Watershed RD 53 of 115

News Category

Welcoming new faces and mapping the landscape

by Rachael Burton

Back in June when it was still sunny, we opened the patio doors of The Workshop at Studio 5 to welcome in eight new faces. Our eight Digital Placemaking fellows; Grace Quantock, Jim Morrison, Paul Clarke, Roseanna Dias, Shawn Sobers, Stephen Hilton, Tim Lo and Will Taylor. They arrived with ideas, energy and a lot of questions. Overlapping themes began to emerge as we discussed digital placemaking and what it means in different contexts to different communities. Over a series of workshops, we started to dig deeper into the research questions and themes we will be exploring across Bristol and Bath.

There was a clear and consistent ambition for co-creation and user-led design when it comes to making new platforms or content. All too often technology is conceived of and developed behind closed doors by a very small group of people from similar backgrounds. By the time it reaches the public it has already excluded large groups of people and missed the opportunity for inclusive creative development.

The fellows are interested in the interplay between the physical and digital worlds in public space. Both are tangible, and can have lasting impacts on our emotional and social relationships with a place. How welcome and safe someone feels in public space has a direct impact on their behaviour in it. We will be researching hybrid spaces - how architecture and data/information can work together to make accessible, welcoming and playful spaces.

There were a number of other themes and areas of shared interest related to Digital Placemaking that emerged from the workshops. We will be exploring these over the next eleven months as the fellowship progresses.

In the workshops, we were also joined by our industry partners, BBC R&D, City ID and Stride Treglown. Together with the fellows, they have spent some time mapping the existing landscape of people, businesses, projects and literature in Digital Placemaking. The list is primarily focused on the UK, but does include some international examples. This list is by no means comprehensive, and is almost certainly missing some key examples. We also know that it is not fully representative of the breadth of people and work happening in this field, but in the spirit of co-creation, we wanted to share it with you right now at the beginning of the Digital Placemaking pathfinder. You can read the list here. Please tell us what’s missing, what should we be reading, who should we be talking to and visiting? You can tweet us.

So, what next?

Whilst exploring and expanding the theme of Digital Placemaking, we have been identifying the gaps and discussing what we would like to exist in our cities. The fellows and industry partners are collaborating with us to design a brief for a production call out to make something in Bristol and Bath in 2020. We’re really excited about this opportunity and will open the call to industry this autumn.

We’re going to be busy over the next few weeks and months. The fellows will be introducing themselves and their research projects in a series of blog posts. The first is an interview between fellow Stephen Hilton and Director of the Architecture Centre Anna Rutherford, read it here. We will be announcing the production call out and programming a series of events across Bristol and Bath to open up the discussion around Digital Placemaking. If you are interested to find out more about any of those things and stay in touch, sign up to our newsletter below.