Co-designing Equity in the Public Realm

Location: Postman's Park
Date: 2023
Status: Temporary
Project Types: Street furniture
Client: City of London Corporation, Culture Mile, Foundation for Future London

In June 2022 we launched an Open Call for ‘Co-designing Equity in the Public Realm’ in collaboration with the City of London Corporation, Culture Mile, and Foundation for Future London. The competition invited multi-disciplinary design teams to deliver one or more temporary public realm interventions in Smithfield and East London that would collectively develop a deeper understanding of the public’s experience of streets and public spaces. 

The winning project was Seats at the Table by Re-Fabricate and The DisOrdinary Architecture Project, which explored the intersection between equity, accessibility, and sustainable design. The final design was installed in Postman’s Park throughout June 2023 . The team also ran a series of talks, workshops and discussion events that formed part of London Festival of Architecture’s 2023 edition.






Winning Design


Seats at the Table by Re-fabricate and The DisOrdinary Architecture Project

Seats at the Table © Luke O’Donovan

Seats at the Table is composed of a free-standing table surrounded by six chairs that have all been co-designed with school children through six workshops run by the project team. These creative workshops took place with disabled and non-disabled artists and architects, six Special Educational Needs (SEN) and mainstream schools in East London, as well as makers from The Bartlett, UCL Here East and asked students to think about how one would design a chair for someone with particular accessibility needs, including their own.

Seats at the Table © Luke O’Donovan

The final scheme was installed in Postman’s Park in June 2023, alongside a number of site interventions designed to make the park a more accessible venue which included aural, tactile and visual sensory additions to parts of the park; resting spaces for people with chronic pain and related conditions; and an audio-described soundscape and BSL video to enhance engagement with the park’s Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice. The scheme also provided public pre-arrival access requirements in a variety of formats.

The Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice was accompanied by an audio-described soundscape and BSL video © Luke O’Donovan

Across June, Re-fabricate and DisOrdinary ran an accompanying programme of events in Postman’s Park including an opening and closing party for the project which invited collaborators and the public to see and learn about the installation in an informal context, a talk by David Gisson on ‘The Architecture of Disability’, hands-on workshops on the circular economy and a guided meditation on the radical qualities of rest.

Additional spaces for rest at Postman’s Park © Luke O’Donovan

 

Afterlife

After proving to be so well-loved by members of the public, Seats At the Table’s period of installation was extended by the Diocese of London from 30 June until 23 July, after which the seats are being rehomed, most of them being received by the schools who participated in the co-design workshops and other SEN schools across London. 

 

In March 2023 Re-fabrciate and DisOrdinary won a grant from Arts Council England for additional funding for the project to support the site interventions, events and also the production of a compendium of creative access ideas aimed at cultural and built environment sector professionals, generated from and building on materials produced throughout the Seats at the Table project. The learning from this project summarised in the compendium has the potential to have a lasting legacy in the development of Smithfield’s public realm and in future projects in the city and beyond.

Seats at the Table © Luke O’Donovan

 

Press 

London Festival of Architecture 2023: the best free events across the capital this month — from street installations to studio lates

Accessibility-focused proposal wins the Co-designing Equity in the Public Realm competition

Installation at Postman’s Park explores accessibility in public spaces

More Competitions.

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