Co-designing Common Spaces (2019)
Workshop with Hastings Refugee Buddy Project and the De La Warr Pavillon to co-designing common spaces.

Co-designing common spaces is a workshop that invited participants of the Hastings Refugee Buddy Project to come together at the De La Warr Pavillon to share ideas around co-designing common spaces. Prompted by the acquisition of their first space in St Leonards on Sea, we devised a participatory workshop to begin conversations about its co-creation, together exploring principals of collectivity, exchange and support. The event was devised and delivered with students of MA Situated Practice at the Bartlett School of Architecture Eloise Maltby Maland, Loufei Dong, Ignacio Rivas and Ignacio Saavedra. Alongside our tutor David Roberts. It was funded by the Knowledge Exchange fund from the Kieren Reed at the Slade School of Art.

The Hastings Refugee Buddy Project encourages people from Hastings, St Leonards, Bexhill and Wealden to offer help and support to the Syrian families entering the community through the Syrian Resettlement Project. The newly acquired shop intends to provide a central hub for the project and welcoming space for the provision of their services. Through activities in collage, textiles and performance we moved through the De La Warr Pavilion to talk about: what is wanted from the space, what can be shared within the space and what it might come to look like.
Working with a mixture of children and adults across languages of English and Arabic, we used overhead projectors to play with images and texts, rearranging their compositions to suggest different possibilities for the space. Over the course of an afternoon we slowly created the beginnings of a large scale fabric tapestry, communicating through colourful shapes and iconic forms. Together we imagined books, cooking and skill sharing; Harry Potter, embroidery and crafts; birthday parties, cycling and languages. The tapestry became the platform through which these ideas were both explored and communicated

The workshop ended in a series of celebratory and impromptu performances, enacting the future of the space and negotiating, through movement and mimicry, the nature of each other's needs. The space, now called ‘OPEN’, launched on the 13th June 2019 on the Grand Parade and is home to a community cafe, art gallery and a series of regular events.

Photos taken by Matthew Harmer.