06 March 2019 / 09:00 AM / 2.06 Bush House
- With Rosa.
Strategic Consultation Idea
Following on from our previous meeting where we honed in on our aims for the presentation and decided to situate our utopic ideas within previous explorations of Utopia in London, we decided to construct our ‘strategic consultation’ in a deliberately problematic way, which can be pulled apart and interrogated afterwards. It will perhaps be overly bias or too optimistic; we will need to think about the specifics of this in the next meeting and in our document works.
This not only engages with the methodological and theoretical issues underpinning ideas of Utopia but also allows us to explore the topic without committing to a single vision of Utopia, which we were finding difficult to achieve. We found there were problems in coming up with answers to huge utopian questions such as ‘How should people live and work in the city? The scope was too broad to explore in this project and we would only be able to produce surface-level ideas. This lead us onto thinking about exploring utopian thinking by asking questions as a consultancy for the council to those who work, live and interact with ‘The City’, as a way of developing an interactive concept. Furthermore, thinking of the questions to ask for the purpose of city development allows us to engage with Utopian ideas in an imaginative and broad manner.
In a consultation we would raise all the issues we currently see with work and life in ‘The City’ and ask participants what they find is problematic. Then we would ask questions relating to how we can reform the situations and imagine a future alternative that engages is utopian in nature. We imagine that this would draw fragmented visions from the various different people involved, who may be residents, tourists or city workers.
Where would the Strategic Consultation take place?
Vinya suggested that our ‘strategic consultation’ could be staged in the park St Dunstan in the East Chuch Garden, near to Monument and in the centre of ‘The City’.
The idea would be that we would ask questions to people passing through the park about their work, and/or life in The City. This would help us understand life and work in ‘The City’ in the 21st Century (this is theoretical in the role play setting of the council, not something we will actually carry out).
However, we then decided to focus on specific groups because we realised that different people inhabit different parts of the ‘The City’ and for different reasons. There would perhaps be an unequal distribution of a certain kind of people in the garden, which would not provide our ‘council’ with a comprehensive understanding of people’s desires and visions. Furthermore, by talking to people, for instance, who live in The Barbican area and then to those who work in The Gherkin, we will address how the ‘The City’ is inherently fragmented in demographics, architecture and lifestyle. Indeed, creating solutions to current issues which were ‘utopic’ to these different actors was one of the reasons we decided not to come up with the solutions ourselves but rather interrogate the people who would be affected by city changes. This employs democratic agency in the space, which is our aim as a ‘council’, to represent and serve the people of ‘The City’.
Looking To Current Council Planning and Strategies
We then started to think how a council would actually frame a new plan or strategy to london and how the word ‘Utopia’ would be an unlikely term to use. Instead, we could think about ‘ideals’, ‘visions’ or even specific ‘London 2050’ futures. We could ask things like ‘What is your vision for a future London?’. In line with this, we will also identify in our role play as a council that we have a broad range of issues we want to address but we only have x time and x money so we will focus on x issues’. The exact issues to focus on will need to be decided by us next week.
Using Case Studies
Last session we came to the conclusion that utopias are informed by the past and present. This is why we would like to provide ‘case studies’ such as The Barbican to consultation participants.
Below is Vinya’ post to our Facebook group regarding The Barbican:
‘The city was depopulated by the bombings and destruction of ww2. There were plans to reconstruct with a bit emphasis on commerce shops businesses etc but concern that they would lose their political status without inhabitants: ‘historically a unique administrative entity’
They weren’t sure if they wanted ‘all those people’ living there but that evolved. The barbican was radical as a neighbourhood concept with residences schools a church shops and the arts centre. Radical also because it was inspired by utopian thinking like from the architect le corbusier.
‘The City wanted to make a statement about bringing back life into the boundaries of the financial City’.
Link to our skyscraper interest: barbican was the tallest residential building in the country for decades.
Sunday as a Focus
Vinya suggested focusing on Sundays in particular as a day where, commercially, things aren’t going on and there is an absence of city workers. The square mile becomes a site for tourists to explore both the history and modern dimensions of ‘The City’. We need to confirm if we wish to centre the vision for the city on Sundays or more generally.
Tasks Going Forward
Moving forward we have decided to look at current pubic council documents to model our own agenda and creative approach. We will look at the language employed to help construct our own council documents and agenda.
We will need to come up with endings to the following sentence starters (or similar) as discussed in the meeting:
Through our creative exploration we are hoping to achieve …
We want to raise questions and illustrate…
This supports our general argument that…
Some further questions we interrogated in the session are:
- What is the difference between positive thinking and Utopic thinking?
- Is Utopic thinking a danger to mindfulness?
- Does Utopia allows one to re-contextualise and lead to something new?
A Current Model for Presentation
- – Theory etc – 5 minutes – there is a history of… – what are the benefits of utopia as method – holistic – applicable to integrating physical/design & literary utopia.
- We have different audiences with different needs.
- Through the creative process we will show…
- Give past Utopia as a reference point and say this was the vision, how does it correspond to your current ideal for this place?
- Identify current issues & pose questions regarding this.
- Create an ‘agenda’ to give out to our ‘funders’ / ‘council’ etc
- Create a ‘big vision’ mission statement.
- Interrogate analytically the issues with the consultation.
- Write an introduction together engaging in methodology and theory.
- Write an agenda and vision – looking to current council documents for inspiration.
- Pick case studies to talk about in the consultation – The Barbican and The Gherkin?
- Identify current issues in the city and create questions around them.
- Critically analyse our consultation & address the ‘fragmentation’ of the project.
Next Meeting Agenda
We should work out our action plan for dividing the work above between us.
We should make it clear who we are pitching to – council or funders (are we a consultancy agency?).