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Au’Guest’ Blog post – ‘Common Room’ comes to Brighton

Written by Ivan Tennant, from Plan Projects as part of the Wired Sussex guest blog month

In June, Plan Projects won the Lively Cities (LiCi) competition to deliver a pilot project designed to explore ideas for how to transform Providence Place Gardens from its present condition as a unwelcoming, poorly used space, used predominantly by street drinkers, to one that is valued by the community.

Our approach, called ‘Common Room,’ has been not only to address the environmental factors within the space, creating a greater sense of access and legibility, but also look at but the wider socio- economic issues. Essentially, we wanted a greater number of economically and socially active people to gravitate towards the space and make it their own, this way the dominance of the street community would be diluted.

From our research we know digitally literate people are more likely to be educated, employed and leading an active life. So we came up with the idea of delivering a piece of ‘digital place-making,’ working with the local company Metranet to integrate state of the art digital infrastructure into the site. We anticipate this will broaden its appeal, leading to a variety of digitally enabled work, study, social and recreational uses.

The equipment supplied by Metranet will mean that hundreds of smart phone users will be able to use their devices simultaneously on site. Also, a landing page will give users access to information about ‘Common Room’ and events we’ll be running during the pilot. Critically, it will also allow people to express ideas and opinions about the project and table ideas that could contribute to the regeneration of the whole area.

Following our appointment, Wired Sussex have been helping us make contact with the key players in the digital world in Brighton. An important part of our mission is to overcome e-exclusion; we have therefore invited City Camp Brighton to deliver a programme of e-learning, using ‘Common Room’ as a venue during the pilot.

As the pilot approaches (it will be held between 1-14th October), students at City College will be invited to collaborate with Metranet in the development of the landing page, something we hope will encourage them to see Providence Place Gardens at their own outside common room, to study, share ideas and meet up with friends.  See image for the Providence Place Proposal:

As a result of these efforts, we hope ‘Common Room’ will demonstrate the effectiveness of digital technology as a tool for broadening the range of uses to which public spaces can be put, thus promoting their value within communities and, in turn, finding a new and invigorated role within the multifaceted business of urban regeneration.

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