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Collaboration for Innovation in Place – a breakfast workshop

Posted on 7 October 2015

Written by:

Sophia de Sousa

The Glass-House believes that collaboration in placemaking can significantly improve the quality of places and how people interact with them. On the morning of 29 September, we brought together a diverse group of people and organisations with a shared interest in place, and in particular around housing, to explore what we might do differently through collaboration.

This was a space for experimenting and learning, using the cross-pollination approach we developed with our strategic partner Open University and other partners through action research.

The workshop format was simple. Participants were placed in four groups and asked to map projects, ideas and assets, and together to create a new project concept.  The groups each nominated an ambassador to pitch their concepts to other groups and to gather more assets and resources that could drive the project forward.

This was a quick taster of a collaborative process, but the project concepts that emerged were rich and full of potential. We spoke of: unearthing and mobilising underused community assets through placemaking; the arts and engagement in place to improve mental health in young people; a model to measure the social and economic impact of engagement in placemaking; and engaging young people as place transformers and ambassadors. The excitement in the room about the projects was tangible, as was the sense of opportunity that collaborating with diverse partners might open up.

Here are some reflections on the workshop:

“Excellent, positive, engaging, energising were just some of the words used by participants to describe The Glass-House ‘Collaboration for Innovation in Place’ event. By 10 in the morning we were on our way back to the office after a whistlestop tour of projects in the pipeline from housing associations, housebuilders and researchers. No time to sit back and listen, we worked together to develop and promote the best projects, understanding and using our collective resources. Impressive, how quickly and effectively we all did it, from a standing (and fairly early) start.

Right from the start Glass-House set out the objective: to make better places by working with people. Judging by the capability in the room, we are on track to achieve it.”

– Jane Briginshaw, Head of Design and Sustainability, Homes and Communities Agency

“The Breakfast Workshop was really invigorating. It was a great way to ensure action learning and to experience what The Glass-House is all about. I could imagine using this approach in a number of different situations and I feel that the lessons learned will be far more embedded than had we sat in a theatre style presentation.

Bringing together a cross section of people from different backgrounds but all willing to join in the process made the event both enjoyable and instructive. The ‘Project I am Working on’; ‘Project I would like to work on’; and ‘Resource I can contribute’ cards were really inventive and I think everyone would have taken something away to use in their own organisation.”

– John Giesen, Chief Executive, B3Living / Chair of Placeshapers

The guiding Glass-House message behind the workshop was that collaboration can unlock doors, mobilise creativity and resources, and provide valuable space to learn from and with each other.  Our door is always open for collaboration in placemaking, and we will champion it wherever we can.

Watch this space to see what emerges from our early morning conversation at Collaboration for Innovation in Place and contact us if you too want to get involved.