Animating Civic Space

Background:

 

Civic Theatre in Tallaght, Dublin invited us to run a Play:Disrupt event, bringing a variety of stakeholders together to kickstart a conversation about how to animate an underused public square. Civic Theatre wanted us to facilitate discussions to investigate the potential for stakeholder collaboration; establish what barriers were impacting activation of the space (and how these might be overcome), and identify potential new audiences.A letter had been sent to 7000 residents, but response rates were very low. The forum was keen to utilise creative methods to engage a broader audience in the consultation.

Delivery:

We led an active play-based workshop with local participants. This included mapping the square and neighbouring public spaces; building model towns to question our preconceptions; investigating the outdoor space through physical games and sketching ideas onto concrete with chalk. Through these activities we explored what the square appeared to be and what it could be; experimenting with routes, access, linking spaces and buildings; the group questioned ownership of the space, looking at suitable and unsuitable ways of using it; and questioned barriers and opportunities.

“All barriers to share an opinion were broken down quickly. I feel that the playful approach is a great way to start as it creates more of a desire to come back
to the conversation.”

“We are playful excitable people with great imaginations and are limited with the mundane task of getting on with things.”

Animating Civic Space Attendees

Outcomes:

 

This event was intended to function as a catalyst for continued development. The participants uncovered both physical and cultural barriers to using the square including its transient nature, intimidating colour, lack of seating and intimidating nature of design. There were several calls for shared use activities in the square markets, festivals, entertainment that could all be co-produced and a desire for more regular formal and informal meet-ups to strengthen connections. The processes utilised in the project were presented as part of Festival of Place in November 2020.

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