summing up

Almost ending 2010 and entering 2011, we sum up some of the things the Solution Office has done in the last months.

In October  we were in Portugal to facilitate many workshops which had wonderful outcomes and it felt we were able to share and exchange some knowledge and experience!

At LOFTE we ran 3 workshops The Dialogue Object, Change the System and I love trouble. At Faculdade de Belas Artes we ran a Socially Responsive Design workshop: The Perfect City

The dialogue object
Through very simple steps we asked the participants to create an object for a public space that brings people together and evokes a dialogue. For instance, everyone needed to write down reasons for people to meet and we introduced them to the materials to work with (all things found in streets of Porto). After some quick brainstorming we asked the participants to make 10-20 sketches. Keeping in mind, material, function, user, what it should bring about and location (we were supposed to take it outside, but it was raining cats and dogs). Then it was time to create: a coat hanger rack that transformed the space into a labyrinth when coats were placed on the hangers; a ‘roof’ from umbrella fabric above the couch; an idea box for LOFTE; and a box system / game which could only be used/ placed together by 2 people.


Change the system
In this workshop the aim was to stimulate empowerment and ways to improve the city. We asked the participants to state 5 things ‘not functioning’ in Porto. By re-framing the problem as a challenge, asking questions about it and combining it with something they liked about the city, they made sketches that could provide a solution to the problem. We discussed the ideas as meditation, water saving systems, community projects to raise awareness about pollution, light projections to raise self esteem and revalue the history of the city. Then we tested out the ideas with some role playing to find out the different user perspectives and how that solution could be implemented. Finally, they made the headline for an article in the newspaper telling about the problem being solved.


I love trouble
In this workshop we took the opportunity to try out random ideas for problem solving. We started with a funny empowerment exercise, in which the participants wrote down their skills and created superhero outfits based upon these competencies. After that we did various little exercises probing to turn the problem loneliness. For instance, we applied humour (telling a joke about it), translating it into different languages, drawing the shape and colour of the problem, etc. Finally we asked the participants to generate 10-20 ideas for a service, product or object which could help loneliness. Ideas as seating placement in public transport and parks, storytelling and running naked through a football stadium were some of the outcomes.

The Perfect City
The assignment was to rethink small areas in the city from an holistic perspective. They had to investigate the given area of the city to locate problems, assets and resources. By use of creative interventions and design processes they would generate stories, thoughts, ideas and answers together with the locals.

The team of four, started out with observing the given area individually and met up afterwards to share their viewpoints. They took pictures and audio recordings of the surroundings and the people they spoke with. One of the nice things they did was to make a drawing of the conversation when they were interviewing people. It gave an extra story to the the dialogue and it was also something they gave to the person being interviewed. At the presentation they showed a slideshow of their pictures, whilst playing a composition of the audio recordings.

They have come up with many ideas to execute periodically in the next year until the 24th of June, when it is St. Joao a national feast. For instance, to use the weekly flea market to collect wishes and complaints (with a shopping cart); having a performance at the outside laundry place, hanging up sheets and drawing ideas on them, washing them again, drawing an idea, washing, etc. and inviting the inhabitants to join in; using the audio recordings in different formats and at different sites in the city to gather attention about this deprived area ; make graphs, mappings and visualisations of the area, e.g. how many bathrooms and rooms there are for the amount of people living there; use the collected research material to form a package to hand over to the mayor of the city.

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