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Getting local people involved in what their streets will look like

About the project

Urban planner Richard Eastham from the design practice Feria Urbanism will be creating an innovative way for local people to get fully involved in plans for Ryde’s High Street update.

He and his colleagues will be bringing a set of foam blocks that look rather like the ones children play with except these are super-sized for adults.
They are light and can be easily moved but they are strong enough that they can be sat on and even stood on.
The idea is to invite people to move them into different patterns to create a streetscape for different groups of people. People taking part might be asked to be moved to create a place where people can sit and enjoy the sunshine.

We know that local people know their streets better than us and they know where the sun will be for most of the day for people to enjoy a resting place.
They will be asking for the blocks to be arranged in different ways for teenagers or children and even for a socially distanced space.

A group of invited representative stakeholders will be asked to come along and work with Feria Urbanism but we know that other people who just happen to be passing will also get involved and the information received from them is just as valuable.

It is a performative piece where people can collaborate and share ideas as they tackle the scenarios and challenges they are set. The day will be captured on stop-motion video and photographs will be taken to capture what happens.

Richard and the team enjoy the unexpected conversations and where they have done this in places like Dorchester and Cirencester they have had great engagement. (In fact in one place they had a couple come and sit on the blocks to have their lunch).

Working like this with local people allows them to establish a series of concepts and from that they can translate those concepts into workable, practical solutions. Following the workshops Feria Urbanism will come back with design sketches that incorporate what they have learned by using the building blocks.

They are a team of four and Richard’s colleagues Jennie Savage, Henrike Johannsen and Laura Mulhern will be joining him in Ryde for the workshops on December 9 and 10. Given the time of year, they will have a wet-weather plan in place and can set up in a church hall nearby if needed.

Project Location