For six weeks, the AR’ City Live Project team have worked in residence at Live Works, in the heart of Sheffield’s city centre, working with local young people to develop a series of interactive technological installations as proofs of concept for a ‘Playable City’ festival to be hosted by our client Aalfy. Aalfy, established by Zak Ahmed, is a Sheffield based social enterprise aimed at providing people with new skills in order to better their futures and provide unique and inclusive learning opportunities. Also located in Live Works, 108 The Moor, we have worked closely with our client throughout the project’s process, brief development, workshop facilitation sessions, concept recording and the production of final installations and client documents.
The concept of the AR’ City festival is based on the precedent of Playable City, an already successful festival running globally that inhabits host cities with playful elements of technology to interact and bring together the local community through the act of play. With each festival orientated around a social theme, AR’ City is focused on giving the young people of Sheffield a voice and agency over issues in their city that they believe can be addressed through playful technological installations.
To facilitate the development of such a festival in Sheffield, the team participated in and facilitated ‘young people ideation workshops’ in collaboration with our client. These aimed to develop an ‘Ideas Bank’ of recorded ideas that Sheffield’s young people shared and presented during workshop brainstorming sessions. These intensive workshops provided the base for thirteen main installation concepts that the Live Project team recorded, visualised and shared through an online ‘Ideas Bank’ resource now live as an additional page on Aalfy’s existing website. This platform was agreed as a way to facilitate sharing of the future AR’ City festival concept and ‘Ideas Bank’ while utilising the client’s existing resources and audience to provide maximum project exposure and reduce overall cost for the client moving forward.
Throughout the project, the Live Project team gained an understanding of Sheffield from a young local perspective which was a valuable opportunity to connect with and understand the issues faced within the city by the younger generation. This understanding and the workshop facilitation sessions prompted deeper collaboration and conversations with the client and amongst the group.
The team sought to establish a set of documents and outputs that both met and challenged the client’s original expectations and brief while also establishing a lasting legacy for the project that would help facilitate the client as AR’ City moves beyond the SSoA Live Project and continues to develop towards its September 2019 launch goal. These outputs included a set of five client documents with relevant information for Zak to utilise and distribute to different stakeholders. One of these documents is a future workshop facilitation guide that can be either utilised by the client or shared with colleges to facilitate their own ideation workshops, recording and sharing of ideas to grow the online ‘Ideas Bank’ database established by the team.
Additionally, three installation concepts were taken forward and developed in technical detail. Technical manuals for the construction and recreation of Hungry Bins and Musical Chairs stand as their own client document while the Sheffield Cinema has been taken forward through social media to test the concept within the local community.
All outputs and documents are supported by a developed branding language established by the team in the form of a developed logo, graphic design style and branded merchandise to be distributed at future events and to potential stakeholders.
All project outputs were displayed at an exhibition curated by the team at Live Works as part of the Social Arts Summit in Sheffield held on November 1st, 2018. This provided a great opportunity for AR’ City to be debuted at its first formal public event showcasing proof of working installation concepts. This was an invaluable exposure opportunity for the client and the legacy of the AR’ City Live Project that connected and established relationships between the project, Zak and local stakeholders passionate in getting involved with the project and taking it forward to realisation in the following September.