BARKING RIVERSIDE: Creative engagement, public realm co-design, social innovation
Barking Riverside is one of the largest brownfield developments in Europe. Sandwiched between the A13, the River Thames and a sewage plant in a somewhat forgotten corner of East London Barking Riverside Ltd will oversee the building of thousands of new homes, offices, shops and schools during the next decade. This huge development will sit alongside several isolated estates, the largest being Thames View, and will have a huge impact on the lives of local residents.
Working with make:good, we are engaging with local schools, youth clubs, community groups and citizens to ensure the new development reflects those who already live nearby and serves them as a community as much as those moving to the area.
We are focusing on collaborative decision making for various aspects of the development, as well as increasing local awareness of the greatest asset in the area - a freely accessible two mile strip of wilderness along the Thames.
The project has initially focused on creative storytelling - gathering thoughts, memories and experiences from local people. We are documenting this insight through the use of film, installations and publications to help provide a tangible platform for public feeling in the local area. It has moved on to co-designing and building interventions to help solve the most pertinent challenges (see other projects tagged ‘Barking Riverside’).
We have engaged with over 500 local residents and locals at schools, youth clubs, shops and businesses, the local mosque and church, local forums and groups and through other bodies operating in the area such as Living Streets, the Young Foundation and the London Wildlife Trust.
Catherine from make:good chat’s to locals next to the Viewtube
We are starting to build interest using a live video feed of the Thames riverbank projected into a shop window on the estate. The sights and sounds of the river are therefore brought into people’s everyday lives, and it has already generated a great deal of interest. We will soon be asking locals to text in pictures of their favourite/worst places in the area, a selection of which will be exhibited on the view tube.
Craig, a young person on Thames View who has been a big part of the project
As part of our initial engagement work on the estate we have acquired a popcorn cart, and are touring the local streets offering free popcorn in exchange for a thought about the area (which is filled in on the box and photographed). This has proved to be an unmitigated success, particularly regarding the cross section of people we have met. It seems regardless of age, race or gender, people like to talk over popcorn!
We have now been working in Barking for nearly a year, with another 10 months to go. Please type the tag ‘Barking Riverside’ in the search box to see all of the related posts.
Local kids mapping out the area as they understand it at the Easter Egg hunt
Co-building the world record breaking bee hotel
Bee hotel flyer