Designing Dublin : Learning to Learn is a Design Twentyfirst Century project born out of the belief that new ways of learning, thinking and working together are needed if we are to address the big problems of the world.
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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!
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.
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.
Taking last week’s learning’s onboard, this week was make or break for a number of projects and the prototype projects went into overdrive! The team were working flat out to make sure that their prototypes came together in the best way possible, while dealing with the challenges that were arising and the natural fear of failure.
Nuala’s project called City Works had all hands on deck to make sure 25 people posters of varying sizes got to the printers in time to be with us by the weekend for pasting up in the Market’s Area. Tara’s ownership project, called Microcosmic Intervention, has evolved into a small intervention in St Michans Flats, where she is working with moss, stencilling and pallets to create a relaxing atmosphere. Una and John have been pushing their project, called Golden Path, to find new ways of addressing safety and navigation in the City. Vincent is hard at work in the Market’s building, turning discarded pallets into furniture for people to stop, sit and relax on for his project called Urban Living.
Micheál has been making waves outside the old Tax building near the Four Courts, where he has been gathering materials and testing what the space could look like if it were transformed with nature through his Pop-up Park. Lindsay has been busy editing video interviews of people in the Market’s Area and securing broadcast locations for his Broadcasting People project. You might catch a preview of this project over the next few days, if you pass The Exchange in Temple Bar. Shane and Mary are busy harvesting the results of their first DigitalMary process, contacting key stakeholders and planning a follow-up process to push the creativity network further. Finally, Eimear is putting the finishing touches to the 10/10/10 Laboratory of enterprises and inviting potential enterprise champions to an exciting process next week.
Meanwhile, interest in our work seems to be growing internationally. Two academics from the Institute of Technology in Architecture, Zurich joined us in our studio to discuss the project, share their perspective on successful cities and bring learning’s from the project back to their work in Switzerland.
This week each project has put in the grunt work and overtime needed to drive the prototypes into the final week and to their best possible conclusion. Things are shaping up very nicely for the prototype extravaganza next Wednesday, where each prototype will be on the streets for people to interact with, provide feedback and to inspire the City to re-imagine its possibilities! Make sure you come down to the Markets area next Wednesday, 30th March for the prototype extravaganza!
This week we were joined by our final Love the City guest speaker, Damini Kumar. Damini Kumar is Director of Design and Creativity at NUI Maynooth and European Ambassador for Creativity. We invited her in to show the work she is championing in Maynooth, discuss the methodologies of design thinking and inspire the team to reach their potential in the future. Damini always dreamed of becoming an inventor and launched her career by inventing the world’s first non-drip tea pot, having studied Engineering and Product Design in London. This opened up many opportunities for Damini, to gain experience in many prestigious design companies. Along the way she moved to Dublin and has since dedicated her career to teaching and inspiring creativity in others.
Damini believes in everyone’s potential to be creative. To unleash this potential she advocates using various deign thinking tools, such as Edward De Bono’s approach of the six thinking hats. By having creative ideas and using design thinking you can create commercial products, which answer the needs of the end user. Damini also shared a number of insights she has experienced in the design process, such as designers should never expect their user to know what they want, the importance of having observation with empathy and understanding the context of the situation. She believes in the potential of design to solve any problem and has exercised that belief with a number of successful projects, such as the ‘Classroom of the Future’ competition, which 1,600 secondary school students entered their designs to re-imagine their educational experience.
Damini has used the design process throughout her life, from work related projects to life and has proven the potential of design to find new ways of approaching and solving problems. The advice she left resonating in our ears was: you can achieve anything if you believe in it! A wonderfully inspiring person to wrap up our speaker series, which has provided the team with new knowledge, new learning’s and a new way of looking at the world.
The Designing Dublin team wish to thank the 30 plus volunteers who have been helping us turn ideas into prototypes! Through your energy, enthusiasm and optimism you have ignited the projects. You are proof that the City is full of talented people. The future looks bright for Dublin! Thank you!
This week in Book Club, John presented with much gusto, three books – ‘Recycle’ by Moira and Nicholas Hankinson; ‘In search of Myths and Heroes’ by Michael Wood; and ‘505 Great Leaders, Scientists, Inventors, Sports People, Stage Performers’ by Robert Frederick. Recycle is a handy inventory of furniture designs which can be created using recycled materials, such as bed spring candle holders and a bird feeder made from an old log. These quirky designs show the potential in unwanted or disposable products and are relevant to the work John and Una are doing at the moment on safety and navigation.
‘In search of Myths and Heroes’ is based on a BBC television series and follows historian Michael Woods as he journeys to remote places on earth in search of the truth behind four myths – Shangri-La, Jason and the Golden Fleece, the Queen of Sheba and King Arthur. Finally, ‘505 Great Leaders, Scientists, Inventors, Sports People, Stage Performers’ picks out people who have made their mark on history and gives the reader a small bio on each. John’s smorgasbord of books was refreshing and created a curiosity amongst the team to uncover further insights, well done John!
A number of projects underwent an initial testing phase this week, with prototypes hitting streets and venues in the Market’s Area! The response to the testing of the prototypes brought to light the urgent need for these projects in the area, with the team members taking many learning’s away for both themselves and the group. Tara and her ‘Lack of ownership’ project tested bringing people of the area together to design pieces of public furniture around their favourite plant, which will then be fabricated and installed near the designer’s house for a week. Shane and Mary and their projects, ‘Lack of linkages’ and ‘Lack of appeal’ hosted a meeting of over 40 key stakeholders involved in creativity. They discussed how creativity can be grown in the area, found ideas for projects which will transform the Market’s area through creativity and linked these ideas with the people who would be interested in carrying them out.
The remaining projects are racing towards prototype! Nuala is busy photographing people, Lindsay is taking video recordings of people, Eimear is stalking down a vacant premise, Vincent is meeting health and safety requirements, Una and John are hammering out logistics and Ciaran is laying the foundation for his prototype. The projects are on the right track and will come to life in the next two weeks!
Neil McCabe, a Dublin City Fire Fighter and champion of the world’s first carbon neutral fire station joined us on Wednesday. Over four years ago, Neil set about boosting the morale in Kilbarrack fire station by refurbishing the station. However, with a shortage of funding, he realised that the only way to refurbish the fire station would be if it paid for itself. This set him on a path of researching during the day while working the night shift to draw up a green plan and define seven themes for sustainability towards creating a carbon neutral fire station. The target Neil set for the project was to adopt technology and best practice, include local business and economy and involve the community. In the four years since then, the fire station has noted an 80% reduction in it’s carbon footprint. It’s the world’s first fire station to put out fires with rain water, treated shower and bathroom water. It’s the world’s first fire station to begin trading carbon stock with businesses. It’s the first in Ireland to use a biodiesel mix in the fire engines. It also houses 1,000 bats in bat houses, several beehives, a commemorative garden, vegetable allotments. These are just a small number of changes Neil has achieved in the fire station to date.
What is most remarkable is the effect that this project has had on the people involved in the project – the fire fighters, the local businesses and local community. It rejuvenated the morale amongst fire fighters, brought retired fire fighter’s back into the station who are now actively seeking projects to work on in other fire stations; local businesses have adopted to provide new carbon neutral technology and equipment and employment rates are up; a number of outreach projects to the community have provided education in biodiversity and awareness of the dangers of fires; the Kilbarrack area in general is enjoying the fruits of biodiversity – with bees pollinating plants, swarms of butterflies and greater range of birds and insects. This project has not only transformed the fire station, but has rejuvenated the Kilbarrack area and has the scale to effect fire stations and communities nationwide.
Neil’s work is the flagship project for the DCC Sustainability Report 2010. It shows how everything is in our own hands, we can improve conditions for others and ourselves, and each contribution adds to Dublin. The project is a template for how other fire stations can work.
Neil’s mantra for the project was – think it out, involve the unexpected and create change, wise words from an extraordinary man!
Rich Bailey, a New York based freelance writer who worked on the revitalisation and sustainable development strategy for Chatanooga in Tennessee, joined us in studio today. He interviewed John, Nuala and Eimear, spent some time soaking in the studio atmosphere and took in a brisk walk of the Markets Area for an article he is writing on Designing Dublin! Rich contributes to a number of US magazines focusing on urban spaces, planning and community development. It is a wonderful opportunity for Designing Dublin to spread it’s approach and spark conversations about how best to grow rich, layered and happy Cities!