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Public Workshop and Build-it! (Disks)

Alex Gilliam (an architect and K-12 Education expert) is the man behind 'Public Workshop' - 'a cheerleader of possibility' an organisation dedicated to helping individuals, schools and communities achieve collaborative design for positive social change.

Challenging, and redefining boundaries, Public Workshop through its many projects developing and leading participatory community design processes (Hester Street Collaborative, redesign of Sunshine School) seeks to approach a new way of thinking about designing architectural environments for children and young people.

Thorugh working with young people, Gilliam realised that there was perhaps a problem with the way we thought or learnt about architecture - the sequential process of learning first how to draw a line before you can put something together.

This led him to conduct experiments, including "tapping" into people's emotional reactions of buildings and public spaces, where he learnt that "the average person knows a lot more about architecture than we think they do" and that it can lead to more "meaningful conversations" and getting the "average person much more engaged in the design process..."

Some of Public Workshops projects.

A key aspect to Gilliams participatory approach is that it is multi-generational i.e. young children are paired with adults to conduct the same task - therefore both having equal opportunity to contribute something of value, and therefore giving them a sense of meaning and ownership of their places.

One project Gilliam developed was Build-It! be a building hero - a system of 'building disks' enabling kids and the wider community to create their own unique structural playspaces.

Each (recycled and recyclable) cardboard disk with its multiple slots enables for endless possibilities for transforming playgrounds, vacant lots, classrooms, your back-yard... And you can purchase them here.

Here are the disks in action! A trial run held at the National Building Museum's Great Hall - kids and adults alike collaborate to create a playground, climbing, hiding, imagining, whilst honing their skills in design and construction.

Via Public Workshop, Contour and KaBoom.


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