project description


The most adaptive users of public space are children. Public space plays a major role in their development – as territory for meeting, exchange, and fantasy; as loci of collective memory; as environments of controlled risk. The playground constitutes only a small part of a growing child's range.

The contemporary trend in planning is towards the creation of sterile, defensible space that is designed around work, consumption, and phobia (and, increasingly, managed by private interest). This is the exact opposite of a space that accomodates unpredicted encounters, encourages plural uses, and generates initiative. A major step towards an open society lies in rethinking public spaces as spaces in flow, open to improvised use and dynamic processes – as learning environments, for young and old.  

Children are invited into this project as researchers and designers, with unique expertise in the creation of play, curious exploration, and imagination beyond regulation ('blue-sky thinking'). They will share their perceptions, responses, and fantasies as they reconstruct spaces they know as architectural models made of paper. These models will then be incorporated into a standard 3D CAD modelling of the neighbourhood.

The core question: will their narratives reveal existing qualities of (or present visions of) public space, that could be developed to create environments of informal learning for all, regardless of age?

further reading:
Ward, Colin. The Child in the City. 1978
Travlou, Penny. Teenagers and Public Space Literature Review. 2003.


photos: Ray Truby 2010



'Working Together' Saturday 9 October, 10am 6pm, at The Public, New Street, West Bromwich, B70 7PG 

'Working Together' is the slogan on the hoardings of many construction sites that form part of the regeneration of West Bromwich, West Midlands. Together in this are local government and large corporations as well as charities and other voluntary and non-profit bodies, as has become typical across the UK and beyond in a development most recently captured in the new government's notion of 'Big Society'.

Concluding our investigation into the specific, but also typical developments in the post-industrial suburban town of West Bromwich, with a new arts building, ThePublic, and a new superstore, Tesco, this conference will look into the impact of this partnership form of governance on urban development and related cultural production, and more widely the potential to act for the common good based on social justice rather than private gain.

The artists and researchers will present their contributions to the project within this wider perspective, complemented by a guided walk around the key development sites in the town. This event will also be a final opportunity to visit our research centre-stall in the local market. It will close at the Zast Real Estate office, supported by the Goethe-Institut London, where participants can view and suggest improvements to neglected features of the locality assisted by agency director Thomas Bratzke.

Contributors include: Steven Conolly (Town & Regional Planning, University of Sheffield), Karen Leach/John Morris (Localise West Midlands), Robin Pearson (local historian, tbc), and participating artists and researchers Cody Lee Barbour, David Berridge, Céline Siani Djiakoua, John Dummett, Anna Francis, Neil Gray, Michelle Letowska, Manu Luksch, Heather Ring, Leo Singer, Suzan Spence, Urban Research Collective & curator Monika Vykoukal.


Black country creative advantage is a two-year partnership of the Centre for Art, Design, Research and Experimentation at the University of Wolverhampton and the Longhouse scheme of the arts organisation Multistory and supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.



13 x projections in public

Commissioned by the Institute for Art in Public Space Styria and by Diagonale, the Festival of Austrian Film, four Austrian film-makers produced cinematic works exploring the theme of public space, within the context of a projection carried out in public space.
The films will be shown on selected façades of public and private buildings in a total of 13 different municipalities of west Styria from 6 to 18 October 2010. One particularly important aspect for the artists was to involve local people in the process of making the films.
Following on from Institute for Art in Public Space Styria projects that concentrated on text (TextBild MMIX, 2009) and sound (the DUR series, 2008 and SSS –Social Sound Systems, 2009/2010) in public space, it is now time for the “moving pictures” of film and video to conquer public space.
With this project outside its festival programme, Diagonale aims to present contemporary forms of film and video to a wider audience beyond cinemas and so open up new perspectives.

Commissioned Artists:
Miriam Bajtala Die Übung
Annja Krautgasser 1-minute-rendezvous
Manu Luksch Architekturbüro LichtPause
Jan Machacek ghost room – four performative videos