CommunityCreative Participation

Destination Victoria Quays

Year | 2019
Location | Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, Sheffield UK
Clients | Canal and River Trust

The students, acting temporarily under the umbrella of the ‘Quay Collective’, were approached by the Canal and River Trust, a national charity for canal and river management, to re-imagine Sheffield’s historic canal as an oasis for well-being within an industrial area of the city. The Quay Collective developed a public engagement tool – the mobile community hub – to drive a sequence of collaborative designs between Victoria Quays and Tinsley Marina. The client had an abundance of ideas as to how they wanted to improve the canal and work towards their aspiration to promote wellbeing on and by the water. Through the process of development, the Quay Collective worked both in studio and in residence at Victoria Quays to be able to engage with the client and stakeholders on the future of the canal. Following on from this, the Quay Collective developed a brief that encompassed multiple avenues of improving the canal, developing the key themes of wellbeing, heritage, ecology and wayfinding. This led to a solution that aimed to rejuvenate the canal at four different scales: human, social, site and urban, all connected through the ‘mobile community hub’ as a tool for discussion and a catalyst for design. The hub uses themes of wellbeing, heritage, ecology, art and community to reach out to communities further along the canal.

 The developed brief is that of connection. Connecting people to people, people to place and place to place. It’s about placemaking. But it’s more than that, it’s about place purpose. The Quay Collective strives to be approachable and accessible and through this to encourage discussion and feedback around the future of the canal, as opposed to a spatial architectural solution. 

The mobile community hub was designed as a catalyst and as a tool for engagement for furthering ideas and discussions beyond a senseless development plan. The mobile community hub is more valuable than an architectural proposition in its ability to create a home for all activities wherever, whenever and however it is assembled. To volunteers, it is a place to hang their coats during long days of towpath improvements; to schools, it is a chest of making and canal themed creating, to the elderly couple on their morning stroll; it is an information point recreating days gone by, and finally, to the communities without a hub, it is their kettle and kitchen table, their space for conversation. 

 The Quay Collective also assembled a document to offer further information about the four scales of production, which will be used by the Canal and River Trust for applying for funding in future projects as discussed and developed within the duration of the live project. Amongst others, this includes more detailed information on the Veolia Funding application for a community workboat and a future woodland strategy which gives the mobile community hub easy access up and down the canal, enabling it to catalyse connection into the future of the canal.

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