The Festival Village is a multi-layered collaboratively created social space for artists from across the world, which includes a café, bar, library, exhibition and performance space.
The space, under the Queen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank Centre, was designed and built using a unique codesign and comake process over a 4 month period, involving over 200 volunteers from around London. The Festival Village forms part of Southbank Centre’s ‘Festival of the World’ with MasterCard, a summer long festival including inspirational arts projects from the UK and around the world.
The brief for the Festival Village was to create an inspiring and multi-layered space where all those taking part in the Festival of the World – from world-renowned international artists to local volunteers – would feel at home, Andrew Lock, Partner at LYN Atelier says, ‘In keeping with Southbank Centre’s festival it seemed absolutely appropriate to propose a participatory delivery process. We wanted to create a community that would bring spontaneity, diversity and richness to the project and to the festival’.
Working with the Southbank Centre’s in-house teams, LYN and TILT put an open call out to London’s creative community and beyond, encouraging them to get involved in designing and building the Festival Village. Throughout the entire project, over 200 members of the public participated in the design and making of the Festival Village. They came from all sorts of backgrounds including architecture, design and construction, but many came simply because they wanted to try something new.
Oliver Marlow of Studio TILT says: “Involving people in the codesign and comaking of a space has a transformational effect both on those participating but also on the quality and impact of the final space. The Festival Village proves that bringing together a community to conceive and deliver a space is not only practical but hugely rewarding, and it points towards the future of how public spaces should be designed and delivered.”
The Festival Village also created its own Facebook and Twitter accounts that became a popular place for the volunteer community to stay in touch with the project. Social media was also used to help source materials including wood, paint, bricks and shelving. Overall, 5-6 tons of recycled materials were saved from landfill and used for the project, including 2 tons of materials salvaged from the existing Festival Village site. The final look and feel of the Festival village is borne out of the participatory process, providing an honest, innovative, and inspiring aesthetic. Upcycled, recycled and repurposed materials were all used. For example visitors can sit in chairs made from wheelbarrows and under light fittings made from kitchen utensils and bottles. The participatory build process has given the space an energy and spontaneity that is empowering not only to the volunteers but also to visitors of the space.
The project has won several awards including the FX award for best Public Space Scheme in 2012.
Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, says: ‘Southbank Centre’s Festival Village sits appropriately at the heart of our Festival of the World and demonstrates the power of what can be achieved when people join forces to work together to create something new.’