Edward Cann

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Pirate Utopias » Graduates » Edward Cann

Interfacing Communities

My project aims to redefine the way in which design for the community is commonly viewed and used. Following the general principles set out in my dissertation, rigorous and diverse on-the-ground research has provided a closer and more real understanding of ‘community’ and revealed some interesting social behaviours. The research confirmed my view that interactive design can achieve far more for social exchange and community spirit than is the case with generic public design as usually implemented by local authorities.

My approach was to work with two specific communities – BEDzed, the eco-town situated in Wallington, and its neighbouring local inhabitants. I discovered a significant sense of separation between the two, with strongly perceived boundaries and some rivalry, if not actual friction. By involving people in the research and development process, the reasons for conflict were identified and categorised.

The objective therefore became one of creating items for public use that would help bridge this gap and improve relationships between the two ‘sides’. The brief was set to design egalitarian facilities, easily accessible to all which, by engaging both communities in their use would bring people together and alter perceptions of each other. Thus testing my thesis; effective design of physical, communal objects can influence behaviours and attitudes, while still fulfilling aesthetic and functional requirements