How can the act of site responsive making be used as a tool for engagement?

Initial Brief:

Through sourcing local material we will use this as a tool to map/register the social, cultural and economic condition of the area and construct a new scenario for the occupation and use of the Phoenix Nursery site.

One core methodology of our practice is using the act of making as a means of teaching agency and insight within contested and marginalised contexts. This method introduces an active and performative scenario that forces a multi-faceted mode of engagement with context. In this scenario the act of making is not used as a means of teaching people how to make but instead learning about a place by doing within that place. Key outcomes are experiencing how to engage with a variety of local actors/stakeholders, being resourceful, participating in the economy of a place, mapping the economy of a place, mapping the sociology of a place, mapping the culture of a place. In the context of Test Unit that learning will often be revealed to the participants gradually or at the end of the project so the acquisition of knowledge become naturally attained and embedded through the process of participation rather then being forced in the form of a ‘lesson’

Methodology / process:

The methodology will consist of 4 stages:

Observe – the existing condition of the site with a particular focus on the edge condition and how that facilitates or denies engagement and interaction

React – to our findings by speculating on how a manipulation of the existing edge condition might transform the way in which the public utilise the site

Gather – the materials required to create and intervention to prototype our idea

Make – an intervention on the site in response to what we have seen, how we have reacted and the material we have gathered.

Over the course of this week the Source Material Unit has been exploring and determining the context of Speirs Locks through the acquisition of objects and material. These objects contain memories of existing and former activity in this location; being redundant props from cultural institutions or stone or slabs left over from landscape regeneration projects.

This material provides a means of documenting the local condition and then presents that not as a map or media but as physical form on the Phoenix Nursery site.

The completed project is a l:l sketch that suggests a transformation of the edge condition; creating an invitation to move beyond the existing path into the site where a series of large steps provide the opportunity to pause, gather and experience the sound and movement of the MS motorway.

Our project has developed iteratively as we react to particular observations with each act forming the other. The process is one of continuous reaction, reflection and action. Pragmatism is followed by a creative interpretation. First acts in the week involved collecting litter, weeding and revealing existing paths and seeking to address very obvious and immediate issues before applying creative interventions. This project has been physical, relentless and ambitious but both collaborative and empowering.

About the facilitator:
BAXENDALE believe in the potential of people and place. We value ideas and facilitate public agency in the re-imagining of place through collaboration, active making and thoughtful analysis. We believe that conceiving ideas, prototyping interventions and creating local capacity to enact sustainable change can be an organic and responsive process that brings communities together to work towards common goals.

Facilitated by:
Lee Ivett & Ambrose Gillick – BAXENDALE

Group members:
Reuben Martindale, Rachel Marshall, Theo Vass, Itea Mourla, Freyja Harris, Anna McEwan, Rhiannon Moylan

Photo credits:
Jassy Earl