Empowering people to improve their green spaces, enhance their environment, and boost wellbeing.
The Civic Horse is a small scale, temporary arena for community participation, exchange of ideas and collective initiatives. A playful urban artefact made of modular components that create attractive and enjoyable gathering places for the public. Each component will bring a specific 'civic function' to the site: new seating areas, communal planting, micro-library, notice board, mini-playground, display surfaces for artists... Its aim is to revive civic spirit and engagement across town, as the civic horse visits different neighbourhoods and adopts distinct configurations tailored to each site and each specific community. Its different parts will be freely arranged (co-designed and co-built) by locals to suit their specific needs and preferences, making it a playful collaborative and learning tool. To achieve this, a group of local designers and makers will train a group of local volunteers (mainly youth at risk and unemployed) on how to configure and build their own local civic horse.
What we'll deliver:
Why it's a great idea:
In times of financial crunches, public cuts and political uncertainty, we need more than ever powerful and effective mechanisms for local communities to decide on their lifestyles and future. Small, adaptable structures like The Civic Horse can rapidly supply the participation spaces needed while awaiting more definitive, larger projects to be realised. Our neighbourhoods need more open spaces where citizens can freely propose and discuss initiatives or display new ideas and creations, while sitting and chatting, having a cup of tea, waiting for their children, enjoying the sun, exchanging books... A new network of micro civic arenas. Collaboration instead of imposition is key to empower communities: By bringing together young creatives and vulnerable groups we will foster a healthy exchange of knowledge and facilitate transmission of useful skills amongst different sectors of the community, hence increasing the sense of ownership and belonging to a cohesive and solidary collective.
Steps to get it done:
The first iteration of The Civic Horse will be located in Bethnal Green, a vibrant area of Tower Hamlets with one of the most diverse communities in London. Here highly trained creative professionals coexist with a considerable amount of unskilled adolescents and young adults. To tackle growing inequalities we propose an innovative symbiosis between these groups, one that fosters inclusiveness and creative solidarity. Training of volunteers will include basic design skills and use of software, basic carpentry and basic use of digital manufacture tools such as laser and CNC cutting machinery in local workshops. The specific location will be between the GLL York Hall Leisure Centre and the V&A Childhood Museum, two of the main civic facilities within the neighbourhood, at the crossroads between Cambridge Heath Road and Bethnal Green Road.
About the space
Tower Hamlets Borough
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
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