On homelessness - Part 1
Social changes on the streets of Barcelona
The Some.where project aimed to develop communication means between people on the street and to provide meeting places where to discuss homelessness. The research project used tools of social and urban design to explore in the field of human relations, underlining the value of the urban environment and the contribution of people who are socially excluded.
The project started in 2015, in the city of Barcelona, with and for people living on the street. Since its inception, one of the main concerns of this social design project was referred to the way that our attention, behaviour and environmental appreciation are modified by the means of design tools and people’s experiences, including those socially excluded. 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 dealt with global community topics, stories of people of specific environments, and anyone's inner-self. The physical and graphical support of the interventions were implemented through a single, foldable, and portable device adjusted to each environment. Depending on the way the device was installed, different visual messages were deployed. Once the intervention was completed, the device 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 citizen rights and allowing experimentation with people, 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. This project may introduce people to an exercise of personal and emotional development, and (ultimately) to a transformation of everyday reality through small social changes.
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 of them are 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.
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 the rights and civil rights could be carried out. From there, the 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.
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. Further, the final presentation of the project 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 exhibited at the Barcelona Design Museum (2015), encouraging the social activism workshops organised by the FAD as the Wake Up Some.where activity. It was also exhibited at the Royal College of Arts, in London (2016) as a contribution to the TRADERS platform.