There are not many people I know that can rouse a big audience on a wet Monday night in February to tackle a big debate around design, but for my good friend Sophia de Sousa and the brilliant team at the The Glass-House Community Led Design this was customary excellence and collaborative discourse at its best. (Many old friends, many new connections is not a bad basis for a call to action though!)
The set-up was simple: 4 tables, 4 prompts for debate:
Ecology, Practice, Community, Education
Pick your place, choose your battle…
The one overarching theme was complex: our response to Crises, how can that be more inclusive?
The energy in the room was tangible.
The audience was diverse, a mix of older and younger and younger minds, bringing together a broad reach of expertise from practice, with one crucial twist – the event was co-hosted and facilitated by student from UCL. Students in the teaching role – how refreshing!
Making and Debating
The groups at the four tables set out to discuss the four prompts: Ecology, Practice, Community, Education: with the aim of making a model within forty minutes to embody an approach, a concept, a proposition…
The young voices in the room were not shy to express their views and an intuitive boldness of expression in the models gave way to clarity and simplicity in the values and outcomes they embodied:
‘let messy nature be messy’,
‘break down the barriers to engage with those in power’
‘can education be more horizontal and accessible to all?’
‘can practice be more open and more present in our communities?’
Sophia positing the crucial role of play to activate discussion on serious matters; serious play leading to a playful exchange of views
There was an expression of diversity, inclusivity and creativity made manifest in models, diagrams and doodles.
Immediacy in place of deliberation, instinct in place of caution.
What next and what did we learn?
At the end of the night we were all asked to pen a postcard with our takeaway thought. I penned ‘strength in many voices’, another voice opted for ‘listening more’, another for ‘don’t just write postcards, take action’.
So strength, listen, action – a positive end to a fabulous evening.
And a final compliment to UCL and our student facilitators for taking this evening to share, to express and to teach.
Roles reversed, streams of enquiry, a confluence of thoughts, anxieties, dreams and hope.
This blog was written by Stephen Smith, Partner at Wright & Wright Architects and a longstanding Glass-House Enabler.