Co-making sustainable urban visions: New ‘Northbank Residency’ announced to explore the future of public spaces

By Claire Mead

Co-making sustainable urban visions
New Northbank Residency announced
to explore the future of public spaces

Makerversity and The Northbank Business Improvement District (BID) are delighted to announce a brand new collaborative project which will showcase innovative concepts about the role and potential of public spaces.

The partnership will see Makerversity’s curated community of makers working at the heart of the Strand part of Somerset House Studios, adding their layers of social innovation, radical change, and sustainable thinking to the fabric of the city to help envision and construct its future(s).

This vision is deeply attuned to the BID’s commitment in helping its local community work towards economic, environmental and social sustainability, exploring place-shaping and inclusivity within public urban spaces.

The Civic Hack

The project kicked off in June during the London Festival of Architecture and Makerversity’s Re-Making Place Civic Hack, which drew inspiration from the vision for Strand/Aldwych and the plans to create a new public piazza in from of Somerset House. This transformational project is being led by Westminster City Council, with collaboration with a range of partners, including the Northbank BID.

Participants were asked to re-imagine how citizens interact with each other and with the public spaces within our cities. It used the energy and diversity of viewpoints such a topic involves to think about how we can continue this conversation around public urban spaces, in London and beyond.

A two-day session of design thinking, experimenting and making from invited Civic Hack participants resulted in three different proposals. Hydro-Commons proposes creating new interactions in public space which re-imagine water’s value as a collective resource. Tree FM rethinks how can could involve trees in public consultations around urban public space by finding ways of translating the signals they convey amongst each other to local authorities. Finally, Caring for Carers looks at ways we could improve access to resources in public space for unpaid carers.

City Co-Labs: Re-Making Place from Makerversity on Vimeo.

The London Design Festival Exhibition

These proposals, alongside contributions by members, have led to an exhibition in New Wing of Somerset House part of London Design Festival, 16th-22nd September.

After the end of the exhibition the winning team will be announced. Their prize will be £1000 and a 6-month Northbank BID residency at Makerversity to develop their proposal, with access to its co-working and workshops spaces, community mentorship and business support.

Ruth Duston, OBE, OC, CEO of the Northbank BID said:

“We are thrilled to be involved in this partnership project, which is encouraging innovative thinking on the future of our public spaces. Today, public spaces, especially in busy, urban areas like Northbank, are important areas for communities to come together, to share experiences, coalesce around identities and feel ‘at home’. Ensuring we are helping to create exemplar spaces is a core ambition of the BID and I’m eager to see how this project can develop our thinking on the issue.”

About Makerversity

Makerversity is a membership community of professional makers and disruptors  – all businesses who are making something amazing for a living. We assemble this community in shared co-making spaces for radical and wonderful creative businesses working in ways no one can predict. 

This means we run physical spaces for a curated community of members, attracting and assembling the leading voices on innovation and future making. In short, we’re a catalyst that fuels the raw talent of today and we know that unexpected encounters lead to original outcomes.

Makerversity is resident at Somerset House Studios, a major new cross-disciplinary workspace championing collaboration and experimentation in the centre of London. We work together across programming and support activities, exploring new ways of supporting changing creative practices.

Somerset House Trust has been a key supporter of Makerversity since we began in 2013, offering us very favourable terms which allow us to operate an affordable workspace for the most exciting emerging maker businesses in the heart of central London. As well as providing physical workshop space and fabrication facilities, we exist as a platform to power our members even higher. How? By co-curating cutting-edge content for our public programme and learning projects. And through private partnerships and collaborations that pair our members with businesses or brands that want access to genuine innovation.

Makerversity’s City Co-Labs series explores how future cities will emerge through new, unexpected and radical collaborations across disciplines, from tech and architecture to design and activism. This series will look at local concerns to challenge wider issues cities face around sustainability, accessibility and social change. Part of its programme, Makerversity has launched a new set of Civic hacks to address the big societal issues of our time. Through fostering collaboration between makers and the public we aim to investigate the role that design can play in creating clever and radical solutions to the problems facing our modern world.

About the Northbank BID

Established in 2013 to support local businesses and enhance the area’s reputation as a leisure and business destination, the Northbank BID is one of central London’s largest and most diverse Business Improvement Districts. Covering a fascinating part of the capital, stretching from Trafalgar Square to the Royal Courts of Justice, and encompassing world-class culture and vibrant nightlife, the Northbank has it all. Now in its second term, the BID is continuing its work in the area, enhancing the local environment, raising the profile of the Northbank and championing sustainable growth.

The BID’s work with Westminster Council is vital. The transformation of Strand / Aldwych epitomises the approach of the BID – acting as the catalyst to get a project off the ground and then working collaboratively with public sector partners to support delivery.

About Somerset House

London’s working arts centre

Somerset House is London’s working arts centre and home to the UK’s largest creative community. Built on historic foundations, we are situated in the very heart of the capital.

Dedicated to backing progress, championing openness, nurturing creativity and empowering ideas, our cultural programme is ambitious in scope. We insist on relevance, but aren’t afraid of irreverence, and are as keen on entertainment as enrichment. We embrace the biggest issues of our times and are committed to oxygenating new work by emerging artists. Where else can you spend an hour ice-skating while listening to a specially commissioned sound piece by a cutting-edge artist?

It is this creative tension—the way we harness our heritage, put the too-often overlooked on our central stage and use our neo-classical backdrop to showcase ground-breaking contemporary culture—that inspires our programme. Old and new, history and disruption, art and entertainment, high-tech and homemade, combined with the fact that we are home to a constantly shape-shifting working creative community: this is our point of difference. It is what we are proud of. And it is what makes the experience of visiting or working in Somerset House inspiring and energizing, urgent and exciting.

Instagram and Twitter: @somersethouse
www.somersethouse.org.uk

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Posted By Claire Mead