Co-DB were invited by Whitechapel Gallery to devise and deliver a set of workshops in response to the Elmgreen & Dragset Exhibition ‘This is how we bite our tongue’ as part of their Schools programme.
This presented an exciting opportunity to combine two of our passions at Co-DB: facilitating cp-design workshops and creating interventions which transform the use of space, public or otherwise, raising questions of who it is for and how it is used. In 2015, the Pop Up Parks van roamed London, stopping to create temporary play parks on public pavements, uncovering opportunities for play in the most ordinary public places, and encouraging people to see the city through a child’s eyes.
We set a design challenge - to propose a spatial intervention for their school, and gave them a palette of fun large scale materials with which to represent their ideas. We asked them to imagine how things around them could be different, and what that would feel like. How could they be adjusted so that they function better or were more enjoyable for people use them everyday.
It was great to see their imaginations explore the possibilities of how their school environment could be different, from the hanging sofa in the reading corner to the recycling zip line and the volcano stress reliever (both educational and a tool for relaxation).
The second design challenge was to imagine how the disused pool could be reinvented and re opened for as a public resource.
Working in groups, they shared their ideas and coordinated their efforts. They came up with a huge variety of imaginative concepts, and made installations and models which represented their ideas. These included an indoor pet park, kids play centre and giant sling shot.
It was really important to us that we met them as equals, legitimising the power of their imagination, adding weight and value to the amazing ideas they came up with. We asked them to have big ideas, and to think conceptually. At the end of each exercise they presented their ideas to the group, communicating their proposals with confidence and pride.