Day 9: Showtime


Finally our time had come, the last day, the final frontier, it was presentation time! We said goodbye to the overground line to Stratford and hello to the lower ground lecture theatre of Bedford Way. After attempting to reorganise everyone’s roles in the presentation we made the controversial decision to stick to the parts that each individual had actually prepared. Despite our lack of post-it notes or any real speaking order, we sat near the front eagerly anticipating our time to shine.


We may not have had as many slides as Group 1 (IROKO) or the artistic abilities and props of Group 4 (Creative Wick) but our spirit and passion burned bright! Fortunately our project was well received. The longitudinal structure of our scheme and engagement of various companies within Here East was highly commended. We also received useful suggestions that we hadn’t considered such as integrating Here East’s current programme designed to target university students. This idea was concurrent with our overall aim to implement a longitudinal programme that reinforces attitudes and beliefs relating to equal opportunities on a consistent basis. Therefore if we were pitching this solution to the LLDC we would take time to discuss the possibility of joining with this programme.

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After a quick lunch break we returned to Bedford to evaluate and reflect on the programme. In typical human-centred design fashion we grabbed post-it notes and wrote down our opinions on various reflective questions regarding the (Un)Urban strand. We found people would have preferred more time for such large projects and possibly smaller groups for more concentrated discussions. Students also seemed to contribute and take away similar aspects such as communication skills, understanding and insight. A common theme amongst questions regarding what people gained and enjoyed was an appreciation and understanding of the human centred design process and multidisciplinary teamwork. Thus overall despite being in it first year the (Un)Urban strand was a great success!


Eventually, we attended the final cross-strand event and witnessed talks and video presentations from various other strands. These ranged from drawn animations created by the outbreak strand to a homemade video from those working on Sustainable Cities. At first the idea of sitting in a lecture hall for an hour so soon after exams was far from exciting, however the presentations were well thought out, educational and entertaining. Each strand seemed to offer a wealth of opportunity for learning, growth and enjoyment. Fortunately, the organisers were smart enough to save the best till last resulting in (Un)Urban closing the presentations. Despite the time restrictions our group delivered a clear and concise insight into the progress made in those short two weeks.

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After UCL’s Vice Provost (Education & Student Affairs) delivered a closing speech we all shuffled out towards the cloisters to admire the fruits of our labour and exchange as many drink tokens as we could find. Amongst the buzz of celebrating students our poster hung loud and proud, a dazzling mint green example of excellence. No but really our poster was great. The perfect Microsoft word template complimented the perfect project and we were proud to admire our innovative and engaging creation. It was safe to say we struck lucky, not only with the challenge we received and the group members whose company we shared but also with the strand overall. From the diverse discussion panels in UCL lecture theatres to enjoying Stour Space and its beautiful surroundings this programme really went above and beyond my expectations and if it were socially acceptable to redo it next year I’d be the first to apply!



Last day: Withdrawals

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And UnUrban is definitely one of the good things, to say the least (I could go on and on about it).

Definitely jump at the chance to work beyond what you’ve known and discover new places and people. This programme is going to be as fun, beneficial and engaging as you want it to be. Essentially, it really depends on your contribution. The higher you invest in this programme, the higher the return that you will (hopefully) get.

I won’t give too much away so that you can experience it yourself what it means to join this strand.

Special shout out to Hannah for organising this and to all the navigators for spending loads of hours insight-ing us in this programme.

So after hours and hours to find the right music and combination, here is my journey in this programme. Hopefully it’ll  be yours in the future:

P/S Just thought that we deserve a video as well.




Day 7: A Match Made In Hackney

As we were coming to the last days of the Global Citizenship Programme we knew that it was time to bring our research and ideas to life. The day began with the team further discussing and finalising the potential concepts to use and after heavy brainstorming and poodle-drawing, we were able to narrow down to two brilliant ideas: A ‘speed dating’ app and a wedding.

All of this was displayed in one big story-board


Prototype 1: A Speed Dating Community Events App

So one of the issues we had was thinking of a way to congregate members of the Hackney Wick area, old+new and develop a tight knit, cohesive community. The answer was that an app can take you very far in this day and age. Without going into too much detail, the app is centred on advertising sporadic featured events funded by Creative Wick to help newer residents as well as old to familiarise with each other and share their wealth of expertise. Essentially, we want this app to be a tool any member of the community can use to organise events and network with their neighbours.

A possible feature in the app is a profiling map:

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Prototype 2: The Wedding Of Hackney Wick

Whaaaaaaaat?! Yes, you’ve seen it all now. But It’s now 2016 so i guess places can get married too…? To themselves? Oh get over it!

This idea here intrigued me the most, I heard in some countries when a influx of new people settle in a neighbourhood they throw a big party to solidify themselves into the community. So we thought why not do the same here in the form of a ‘marriage’ ceremony? Hopefully at this event the residents of Hackney Wick can come down to celebrate a new beginning and eat some cake or whatever wedding-y stuff people do. Everyone’s invited!

After a lot (A LOT) of divergent and convergent thinking our team did a great job to generate two solid and very realistic ideas. All in all it was a very productive day that puts us in a strong position for the final two (L) days so we definitely can be proud of what we have learned and achieved thus far.

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The Wedding Invitation

Day Six: Interviewing and Empathy

Today we focused on interviewing and field research to gain insight into the local community; their demographic, needs, aspirations, thoughts and behaviour.

Responding to the R-urban challenge 2, ‘How can we best engage with the immediate local community alongside a wider global collective working in similar fields?’, we brain stormed the questions we had for our challenge setter, Carlota from Public Works which manages R-Urban. The interviewees practised the skills learned about rapport, engagement, silence and different kinds of questioning. We introduced ourselves and began by asking Carlota about her involvement with the project. Our following questions were semi structured around the following themes: Local Community, Resources, Projects, Ambitions, Organisations/Global community. Through this process, we recognised the controversy within such a project, highlighting the value and tension between history and progress; what should be conserved and how best to develop. The group members who did not interview collected very meaningful data about the local demographic finding the two major religions to be Christianity and Islam, with a high proportion of disabled, elderly and young residents, along with high levels of deprivation.

Splitting into two groups, we went into the field to undertake spatial analysis through photography, video and sound, along with informal interviews of local residents and businesses.

Interview One: Builders

Points: Hadn’t heard of R-urban. Suggested having a garden party or BBQ/music festival to introduce people to the space. Advising across Hackney Wick with flyers is what they believed was the norm to get people keen to participate in events. Lastly, engaging with local businesses could prove fruitful for greater footfall in the MGC.

Interview Two: Management at Hub67

Points: Despite being a part of LLDC and Yard Theatre, they too hadn’t heard of R-urban. Funded by LLDC, the aim of Hub67 is to create cohesion among the three communities: established, artists and new young professionals through yoga and mother and daughter activities as an example.

Interview Three: Florist Owner

Points: Despite commuting to work, the owner has lots of contact with the local community which she believes is too diverse to generalise upon. She did suggest the community is scattered and keep to themselves as a result of leading busy lives and are therefore less integrated. She saw the community as divided between home owners, renters and artists. Working in similar fields, she would be interested in the potential network and collaboration with the Mobile Garden City, and yet is not currently aware of its presence.

Interview Four: Elderly Resident

Points: Lived in Trowbridge Estate for 20 years. Too busy to be involved with R-urban/MGC but passionate about gardening. Believes young people aren’t interested in gardening and the majority of the elderly aren’t mobile enough to be able to engage. Noticed the area has changed over the course of Olympic development with greater noise and re-routed traffic.

We collated our research and impressions of the local community and shared our reflections on the day. What struck me is the lack of communication and outreach of programmes like Hub67 and R-urban/Mobile Garden City to the communities that are most affected and disadvantaged by the development. Overwhelmingly, I feel that funds have been given and infrastructure built that show bias towards the creative class. Through initiatives like R-urban and Hub67, that use art graduates and the like to create social cohesion, I can’t help but think, where are the other local communities? How are they being represented? How are their dreams, needs and challenges being voiced, or even addressed? Through this project, I hope we can begin to re-balance this bias.



(Un)Urban: Day 5 – “Hackney Wick and The Olympic Park”



We arrived at Stour Space, Fish Island and were given a contextual introduction to the surrounding area by IGP research associate Konrad Miciukiewicz. Konrad spoke of the Olympic park’s unique position as a centre for post-Olympic regeneration for Stratford and the 4 (6) growth boroughs. It became apparent that with Land controlled by the monarch and properties such as the East Village owned by “Qatari Diar” and other developers, the task of helping create a new community would be a challenge for all involved in the work of the LLDC. Currently less than half of the residents in the East Village originate from London postcodes and only half of that contingent lived in East London before moving there. At this stage, it is perhaps too early to judge whether the social legacy of the Olympic park will be one to celebrate as there is much more development that is still underway.




The day continued with a walk around Hackney Wick and then, through the grounds of the Olympic Park. Hackney Wick lies in the far east of the Borough of Hackney and in its post-industrial era has recently become a hub for artists who have taken advantage of the space left over after years of economic decline. There were, however, hints at the existing divisions between working class East-Londoners and the new artistic community. There were a number of these signs such as graffiti stating “Hipsters Out” although it’s possible that the so-called hipsters  are the ones holding the spray-cans. None-the less it was clear that area was becoming more vibrant and diverse, living up to its reputation.




Finally, we visited the complex that was to be the focus of our group challenge. R-Urban Wick is situated at the foot of a sea of semi-high-rise developments which at first glance looked almost out of place in its rapidly developing surroundings; after being shown around the garden by the R-Urban team they informed us about participation in the community garden and how the project was being built around the combination of individual stories and personalities to create a centre inspiring community cohesion between different groups of peoples.


WOW – No Bad Ideas?

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Day 3 kicked off like all the others; with lectures filled with students trying to bounce back from last night’s mistakes, their struggle given away by the fact that there are more take-away coffee cups than people.

The excitement and energy of our first speaker, Judy Ling Wong, was way more effective. Her campaign to make London the world’s first National Park City made me think about how different labels impact on the way we treat our urban spaces and how they can affect us in turn. In particular, how we share these spaces and spend time in them – “linger” was the key word.

This idea of sharing the spaces was backed up by the following lecture on ethnicity and diversity, delivered by Dr Nikolay Mintchev. The bad news was how high levels of diversity are usually linked with a lower level of safety and confidence; however London was, as always, the exception. It seemed that as diversity reached a tipping point, no one group was able to dominate. By no longer having a single, exclusive community who would seem to be the “owners” of the space, a much wider group felt at home within the space.

This idea of safety and belonging is key to the social responsibility of public spaces. Dr Tim Waterman took us back in time, allowing us to see how spaces such as Oxford Circus have changed over time. I felt that the most valuable point of his lecture was how inclusion in a space allows a group to value and protect it. The complications of gentrification, and how attempts to improve community spaces can alienate the community, illustrated flaws in our systems for urban regeneration and the difficulties that local councils face.

In the afternoon we finished off our crash course in Human Centred Design. I rediscovered my pipecleaner skills; unexpected high fashion skills emerged in the prototyping of an Umbrella Helmet.


The day before we really committed to the philosophy of no bad ideas in the pursuit of improving the commute of our avatar Rocky; at this point we had to realise that they were mainly crap. However we stuck with the spirit and brain stormed wow. Since you can’t really prototype the prime solutions of living in a bin, or becoming less poor, we eventually  designed and prototyped a brand new idea. This masterpiece was the Basket Bag Bike. Transforming from a bike fully in a box; into a bike partially into a box.

Some of the other groups had legitimate ideas; in particular 2by2, an app using communities volunteers to improve pedestrian safety in dark, dangerous areas such as Finsbury Park, showed great promise.

Once it came to the roleplaying, we all bloomed like the wonderful butterflies that we are and poured our hearts into the presentations. It was great to see the passion that was developed in just a few hours, and how deeply people imagined the lives of their avatars.

Hopefully the next few days will continue to involve spaghetti construction.




Group 1: Approaching the challenge

We started the day with an inspiring panel discussion on green urban initiatives. The first speaker Joyce Veheary talked about her Lend and Tent project, then we listened to two representatives from the Mobile Garden and finally Gary Grant focused on the importance of urban greenery. After that, we were given a challenge from R-Urban Mobile Garden City, which we then discussed in groups and reported back to the panelists for some feedbacks.

In the afternoon, we focused on interview research methods and learn how successfully conduct interviews, which will be essential when we start the real challenge next week. We learned about different types of questions, to plan our research and make a discussion guide. All these elements will be needed when approaching people from the organisations and the local community. Lastly, each group gathered together to give its preference between the challenges that were offered.

We have now the theoretical and practical tools to start approaching our challenge. It is amazing how much we all learned in only four days and I think the enthusiasm of everyone has progressively grown. Why? I believe it’s because we all suddenly realised that with this program we can actually bring about some important and positive change. We all realised that if we gather together, we can be successful and come up with some precious ideas. It doesn’t matter how big they are. What matters is that by the end of next week we will all have had an active role in our society and this is what being a global citizen means.

(Un) Urban day 4 – Green urban initiatives & Interview skills for research

The day started with a panel discussion with four speakers about green urban initiatives. The first was Joyce Veheary who talked about her Lend & Tend project., two representatives from the mobile garden city project and finally Gary Grant talked about the importance of urban greenery. Followed by a group challenge.

What I also found inspiring was theme of finding green spaces within in the city in a directly participatory and fast way. Instead of tearing down houses they worked with using existing environment and lead their projects by le people initiatives rather than just top-down political manner. It shows how much impact people can have and that urban greenery can be everywhere and anywhere as long as people are willing.

I also enjoyed about learning the benefits of gardening and green initiatives. I learnt that gardening could be a tool to build relationships from individual level in the Lend & tend project to the whole community as with the mobile garden city. That increased greenery also benefits the whole of society supporting biodiversity and lowering energy consumption by cooling down houses when placed on exterior roofs or walls of buildings. Ultimately, that green initiatives can benefit people’s wellbeing socially, mentally and environmentally.

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In the afternoon we learnt skills of social research method, for example how to approach people with questions in interview situation and how to get the most rich information and useful knowledge from questions. Methods included making people comfortable by engaging in small talk, perhaps having tea with them or ask them about their journey to get there. That we should be respectful and observant, e.g. if they take of their shoes off in their home you should do that to. We also learnt how to actually formulate the question in the best way. Some questions needed a direct approach. They are too big and therefore needed guidance too not give a too general answer. Whilst other questions should be more indirect, deliberately left a bit up for interpretation to learn more in depth about interviewee’s opinions. We practiced interviewing each other and how to lead the interview to get information about the topics we wanted to address by    using a list of questions to follow-up, structure.

We also received our maps and choose what challenge we preferred today. The challenge about helping Wick Award and Big Local Hackney Wick to facilitate positive connections between long-established communities and residents moving into Hackney Wick was the most popular and everyone that was present from our group today were very enthusiastic about it This was a very practical and skill based day, and I feel both more confident and ready  for the tasks but most of all really excited about the challenge and our week ahead!

Group 1: (Un)Urban Day 3 – Human-Centred Design Ⅱ

We continued with human-centred design in the afternoon. Reviewed the concepts and process of human-centred design, we also retrieved and rethought the personas and his/her needs. More ideas are added under different categories, which diverges the prospect our product. Further thinking towards our ideas identified a particular direction for final design or sought the common characteristics of ideas and merged them into one. The second phase of human-centred design about ideation is roughly completed.

As the the name suggested, this kind of design process is all about individuals’ desire. Thus, we expanded our recognition of  personas to their daily routine and how could they possibly use the design, which is an opportunity to justify the feasibility of our design. So we moved on to the prototyping stage. Trying to visualise  imaginations and turn them into reality, we  adapted various means to build the prototype. Technology is, obviously, a hot spot. My team designed an app for taxi derivers, whose main challenge is to grasp firm knowledge about London, especially  about road condition. We thought about what functions taxi drivers might need and consider how to build those functions into the app. And the prototype includes users interface of this app called Taxivers. Other teams also have some splendid prototypes like oyster cards with screen at the back updating the transportation information for senior citizens, specially- designed bike for maternity parents to accommodate their children when commuting and smart watch giving direction based on the current location and voice control. We then presented our prototype to other groups.

During those two days, we had a complete cycle of human-centred designed. The desire and needs  of people should drive and dominate the design. However, we didn’t interview or talk to our clients/ target groups, by which means we might lose some possibility of diverging wild ideas. Now it comes to the last stage of design. What shall we do next to further develop our ideas? Iterate, iterate, iterate…