Working with participant-researchers across three main case studies embedded in different urban policy contexts across England, we used participatory mapping, in-depth interviews and facilitated group conversations with policy officers and members of community organisations, to understand opportunities for caring—with, where these dynamics are already present, and to suggest directions for policy design.
Tranquil City is a collective of environmental, built-environment, psychological and data-science practitioners and researchers with the common aim of using their knowledge for human and environmental benefit. Tranquil City’s mission is to drive positive behaviour change that enables people to lead healthier and more balanced lives in cities.
For the purpose of Caring—with Cities project, our research was focused on Tranquil City’s work in Lewisham, London. This area of Tranquil City’s work included collaborations with Lewisham City Council, local schools, and community-led green space action groups, leading to the co-creation of the Tranquil Pavements Map, a platform for people to share and discover tranquility within London. Tranquil Pavements map was the main objective and outcome of the Tranquil City’s work in Lewisham and was one of 43 experiments funded and supported by OrganiCity between 2016 – 2018.
Lancaster Civic Vision
The Lancaster Civic Vision case study builds on the previous collaboration between the Lancaster City Council, Lancaster County Council, and the University of Lancaster (LICA). Previous engagements included participants exploring areas of urban matters, policy, and design using participation methods. The Caring with cities project brought about the opportunity to engage community-led organisations in conversations with the Community Conversations team within Lancaster City Council (LCC). Lancaster Civic Vision (LCV) is part of the Community Groups aiming to promote and encourage initiatives—relating to quality of life, architecture and planning, heritage, and economic development and regeneration. LVC forms a bottom-up approach, supporting initiatives in the area administered by LCC. Lancaster Civic Vision have positioned themselves as a community resource to assist and nudge LCC with campaigns on urban matters.
For the purpose of the Caring—with Cities project, our research focussed on the mechanisms through which the organisation attempts to influence urban planning and policy.
Portland Works is a grade II* listed integrated metal works on the outskirts of Sheffield city centre, built in 1879. It was the birthplace of stainless steel cutlery manufacturing, making it one of the outstanding examples of Sheffield’s industrial heritage. Today it is home to a mix of artists, musicians, small scale craftspeople as well as metalworkers, continuing a tradition of innovative manufacture. In 2009 an application to turn it into studio flats placed Portland Works' tenants under theat. In 2013 Portland Works was successfully purchased by the community, through a share issue. It is now owned by over 500 community shareholders and governed through an elected board of up to 12 directors.
For the purpose of the Caring—with Cities project, our research focused on its operations following the purchase of the building by the community.
AUAR (Automated Architecture)
The above case studies were complemented by a mapping activity with AUAR. AUAR uses modular building systems and robotics to provide affordable, sustainable housing solutions. AUAR is a spin-out company from AUAR Labs at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London.
For the purpose of the Caring—with Cities project, our research focused on spaces, tools and processes for experimentation within community projects in Bristol and the London borough of Hackney.