It gets to the root of why the Markets Area works for the people who are in it. By showing these stories, more people can understand the Markets Area and find their own tales and love for the area too.

Shane and Mary’s prototype, ‘DigitalMary’ brought together nearly 30 people to begin building a creativity network in the Markets Area. Their project addresses the need to establish more creativity and connections between people living in the area, groups working for the area and the wider City. Based on the content gathered during a previous meeting, this group of stakeholders are developing creative projects for the area. The ‘DigitalMary’ workshop held on the Prototype Extravaganza day, led to a number of projects being initiated by participants! Projects included establishing a local currency, bringing together the local artists with the children of the area, and running historic tours. The aim is to make these projects a reality and distribute the ‘can do’ power of people in the Markets Area!

Finally, Eimear’s work on how enterprise could be used to transform the Markets Area came to light with the prototyping of ’10 Enterprises / 10 Days / 10 Tests: A laboratory of transformational enterprise models’. Kennedy’s warehouse in the Markets Area became a starting point for turning enterprise on it’s head. 10 new enterprises that are needed in the area were matched with 10 exciting business models, which provide new opportunities to grow the capacity of the people in the area, support local community initiatives and create new links in the City. The laboratory displayed the 10 enterprises for people to give their feedback and get involved in making them happen. This project gained real momentum over the Prototype Extravaganza, with people engaging in the prototype, getting excited about the potential for enterprise in the area and signing up to champion new enterprise.

The Prototype Extravaganza transformed the Markets Area for the day, brining an air of excitement and possibility. People who had never heard of the Markets Area were enjoying it’s grittiness and quirky rhythm. People who passed through the area regularly saw why the Markets Area should become a destination in itself. People who have lived in the area all their lives got a renewed sense of the potential of their area, when you build on it’s assets, listen carefully, maintain a flexible approach and test ideas loosely.

These prototypes were tested for one day. The projects themselves have bigger ideas and greater visions behind them that, informed by the feedback in the Prototype Extravaganza, will form long-term projects for the Markets Area that can later be scaled across the City.

Week 26 – Meeting the Steering Group for the final time

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

The Steering Group team, who have been working with us for the duration of ‘Love the City’, joined us for a dynamic and exciting morning in the Markets Area! The Steering Group team are made up of key City stakeholders in Dublin City Council and the founders of Design Twentyfirst Century. Armed with umbrellas and cameras, the group began with Nuala’s ‘City Works’ prototype, taking in the 20ft tall image of Miriam Kearns from DSPCA. They made a short hop to Micheál’s ‘Pimp your Pavement’ at Riverhouse, where Micheál’s plants and greenery braved gusting winds to express the potential for rich interactions in the area. From there, they made a whistle stop tour of Shane and Mary’s ‘DigitalMary’ prototype and Tara’s ‘Microcosmic Intervention’. They paused to take in Lindsay’s video with a quick cup of coffee and were off again for the final three – Eimear’s ‘10 Enterprises / 10 Days / 10 Tests’ in Kennedy’s warehouse; Vincent’s ‘Urban Living’ experience in the Market’s building and finished up in Una and John’s ‘Golden Path’ on Mary Street.

The high speed tour of the prototypes in the Markets Area ignited the Steering Group with optimism and inspiration for the future of the Markets Area. Their feedback along the way was honest, positive and helpful in moving the projects forward, noting the increased levels of activity on Capel Street and in the Markets. Having experienced the potential of the Markets Area today, the Steering Group as long-term guardians of our work in Love the City, are excited to see how these projects can continue and how the learning’s can be applied throughout the City.