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MAADx2 Studio: Representations of Civil Society

Studio Tutors: Dr. Nishat Awan, Dr. Teresa Hoskyns,

Parametric Workshop: Dr. Nishat Awan, Phil Langley

MAAD Students: Yuan Chang, Chen Guo, Xuan Guo, Ding Li, Marinela Petrina Pasca, Qian Wu, Fengyan Zhu

PhD Students: Sukaina Almousa, Maryam Fazel, Carl L Fraser, Ting Ting Han, Julia M Udall, Shuyou Zhang

The studio takes representation as its theme in its dual sense, as political representation and participation as well as spatial representation, drawing and mapping. We aim to discover links between political representation and spatial practices in the city.

1. Mapping St Pauls [London]

The first part of the project is participation in a mapping project of public spaces in the city of London, centred around the Occupy London campaign at St Paul’s Cathedral. We will make a series of critical maps and a joint studio map that investigate the issues arising from the use of public space in the city, as well as researching the practice of mapping itself. Beyond the mapping of what exists, what new agencies are there are for the practice of mapping? How can representation occur as an embodied spatial practice that is both propositional and can imagine new possibilities? The maps will investigate:

i. Private/public space in the City of London – who owns the land, what is the status of the land (i.e. public access, private, privately owned public space (POP)) and what are they doing with it? (Perhaps also look up the by-laws that govern use of space). This will mainly involve conducting research into the status of land.

ii. Exploring the City of London – dérive, to explore the increasingly blurred boundaries between public and private space. Whilst the status of the land/space may declare one thing, e.g. public space, what is the lived experience of that space? Is it really public? What can we do in this space? Can we play Twister, have a picnic, hold a debate, take photos/make videos? Who is watching over the space?

iii. Online participatory map – for people to record their experiences of ‘public’ spaces in the City of London.

iv. Resistance in the City of London – mapping other groups’ acts of resistance in the City of London to make us aware of the other on-going struggles in this space, in order for Occupy London to establish links with these groups, and to build a strong community amongst us all.

2. Mapping the Town Hall [Sheffield]

Taking the ways of working and insight from the Mapping St Pauls project, we will apply these to our local context of Sheffield. Working in groups we will explore issues related to your own interests and in relation to civil society, public space and civic encounter. The maps, drawings, soundscapes, videos (…) will explore questions relating to:

i. The relevance of the Town Hall in contemporary cities and society

ii. What other forms of political and social organisation can be found in Sheffield? Are groups self-organised, have network or hierarchical structures, are based around friendships, common interests etc.

iii. How do these different groups manifest themselves in public space? How is their presence archived within the spatial experience and fabric of the city?

3. Open Studio

The third part of the year will investigate the role of public space in civil society. We will critically assess the role of organisations and groups we have studied – for example, the successes and failings of models such as NGOs or community groups, either participating in the civic or organising dissent? How are they represented, in local government, in the city, or in the media and the Internet. We will design strategies for investigating the role of public space in civil society, or other related questions that may emerge from our initial research, using our design research to critique the power structures of the city and to suggest alternatives. We will be asked to make spatial interventions for ‘designing civic encounter’ that could concentrate on one site or could be multiple throughout the spaces of the city.

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