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On homelessness

Social changes on the streets of Barcelona

The Some.where project aimed to provide meeting places on the streets of Barcelona where to discuss homelessness as well as our most fundamentals rights and needs. These urban interventions and places for discussion were created through a foldable and portable artefact that shared different stories and topics. These latter were inspired by previous interviews done with homeless people as this design project aimed to be first and foremost collaborative and inclusive.

 

Research phase of the project through interviews with homeless people

The project started in 2015, in Barcelona, in collaboration with people socially excluded, homeless people living on the streets. The implemented methodology started with an interactive and ethnographic social analysis, by using participant observation methods all along the project's development. Six interviews were conveyed with people living on the streets and their insights allowed the creation of six ephemeral interventions in different public spaces of Barcelona. Each intervention shared stories, stimulated debate, animated activities and in some cases modified the public space. They were all made possible through the same foldable and portable artefact. Depending on how this latter was installed, different visual messages were deployed. Once the interventions were completed, the artefact was folded and the interaction between people faded.

 

Research topics of the interventions were created in an ongoing process of action-research, stimulating discussion on our rights and allowing interaction with passers-by in such a way that their reactions could feed a new intervention. Finally, the  project intended to imply that the action of an ephemeral intervention in the street may be the preface to a longer lasting action, this time, in the inner privacy of people who observed or participated in such interventions. This project may introduce them to an exercise of personal development, and ultimately to the process of social transformation.

The artefact structure and pieces designed with wood, cardboard and cork

The artefact in context before being used followed by images of its different combinations

Being designers, we can pay by giving ten percent of our crop of ideas and talents to the seventy-five percent of mankind in need.

Victor Papanek, Design for the real world (1983)

Prologue: Many different stories on the streets, Some more visible than others

In this first urban intervention, the aim was to bring together few residents of the Born neighbourhood around six stories of people living on the street's area. The visual and sound samples drew the the public's attention and encouraged a debate on how to give a voice to people socially excluded. Passers-by were also willing to visualise their thoughts through a drawing or a written word.

 

Interviews -
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Chapter 1: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity in the street, such a revolution

The urban intervention of Chapter 1 was presented in an excluded space of the Raval neighbourhood, trying to transform it into an including space, in a way that discussions of civil rights could be carried out. People who were interviewed mentioned their favourite space in the city and a currently prohibited activity that they would like to do there.

 

 

Chapter 2: The environment is drown up with our emotions

A video was produced for the urban intervention of Chapter 2. The video tells the relationship with the environment of six people living on the street and it was projected in a square in the Eixample neighbourhood, gathering the audience around the device. 

Chapter 3: What does "home" mean to you?

The urban intervention of Chapter 3 was performed in the Sarrià neighbourhood, under and around a small improvised shelter. This meeting point initiated a debate on the importance of having a home, and encouraged a critical discussion about the forced evictions that continually cause resentment on people.

Chapter 4: Education is a right. More books, more freedom!

The urban intervention of Chapter 4 consisted of a small book shop installed in a square in the Gràcia neighbourhood. The activity called for the universal right of a free education of quality, inviting adults and children to express themselves – through a drawing or a written sentence – about the value they give to a book. In the end, each person could bring the book of their choice, leaving their personal memory in exchange.

 

Chapter 5: We are the dream of our memory

The objective of the urban intervention of Chapter 5 was to bring together some residents of the Poble Nou neighbourhood around six memories and dreams of the six interviewees living on the street. The visuals and sounds attracted passers-by encouraging them to reflect on what they would like to see happening on the streets of Barcelona which is not currently happening.

 

Souvenirs and Dreams -
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Epilogue: Inspiration and hope move our mind and our heart towards our dream

The Epilogue explains the dynamic process of the previous interventions through a short video, intending to show the different possible combinations of the device in the public spaces of Barcelona. The project's final presentation seeks to initiate a wider debate on an educational methodology of critical conscience that 'listens, dialogues and acts' inventively (Freire 1968) within the conventional branches of the design discipline. The Some.where project was later exhibited at the Barcelona Design Museum (2015), encouraging social activist encounters through the Wake Up Some.where workshop. It was also exhibited at the Royal College of Arts, in London (2016) as a contribution to the TRADERS platform.

The question of what kind of city
we want cannot be divorced from
the question of what kind of people
we want to be.

David Harvey, Rebel Cities (2012)

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