Birmingham X Birmingham: Design Journey

This short film is a spark to ignite the Birmingham, Alabama/ Birmingham, England trans-Atlantic design exchange through Mobile Studio’s: Station to Station platform. These two cities share an intertwined history of industrial power, and manufacturing capability, as well as a commitment to renewing these traditions by design in the 21st century.

The film explores the role of creative industries in urban place making and regeneration. The goal is to connect community transformation projects and interested citizens with the universities and businesses that create a route for talent into work in our city and region, to create and enhance quality of life. This is a matter of expanding access, overturning barriers, inviting dialogue, and celebrating innovative achievements.

Design Week Birmingham of Alabama http://dwbhm.com/, meets Birmingham Made Me of the Midlands, UK, http://birmingham-made-me.org/, and through collaboration and co-creation, aims to expand the network of participants and opportunities.

 

Tame River Birmingham: MOBILE STUDIO WITTON, ENGLAND

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mobile Studio partnered with MADE: a center for place-making in Birmingham, England and a team of landscape architects, artists and public historians on Tamed, a 60-year vision plan for the Witton neighborhood and its urban wild river. In a week, Mobile Studio presented the opening lecture of Birmingham City University’s Institute for Arts and Design International Lecture Series, ran a graduate level/fourth grade workshop on river justice, and activated a local free space as a temporary art studio/kitchen/recycling and community exchange radio station. We will be working with this wonderfully diverse group to pursue corporate funding as a match to the National Arts Council and Environmental Agency’s initial support of the project to contribute to both public place-making and landscape infrastructural enhancements.

Birmingham, England is a city of great history and contemporary civic imagination. Home to the 800-year-old market, the Bull Ring, and more canals than Venice, the city continues to re-invent itself, most recently through the construction of the worlds’ most fabulous public library. With rooftop terraces and a year-round film series, this newest investment in 21st century culture exemplifies a commitment to the beauty of openness and inclusivity.

DSC_0220However, a few kilometers up river, in the former ammunition factory district of the city, the heartland of war efforts, lies a neighborhood that suffers flooding rather than benefiting from the romanticzation of its pre-Victorian infrastructure and such investments in arts & design. Witton, now home to Pakastani, Kashmiri, Shri-lankan, Polish, Slovakian, Ethiopian, Tanzanian, Jamaican and many other immigrants and refugees, remains a working class neighborhood of diminished access to its natural resources. Thriving, despite gritty urban circumstances, and perhaps because of them, the extraordinary Deykin Avenue Infant and Junior school children and resourceful old-timers of the shops have banded together to lead Witton in a plight for sustainable re-design.

Mobile Studio enters the mix to facilitate this dialogue between community, designers, and policy makers. We believe in reciprocity and activate the power of thinking in public. We practice our now tested and reviewed method of participatory action research, an approach to scaffolding up the design arts education ladder to translate the messages of children regarding the future environmental justice of the river to a public art installation and 60-year local and regional design proposal for the Tame. Through the performance of the Saturday community based drawing/cooking studio, we engaged the neighborhood at large in this discussion, and transformed a forgotten corner of green space into a vital civic center. These actualities become the basis of future built works.

DSC_0175

For more information about the project and partners please check out:

http://www.made.org.uk/

http://www.bcu.ac.uk/biad

http://tamedproject.blogspot.com/