Manchester School of Architecture Projects group (msap) have spent this year using their architectural skills and imaginations in collaborative projects working to make Manchester more inclusive. Through a series of creative and collaborative workshops involving a diverse range of invitees, we explore how we can imagine, design and influence the future of the city (initially the city of Manchester) as a place shared between people of all ages, attitudes and occupations.
We engage directly with people of all ages who are affected by and who affect the city's development, including its policy makers and social agencies. We have structured the unit to be open to be affected by these unusual meetings and encounters and use these engagements to develop ideas, inspirations and projects. These engagements are affective in two directions - the aim of our work is to share knowledge, not only to gain it - and the hope is two-fold - firstly that our interventions might contribute to a fairer city and secondly that those interventions will enable us to produce fairer architectures.
The unit has been funded to undertake its engagement work over this year and last by the 'Generations Together', Cabinet Office project. The work of the unit is actively being used to promote an inclusive urban design agenda at local government and national government in the UK, and we are developing a research network working with partners in Berlin, Brussels, Ireland and Keele in the area of inclusive urban design. The unit has developed a methodology of engagement over the last four years which has produced an innovative collaboration between social scientists, city officials and the school of architecture, and we have recently been consulted on these issues by The Centre for Social Justice. We have engaged over 700 members of the public in discussions about inclusive urban design in the last two years.
The students projects in the portfolios are divided into five sections which correlate to five key points for inclusive urban design which we have developed in partnership with Manchester City Council through the inclusive urban design engagement workshops and conferences funded by the Sharing the City programme.
Pursuing Projects - the architect is an active agent and can go out into society and find issues, people and situations in which their expertise is useful, we need not wait for nor court patronage.
Knowing More - understanding a site, a city or a programme must both involve the people affecting and affected by proposals.
Advocating inclusion - local issues and specific knowledges have to be supported, raised and tested in larger forums to enable fair claims to the city and to prevent exclusive campaigns.
Our Community - involvement in a community inverts the traditional notion of participation, the architect becomes a necessary part of the community.
Big Society - working for a better society, using our architectural skills to make the city a place shared between all ages, attitudes and occupations occurs in a real political climate, addressing the policies of the government of the day.
Thank you for your attention,
The next engagement event for the unit is being planned for CUBE gallery in Manchester in September to coincide with Manchester City Council's Full of Life Festival and Big Event. If you would like to be informed of future events, please email: Stefan White.