Installation View of Seats at the Table. © Luke O’Donovan
‘Seats at the Table’ by Re-Fabricate and The DisOrdinary Architecture Project is a series of temporary installations, accompanied by a programme of events, installed at Postman’s Park in the City of London as part of London Festival of Architecture (LFA). The project was the winning design of ‘Co-designing Equity in the Public Realm’, a competition run by LFA, City of London Corporation, Culture Mile and Foundation for Future London.
The main installation is composed of a free-standing table surrounded by chairs, designed by school children through six workshops run by the project team. Accompanying this will be several additional accessibility improvements, designed by disabled artists and architects which have been created with help from Arts Council England funding.
Having a seat at the table means to share experiences and generate diverse conversation, ultimately leading to a world where accessibility and equity for all is an important and thorough consideration in any public space or built environment, so that all people can move freely through spaces and places without barriers or obstructions.
A workshop held as part of the project. Image courtesy of Re-Fabricate and tfhe DisOrdinary Architecture Project
The DisOrdinary Architecture Project and Re-Fabricate team have used co-design to form their design. They undertook collaborative workshops 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.
Workshops asked young people to think about how one would design a chair for someone with particular accessibility needs, including their own. Participants depicted their thoughts on use, materiality and access through sketches, model making and presentations; the ideas were distilled by the students themselves and then built by fabrication experts from the UCL B-Made workshops.
Members of the Seats at the Table design team. © Luke O’Donovan
Accessibility and sustainability been the central factors shaping ‘Seats at a Table’. This included the selection of the final site – Postman’s Park – as the most accessible of three alternatives, and where interesting creative access improvements could be added.
The table, seats and additional installations use reclaimed materials as much as possible (and will be recycled at the end of the Festival). Creative access elements include pre-arrival information in a variety of formats, together with some provocations about making equal spaces; resting spaces for people with chronic pain and related conditions; aural, tactile and visual sensory additions to parts of the park; and an audio-described soundscape and BSL video to enhance engagement with the Park’s Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice.
The launch event of Seats at the Table, part of the event’s programme. © Luke O’Donovan
‘Seats at the Table’ offers a meeting point for people to come together and take part in a series of free events organised by The DisOrdinary Architecture Project and Re-Fabricate. These will take place throughout June and will give a chance for people of all abilities, ages, backgrounds and professions to discuss the topic ‘In Common’, including ideas around accessibility and sustainability.
Together the installation and programme of events aim to challenge conventional public realm design and create a public space that moves towards being ‘truly accessible’. It is hoped that this project will act as a stepping stone for future projects to build upon and develop, through the creation of an associated ‘compendium of creative access’ funded by Arts Council England.
The installations and programme opened on Friday 2nd June, make sure to check the programme section of our website for more details.