Dugnad Days, our participatory design project, Oslo Architecture Triennale 2019: theme, Enough: the Architecture of Degrowth
Our participatory design project Dugnad Days, selected for the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2019, was shown in The Library, a major OAT exhibition, which took place at the National Museum of Architecture in Oslo from 26 September-24 November 2019. The Triennale is the Nordic region’s biggest architecture festival, and one of the world’s prominent arenas for dissemination and discussion of architectural and urban challenges. See Lucy’s article in Urbanista.org about the OAT 2019 and Dugnad Days, and her review of OAT 2019 in The Architects’ Journal.
The Dugnad Days team is Alexander Eriksson Furunes, a Norwegian architect and participatory design specialist; Lucy Bullivant; Mattias Josefsson, architect and teacher at AHO (Oslo School of Architecture) & BAS (Bergen Architecture School) and Maria Årthun, a recent architecture graduate of AHO and co-founder of Makers’ Hub. Bydel Bjerke, the local borough council, is one of the project funding partners of Dugnad Days along with KORO – Public Art Norway. Through a series of workshops with members of the local community we are programming, designing and renovating a vacant space at Sletteløkka, a suburb of Oslo, into a ‘grendehus’ – a new community centre for residents. Aurora Brekke has made a new short documentary film about Sletteløkka, the lives of residents and the new ‘grendhus’ project developed through the dugnad workshops.
We aim to show how, through participatory placemaking, a collective, bespoke process of building resilience and social sustainability in Sletteløkka can be built. Dugnad Days is coopting the longstanding Norwegian dugnad tradition of co-production and co-creation with citizens – practices fostering human and environmental wellbeing. Through Dugnad Days’ process of dugnads-inspired workshops to create a ‘grendehus’ – a community centre – from a disused structure – the aim is to facilitate a process of direct democracy at Sletteløkka impacting community wellbeing and self-determination.
Oslo Architecture Triennale (OAT) 2019, with the theme ‘Enough: the Architecture of Degrowth’, is curated by British architect and writer Maria Smith; Canadian architect and educator Matthew Dalziel; British critic Phineas Harper; and Norwegian urban researcher and artist Cecilie Sachs Olsen. The team is challenging the supremacy of economic growth as the basis of contemporary societies and investigating alternatives, asking ‘how should architecture respond to a climate emergency and social division? What kind of architecture will we create when buildings are no longer instruments of financial accumulation? What will our environment look like when it is human and ecological flourishing that matter most?’.
These burning questions drive the OAT 2019 programme of exhibitions, sound installations, theatre, performance, roundtables and workshops, engaging and inspiring debate about the future roles of architecture and urbanism between professionals, business communities, decision makers and the public across borders, social layers, sectors and professions, locally, across the Nordic regionally and internationally.
OAT’s major exhibition was The Library, staged at the National Museum, a project celebrating the value of sharing, de-commodification, and democratisation of goods and ideas at the heart of a degrowth community. Our project, Dugnad Days was featured in a ‘library of futures’ of over 65 exhibits, including drawings, models, materials, artefacts and devices by local and international practitioners presented in four sections, the subjective, the objective, the systemic and the collective.
The Dugnad Days project started in April with Furunes, Josefsson and Årthun running a number of idedugnad (ideas) workshops in Sletteløkka. At these, community members have been brainstorming and summarising the activities they want to prioritise for their ‘grendehus’ (community centre). Their discussion revolved around how these activities could be managed, and what each one needed in the way of elements, resources and plans. Then responsibility for each one was assigned to a key person or people, from within the group. A reporter from the local newspaper in Sletteløkka joined the second workshop and gave the project a good write up. With two workshops under their belt, the local residents taking part used the opportunity to set up their own Velforenging (residents’ association) of Sletteløkka.
Empowered by their formal status and with clarity on everything they want to achieve to make the community centre happen, they then move on to byggedugnad (construction) workshops to bring the resulting overall spatial and artefact designs into being. As part of the curatorial team, Lucy Bullivant reported on the community’s progress for Urbanista.org, her webzine on liveable urbanism and play a contributing role in the event preparations before the OAT 2019 was launched.
On show to the public in OAT’s Library exhibition from 26 September for the Dugnad Days project were visuals documenting what everyone did at the workshops and, to help visitors implement their own dugnad for a local project of theirs, an illustrated booklet about dugnad-inspired participatory processes will be available.
Dugnad Days is one of a host of fascinating sounding projects that made up the OAT 2019 – which has already tested the water with events anticipating its curatorial programme over the last year. It epitomizes how through focussing their own work and values in their local community, drawing on a rich tradition reinvented for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges, citizens can foster a degrowth approach to sustainable futures. Characterised by cultural richness and social justice, it is one they can continue to build together on their own terms.
Latvia Day, London Design Biennale 2018 – Latvian Investment and Development Agency
On 18 Sept 2018 Lucy took part as a speaker in Latvia Day, staged as part of the Latvian participation in the London Design Biennale (Somerset House), at the Courtauld Institute of Art, Strand, London WC2R 0RN. Recognised experts in the fields of creative industries, design and social anthropology from Latvia and the UK were invited to exchange opinions in a public discussion on socially responsible and sustainable design, the Latvian ecosystem and social involvement, bringing together the experience of different cultures.
Opening speeches at the event were delivered by Sumantro Ghose, Director of London Design Biennale, Dace Melbãrde, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Latvia and Andris Ozols, Director of Investment and Development Agency of Latvia. The participants in the Latvia Day discussion were Arthur Analts, designer of the installation Matter to Matter, Dr. Lucy Bullivant, curator, author of popular books about questions of urbanism and design, social anthropologist Dr. Viersturs Celmins (Riga Stradiņš University, Latvia), and Dr. Silvija Nora Kalnins, Acting Director of the Environmental Protection Department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia, initiator and director of the Nature Concerthall project. The conversation was moderated by Dr. Christopher Turner, Artistic Director of London Design Biennale, and Keeper of Design, Architecture and Digital at the Victoria & Albert Museum.
3rd Nordic Urban Forum 2018, Hanasaari – Hanaholmen, Finland
Lucy gave a keynote lecture, ‘Participatory placemaking visions into action globally’, at the 3rd Nordic Urban Forum 2018 staged at Hanasaari – Hanaholmen, Finland, from 22-24 March 2018.
Her talk focussed on alternative culturally based urban strategies and practice, and staged at Hanasaari – Hanaholmen, Finland, from 22-24 March 2018. She joined speakers giving keynotes including architect Anthony Engi Meacock of Assemble; urban sociologist Lia Ghilardi; Panu Lehtovuori (professor of planning theory, Tampere University) urbanist Charles Hendry and professor of cultural policy (Hull University) Franco Bianchini.
Watch Lucy’s keynote on YouTube: ‘Participatory placemaking visions into action globally’
Nordic Urban Lab 2018 was the third and final open gathering of cultural managers and cultural strategists, urbanists and city planners, architects, visual and performance artists, researchers and academics, students, community organisers, urban activists, environmentalists, and city councillors.
An intense two and a half day Nordic Urban Laboratory staged at the Hanasaari – Hanaholmen Cultural Centre provided the audience with an overview of both current European and Nordic trends and experience as well as issues, practices and cases in Finland.
The Nordic Urban Lab has explored some of the key aspects of taking a cultural perspective on the city and on urban strategies, including cultural mapping, citizen-led initiatives, activism and artivism, pop up and performative architecture, placemaking, DIY urbanism, linking urban and cultural strategies, gaming and urbanism, microtopias for visioning, urban tool kits, engaging and empowering citizens, public space, new directions for public art, informal and formal processes and cultural planning.
One of the overall aims of the three Nordic Urban Labs – the Copenhagen Metropolis Lab 2014; Borås/Gothenburg 2016; and Hanasaari 2018) – has been to develop a cultural planning tool kit, which can inform and support cities, communities, artists and cultural NGOs to develop their own practice in the field.
The 3rd Nordic Urban Lab was organised by Metropolis/Københavns Internationale Teater in collaboration with Espoo, Pori, Sipoo Cultural Departments, The University of Turku, Aalto University and Hanaholmen. The programme was created by Trevor Davies (Metropolis) & Maunu Häyrynen (University of Turku). The Lab received funding from the Nordisk Kulturfond.
Sustainable Urbanism New Directions – Qatar University: publications
Publications: The Sustainable Urbanism – New Directions publication – launched in April 2018 – has been produced simultaneously in a fully illustrated, 154 page printed limited edition – cover seen below – designed by Kirstin Helgadóttir and as a special issue of Urbanista.org webzine for liveable urbanism designed by &&&.
One of the publication features is about the brainstorming session we staged as the culminating event of Sustainable Urbanism New Directions, a major symposium held at the Qatar National Centre by Qatar University (2016) curated and staged by Professor Anna Grichting. The questions we examined in detail included what would a Qatari eco-legacy look like and what are the possibilities for energy transition, and in implementation, how can we bridge the current gap between social science and technology? Facilitated by Lucy Bullivant, the speakers and guests from Qatar University and public and private bodies in Doha drew out a range of integrated propositions for a sustainable urbanism research agenda for Doha, Qatar and the wider region.
Livesey Exchange/Old Kent Road Studios talks
The Livesey Exchange on the Ledbury Estate off the Old Kent Road is a maker space created out of vacant garages aimed at bringing life, new skills and jobs to a neglected corner of South London. The project has been developed by local residents Nicholas Okwulu, of social enterprise Pempeople in collaboration with Ulrike Steven from the architecture practice what if: projects.
Lucy Bullivant and Mark Brearley, Head of Cass Cities and Professor at the Cass, London Metropolitan University, were speakers for one of the Livesey Exchange talk events in June 2017. Lucy gave a talk, ‘Participatory placemaking visions into action globally’, about community engagement on regeneration projects. Mark discussed the future of industries in the city and introduced the new exhibition about the Old Kent Road economy produced by Cass Cities, London Met, staged at the Livesey Exchange over many months.
The Livesey Exchange wants to ‘transform the unused garages on the Ledbury Estate into a place that serves the neighbourhood. It will be an important community resource within Southwark’s proposed Old Kent Road Opportunity Area and provide a hub for training, meetings, and information. It is important that local communities are involved in the development of the area as it evolves and have the training and skills to effectively participate and benefit from the coming changes’.
The former garages will be filled with makers from a range of industries, opening up opportunities for training and further strengthening the network of manufacturers operating in the Old Kent Road area. Another resource will be the Feminist Library that plans to move to the Livesey Exchange with part of their collection and will deliver a complementary educational programme. The Livesey Exchange has successfully attracted funding to commence the transformation of the garages from the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund, Southwark Council, Southwark Tenant Fund, Airbnb and many residents and businesses who supported its Crowdfunding campaign in 2016.
Power to the Citizen! Data and co-creation in the digital city
Lucy was one of four speakers at Power to the Citizen! Data and co-creation in the digital city, a sell-out event staged on 25 July 2017 (6.30-8pm) at the Base KX in King’s Cross by the Institute for Digital Innovation in the Built Environment and the Engineering Exchange at UCL, UCL Urban Lab and CASA. She gave a talk called ‘Don’t hesitate, participate! Digital tools and processes for social democracy in urban life’. The other speakers were Ava Fatah, UCL Space Syntax Laboratory; Andrew Collinge, GLA; Adam Dennett, UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis; and Nicolas Fonti, Living Maps. The event led to the creation of the Power to the Citizen! manifesto online and in printed form.
The Institute’s aim for the event was to explore the changing ways in which we define and engage with digital city systems. This no longer lies exclusively in the hands of architects, designers, engineers, computer scientists and urban planners: open-source tools and open-data platforms are opening up collaborative opportunities for citizen participation.
This event brought together community groups, academics and digital practitioners into dialogue with the joint aims of understanding the challenges of engaging in this new paradigm and with this knowledge, identify new collaborative mechanisms for citizen-led digital city making.
Fronteira Livre (invisible borders), a workshop and installations on São Paulo Metro and CPTM train stations, for the 11th Bienal de Arquitecture de São Paulo, Brazil, ‘Em Projeto’ (In Project), curated by Marcos L. Rosa. Architects, Alexander Eriksson Furunes and Maria Cau and Gabriela Forjaz, co-founders of Goma Oficina, explored the power of storytelling and co-creation as tools to negotiate individual and collective experiences of borders.
With 8 migrants to Brazil from Bolivia, Peru, Angola, Haiti and Congo, members of CAMI centre for migrant support, they created textile banners at workshop to communicate messages of importance that shed new light on their situation in São Paulo. Text and patterns painted onto the banners express the hope, fear, strength and knowledge needed to face the cultural, social and economic border they experience after having crossed the national border of Brazil.
From 16 Oct-15 Nov 2017 the banners were on display at the 6 main stations of the red line on the São Paulo Metro and CPTM train stations: Barra Fund, Republic, Sé, Brás, Tatuapé and Itaquera. This is the busiest line of a metro system carrying 4.7 million passengers a day.
The project was developed through a close collaboration between CAMI, Alexander Ericsson Furunes, Goma Oficina and Lucy Bullivant, and a video was made about the project by DAFAM FAU-Mackenzie School of Architecture.
Remake – We make: frameworks for social and cultural exchange
Remake – We make/Made in Baishizhou was an exhibition pavilion/workshop project created for the national, regional and thematic pavilions section of the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\ Architecture, Shenzhen, China (UABB 2015, 5 Dec 2015-28 Feb 2016). The Remake – We make film created featured WORKSHOP architecture (co-founder Alexander Eriksson Furunes), Assemble, 00 Architecture + Studio Weave and Carl Turner Architects. The pavilion was designed to be an engaging environment demonstrating how community-engaged placemaking, embracing the handmade, the small scale and the improvisational, generates a positive regenerative impact on the social and political life of cities, towns and rural areas of the world and the capacities of their residents to rise to future challenges. Architecture is demonstrated to be a participative process, rather than one presenting an ‘a priori’, abstracting planning framework, which has been an all too common stock-in-trade in the planning and making of cities and towns globally in the past.
Curated by Lucy Bullivant and staged in association with Alexander Eriksson Furunes, co-founder of the UK-Norwegian practice, WORKSHOP architecture and film director Paul McHale, Remake – We Make/Made in Baishizhou is also a local collaboration with Assistant Professor Xin Guo, Department of Architecture, Shenzhen University and Assistant Professor Yan Gao, Department of Architecture, University of Hong Kong. The presentation of Remake – We Make/Made in Baishizhou at the 2015 Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in Shenzhen was staged with the kind support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture (DOGA), Bolton & Quinn, London, and other private donors.
Participatory activities are today reevaluating architecture’s social contract and organisational models, fostering fresh collaborative processes and deployments of local materials, crafts and skills. The site in question, wherever it is, and our space at UABB, operates as a heart of educational interaction and open source design, overcoming the typical disconnection between the public and the processes by which spaces are made, and opening new possibilities for the building of social, ecological and health capital. Remake – We make/Made in Baishizhou, exhibited at the Biennale’s main venue, the former Dacheng flour factory on its site at Shekou in Shenzhen, directly responds to the Biennale’s theme of ‘Re-Living the City’ set by Chief Curators Aaron Betsky, Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpner and Doreen Liu, and represented by over 80 exhibitors from around the world.
The Made in Baishizhou workshop was a unique collaboration with a small knitting factory in Shenzhen, China staged with a team composed of 10 architectural students, a mix of 5th year undergraduates and 2nd year postgraduates. Our collaborators were 11 factory workers who for the past 20-30 years have had one role on the production line, such as ironing, connecting pieces of textiles or adding buttons, we collaboratively designed and made one individual textile artefact each that meant something to them and which communicated a message that they wanted share with the world.
The process proved to be a catalyst in building relationships among the factory workers, inspiring some to receive training and engage in other aspects of textiles production. The workshop also inspired other bodies and their representatives in the city to engage with the factory for the first time: among these is Design Society, the new design museum in Shenzhen, with whom the factory workers are now making another exhibition.
Recoded City: Co-creating Urban Futures
Recoded City: Co-creating Urban Futures is a book co-authored by Thomas Ermacora and Lucy Bullivant, and published by Routledge, 2016. Graphic design: Matthew Rowett and team, Design Surgery. Recoded City examines alternative urban design, planning and architecture for the 90% – participatory placemaking. In combining bottom-up and top-down means of regenerating and rebalancing neighbourhoods affected by declining welfare or struck by disaster, this growing movement brings greater resilience. Recoded City sheds light on a new epoch in the relationship between cities and civil society, presenting an emerging range of collaborative solutions and distributed governance models.
“Recoded City: Co-Creating Urban Futures is a rich glossary that selects and discusses some of the most relevant and necessary practices, initiatives, and projects in terms of urban design, planning, and architecture. Recoded City is not just a book about architecture, urban design, or even economic strategies and solutions, but more importantly about questions on how the city as we live it every day is propelling us into an out-of-control future.” – A10 Magazine
“Recoded City champions a broad, diversified, holistic approach to urban design which simultaneously commits to social responsibility and local engagement. The needs and ambitions of communities and stakeholder groups are the focal point of Ermacora and Bullivant’s vision and, stepping outside the studio and workshop, Recoded City also shares inventive ways in which urban realm projects have attracted and encouraged social activities and participation, or have collaborated with community activists.” – Alan Gordon, The Architects’ Journal
“This is a hopeful book, written prior to the Brexit vote and the current state of the U.S. presidential election. Let us hope that the values of transparency and a people’s participatory ethos can weather the storm of both. This book may well be a source for a level of activism that moves from necessary to imperative.” – Annie Coggan, AIA New York and the Center for Architecture News (formerly known as eOculus)
Lucy gave a talk to the Congrés d’Arquitectura, Barcelona, in Dec 2016, the major architectural congress staged annually by the Collegi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya (COAC). The COAC overview of her lecture read as follows: ‘The presence of Lucy Bullivant caused a stir in the room. She is an author and advisor who researches processes of urban design and innovative synergies, known for her articles on architecture in The Guardian and publications including Masterplanning Futures. Lucy Bullivant was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2010. Since 1987 she has been collaborating with the main museums, galleries, cultural institutions, publishers, media and international organizations as curator and specialist writer on architecture and urban design. This work includes for Urbanista, the website she founded to channel her reflections, taking advantage of the fact that the media outlets with whom she used to collaborate reduced their commissions due to the economic crisis.
Bullivant defined and exemplified the new priorities of contemporary urban planning: the social equality of citizens, the diversification of land uses, the need to reinvent the infrastructure, and the achievement of ecologically advanced results. She outlined her ideas on design and society, the strengths and weaknesses, and how increasingly it is necessary “to look at the city through the citizens”. “So often the walls of a city, with their graffiti, are the expression of what they ask for” and she demonstrated this with a photograph of slogans in Chile demanding “an urgent solution.”
In order to respond to all these needs, Bullivant asks for a multidisciplinary architecture to be able to “balance the toughest and most static aspects, with the softer, more friendly”. For this, she proposes “permeable, versatile buildings that correct the past traditions of rational cities and territories. We must abandon the isolated thinking of the past, divided into watertight departments things that are not related to each other,” and to open a permeable, alive urbanism.
She highlighted the micro policies that enable mediation between neighbours to build homes for the elderly or community centres – in short, architectural projects and social urbanism that are born of participatory processes. For Bullivant, the real change will come when people are taken into account. And while this does not happen, she explains that to surmount it, citizen movements that are pushing for the regeneration of neighbourhoods with cooperatives and activism are emerging. Another aspect of this “living urbanism” is accompanied by local materials, soft but firm methods and a lot of enthusiasm, and platforms and digital tools that are evolving local design in very innovative ways’.
Urbanistas: women innovators in architecture, urban and landscape design
Urbanistas: women innovators in architecture, urban and landscape design was an exhibition curated by Lucy Bullivant for Roca London Gallery and staged in Newcastle through a partnership with Northern Architecture and Igloo Regeneration, March-October 2015. Urbanistas celebrated the vision and skills of five leading women practitioners working pro-actively in UK cities in the fields of architecture, urban design and landscape design and planning: Irena Bauman, Bauman Lyons Architects, Leeds: Alison Brooks, Alison Brooks Architects, London; Alessandra Cianchetta, AWP Architects, London and Paris; Johanna Gibbons, J&L Gibbons, London; and Liza Fior and Katherine Clark, muf architecture/art, London.
Read the RIBAJournal review here.
Through photographs, drawings, diagrams, sketches, models, specially commissioned video interviews and film clips, the visitor could explore the ways in which the ‘urbanistas’ are reinventing contemporary urban design and housing models to create beautiful, coherent, integrated and resilient cities. The exhibition was designed by Julia Feix, Feix & Merlin Architects; film director: Paul McHale; film producer: Chadwick Jackson.
Lucy’s book, New Arcadians: emerging UK architects, published by Merrell, was launched at the Architecture Association in May 2012. It features eighteen practices she describes as, “the most dynamic and innovative new architectural practices in Britain today”.
Describing the title of her book, Lucy explains, “The word [Arcadia] stands for values that prioritise the integration between human activity and the environment, between dwelling places and nature. It stands for a public place in which people can feel engaged, one that has a conscious, responsible approach to natural cycles and energies, instead of ignoring their potential. The United Kingdom is waking up to new realities: what do we want from our land, our space, our architecture? With imagination and skill, what more can be done? New Arcadians is concerned with the aspiration for a new relationship between architecture and landscape, building and context, ecology and culture.”
In an interview by Domus magazine she elaborates: “What distinguishes the New Arcadians as a group from practices living abroad is that, being largely, but not exclusively, based in London, they are negotiating the UK’s — and above all London’s — architectural scene, a context constantly incubating design languages, conceptual practices, creative attitudes to start ups and entrepreneurialism”.
“Today’s younger practices are working in ways that are flexible and jumping the system now in a period of crisis. Responses to this crisis, as opposed to the last recession and its aftermath of improved conditions, bear signs of an even bigger deployment of means to create solutions cheaply, faster and in a more sustainable way.”
Read the review in Domus here.