Wilkomen, Benvenuti, Welcome... - Experiencing Communities - Group Project

Deadline: November 12, 2003; 1pm

Background


The premise of this project is to investigate different aspects of a community. There are many ways in which designers experience a community. For example on a macro level designers belong to a global community of other design professionals, whilst actively participating in the human community. At the same time, on daily bases they attend to needs of various communities through their design work. On the micro level designers have to work in teams to achieve their projects.

The purpose of this project is to further develop these community skills. By working in teams you are given the opportunity to deepen your team work abilities. You create and adapt strategies that allow you to benefit from the knowledge of your team and contribute to that knowledge. These skills are crucial in your ability to develop good professional design practice. Therefore, in participating in this project you are asked not only to engage with the theme, but also to embrace, examine and reflect on the notions of community as its active member.

Insight

Part of this project includes a live placement exploring the Italian community in London. This investigation is presented by an external client, who will impart his requirements and introduce the particular context of the Italian community.

Investigating communities in London can be an exciting and insightful experience, due to the multicultural nature of the city. Each of these communities often has a meeting point that allows asserting its distinctiveness from others and cultivating its unique cultural activities. An example can be The Salsa Bar on Charing X road which has become a symbol of Latin America and Brazilian culture in particular. Upon entering the physical space we become immersed in the Latin American experience through a variety of spatial, sensual and cultural clues. It is these clues that allow us to recognise the distinctiveness or similarity of the community in relation to our own.

An investigation of such a site can translate into a project using design to mediate between an author and a reader; a digital experience of a particular social order represented by the community.

Objectives

The aim of this project is to develop your ability to contextually locate your work and enhance your design process. The project prompts analysis of your own viewpoint or perspective against others within the community. In many cases the project will require that you give up or shift your position to engage with different participants within the community. By participating in live aspects of the project you will also develop your abilities to work within a time scale answering client demands.

Task

You are given a specific site representing the focal meeting point of a community. Your task is to physically engage with this particular site. You will need to visit it more then once to collect a variety of observation. It is important that you revisit the location at different times or events to record a multitude of experiences and tensions. Your observations should also include a record of networks that exist within the community as well as link it with the larger context. These networks can be physical or abstract or conceptual in nature.

Your record of the meeting place and its community should be both visual and verbal. The more you record the better. When you make your observations they can be:

* in form of sketches of the space or people

* things you have collected from the space

* photographs of the space taken by you or others (if possible).

The key here is to immerse yourself in the experiences of the community and record material aspects of its manifestation.

Once you have completed your observations and you feel you have an ‘insiders’ understanding of this particular community, you need to proceed with your designing. At this stage you only need to develop storyboards that translate into possible virtual representation of your community. These story boards function as sketches of possible models of your community that your group can use as a basis for the live project. When creating your storyboards you are required to translate the essence of your community. This might be embodied by a particular narrative symbolising your community or through your own reading of the experiences you encounter whilst visiting its site.

Following the external client presentation, you are required to use your observations, storyboards and writing to create an Internet site answering the live brief of this project. You are free to implement your ideas and observations you have made, in any way you see fit. However, in your designing of the online site you need to acknowledge the requirements of the client.

As with previous project you are going to reconcile the fact of not knowing, risk taking and uncertainty. However, this time there is an additional tension of a live project imposing time and management demands. A way to answer these challenges is through an ongoing process of discovery supported by a rigorous investigation into the given situation.

Process

The intention of the process of this project is to deepen you knowledge and skills informing your design process. Therefore, it is crucial that you document your ideas and concepts with drawing, modelling and writing. This will also form a key element in assessment of your produced work.

In engaging with and rediscovering communities, you are asked to initially disengage yourself from the computer and observe and participate physically in those communities. As important part of the design process you are asked to visit the meeting places of particular communities to observe them. To support and help you develop rich and exciting ideas, you are asked to visually and verbally record your observations in your sketchbook.

Outcomes

The project asks for two outcomes:

* A rediscovery of the community recorded through sketches, models and story boards.

* Using the recorded observations, a design of an interactive digital experience for the community presented in the live project.