Connected Environments: Building spaces for creativity in lockdown
By actively involving young East Londoners in co-creation projects, we can encourage them to engage with their local environment.
“My mother couldn’t afford paying for every journey to get to A and B, so our alternative was to use our ten toes. When I tell you we walked everywhere, I REALLY MEAN IT. I didn’t enjoy walking at first because keeping up with my mum’s long legs was a myth. So, because of that my mum tried her best to make it as fun as possible for me. She used to take me through different routes to get to places…”
Thus opens Angel’s Back Yard by Angel Okoturo, one of the texts we compiled in ARGH! Mateys, a project which invites people to walk and discover new writing by young people hidden in digital portholes located throughout the Royal Docks in London. ARGH! Mateys is just one of a series of co-creation projects introduced during the pandemic by researchers in Connected Environments which brings together interdisciplinary expertise in urbanism, digital and socially engaged arts practices.
Taken together, these projects reflect a commitment to creating opportunities for London’s youth. In developing an existing body of research around the uses of novel technologies for spatial storytelling, the team partnered with youth organisations including London Borough of Newham (LBN) Youth Empowerment and the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood to alleviate the impact of the global health crisis on young people.
Inspired by the Design Justice Network’s principles, we used co-creation as a method; listening to the participants and sharing the knowledge required to realise their ideas. Through these activities, we discovered that a sense of community can form remotely. The projects provided participants with a shared purpose, despite the multiple barriers to digital engagement and participation during the pandemic and afforded much needed space for them to meet and connect with their peers.
“We discussed how it’s different from other maps. For example, Google maps doesn’t highlight accessibility, but here, we included a voice description that can read out information about the venues.”
Dr Leah Lovett
Reseach Fellow, The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
Dr Duncan Hay
Research Associate, The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
RE-Invent Digital Pilot
“I learnt how to make ideas into a reality.”
“This has been a solid process of... workshopping then executing it right through to the end... like the blue-print of how these things can work, and how we can apply our skills and share them differently online.”
Marawa Ibrahim, Commissioned Artist