Edmiston Jones has been challenged by the question, “can social issues be resolved by the design of the urban environment?”. We engage with the community at many levels and I represented the firm in a neighbourhood brainstorming, co-design workshop in October. The Bellambi Neighbourhood Centre was our venue for the day. With more than 100 participants representing over 30 community groups, businesses, schools, housing providers, local government and health organisations we explored small-scale projects that would start to transform the suburb within the next 6 to 18 months.
The Bellambi community is being supported by The Collective NSW to develop and implement realistic, social and physical rejuvenation projects that can start immediately. The Collective’s primary vision is to protect the most vulnerable and break the cycle of disadvantage through community collaboration and participation.
The Collective is there to facilitate a community based, ground up, holistic consultation process to identify the priorities for change. The Collective brings together local community groups, individuals, business, government, NGOs, academics and specialist consultants such as architects to create a shared vision.
In addition to the October workshop, consultation has been facilitated using social media including Twitter handles (#AIM2015), the website, safety and security walks with the police, walkabouts to ‘meet your NGO’ as well as smaller workshops with schools, Aboriginal communities and social housing residents.
Tasks earmarked for immediate action include:
On the 15th December I will be involved in the final neighbourhood workshop that will prioritise and assign projects to volunteer working groups. Sharing in the Bellambi consultation process has got me asking, “how can architects best work with the community?” The experience has shown me that it takes more than a well designed built environment to solve social issues and underlines Edmiston Jones’ mantra that “the solution is not always a building”.