Working on a publication about the SRVD projects run at KHiO. Looking at the previous projects I got inspired again by the one at Veitvet centre held in 2011. It is so nice to read through the individual and collective journals the students kept and to see the many things they have done. That year, they really delivered a high level of creative processes, interventions and eventually toolkits to hand over to specific groups of the context.
The project set out to explore creative, cultural, social, economic and ecological diversities that exist within an urban retail / public services / entertainment complex going through a transition in its use in Veitvet, Oslo. The MA students collaborated with Trude Mette Johansen from district Bjerke and key stakeholders involved in the regeneration of Veitvet to collectively re-imagine this space.
With their open design processes, the students were able to revive the centre, inform the community of the regeneration process and engage users of this context in co-designing a more social and sustainable Veitvet. The creative interventions part of this process, varied from playful to silly to strategic etc. For instance, one of the students coined the idea to place bubble-wrap on some of the floor-tiles in the centre. There was no preconception, only a playful idea, trying out to see what would happen: visitors would unknowingly step on the bubble-wrap, causing popping sounds, surprising and sometimes startling moments. All responses were positive, people laughed and for that temporary moment it united people at the site, all sharing that element of surprise.
The group called the sailors – based on their metaphor for the centre as a harbour – created an intervention called ‘Flaskepost’ (message in a bottle). Through this they learned about how to reach people and involving them in forms of play and creativity. This group found out that many of the retailers and other users of the spaces of the centre barely knew each other. Without a social basis, it is hard to exchange and develop ideas together. It lead to the facilitation of an environment for local shop-owners to get together and exchange ideas, and the development of a contact-system. Striking about this group was that they were able to use their metaphor of the harbour in almost every intervention both in concept and visual language.
Another group built a scale model of the centre, inviting passersby to contribute their ideas and visions creatively. Resulting in the aspiration for a green(er) veitvet. They realised that it was a lot easier to engage people with a rough and unfinished idea and then co-design together. As a hand-over to the community they created a DIY kit to build a local garden, and also develop a strategy to involve the local community. They went around to inquire who could maintain it, going into the community house, asking parents and elderly to share their knowledge on how to build a garden. In that way, local knowledge became part of the toolkit as well as triggering the interest to participate. During their end-event at the kindergarten, six parents took on the ambassador-role to become guardians of the garden.
Finally, a group called the Jetsons, enjoyed the project the most. Not being scared at all and taking every opportunity to (fail and) learn. With playful strategies they developed various pop-up enterprises for exchange. For instance an exchange cafe and asking people in Oslo city centre for a gift for someone in Veitvet. They ended with a chandelier made out of colourful transparent hands, gathered by asking people to give a hand to Veitvet. Culminating in the creation of the chandelier as a symbol for sharing in this community together with a manual which contained many proposals for how to engage inhabitants of Veitvet, and ideas on how to use these ‘hands’ for new ways of exchange that would contribute to the centre.