Wednesday, May 30, 2007

designcity symposium



I'm getting away early from work tomorrow to attend the designcity symposium at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. I've no idea what to expect...
This international symposium, in co-operation with Europäisches Haus der Stadtkultur e.V. (EHSK), Gelsenkirchen, NAI, Rotterdam and The Lighthouse, explores how city spaces affect our communication, mood, thoughts, and feelings. Sometimes confusing, often enlightening, city spaces are alive with sensations. Speakers from three countries - Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland - will examine how designed and un-designed spaces in their cities affect people on a personal level.
...but have a feeling it'll be fun. I'll report back tomorrow.

U*P*D*A*T*E
Thoroughly enjoyed this lecture. Almost had a clue what the speakers were talking about.... almost!

Some of the highlights for me were...

DesignCity Symposium

Jonathan Charley (pictured above) reading from his work entitled "A conversation in the ministry" - at times very funny... at others direct and insightful. He talked of a city with style and a smile that goes the extra mile that made me laugh.

Alan Pert from NORD [Northern Office for Research and Design] was brilliant. His observations on Glasgow's street life following the smoking ban were really insightful and helpful. He spoke of how the pavements in the city have been appropriated by bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes; for smokers... and how this is an opportunity. Glasgow wants to be a European centre like Rome and Paris... and the smoking ban may actually help in getting people out onto the streets.

He also spoke of some unexpected outcomes from the ban... such as the social phenomenon of SMIRTING - smoking and flirting! In Dublin, some argue that smoking is sexy again as a result of smirting. Crazy but true. Another outcome is patio heaters... that seemingly release from CO2 in a couple of hours than an ordinary car, stationary with its engine running all day. Mental!

Another insight he had was the need for nicer ashtrays on the sides of buildings... something we would have invested in the Victorian days. He also spoke of work he is involved in bringing back public conveniences. Fab.

Another highlight for me was the talk from Agnes Wijers from the Netherlands. She is a hugely talented artist [the kind of person who should be on Cool Hunting Video]. She spoke of the public domain as space where action and intervention happen.

She spoke of the gap between intention and actual use... which was useful. She spoke of how the public domain [not just public space but interaction and media as well] needs to be created - it is not a natural phenomenon - and its something that we need to protect as it isn't as evident as before.

She spoke about cultural mobility as the essence of public domain - this is where we are challenged / encouraged to engage and relate with others. Where we get the sense of a place through its inhabitants... where there is space for community in the making... where people get an image of their community and, in doing so, gain a sense of belonging.

Some of the other speakers were good in their own unique ways... Ursula Banks was very funny [destroying the reputation that Germans lack humour].

Good times. Nice to get out the box! More please Glasgow!

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