Storytelling for development

Storytelling for development

The starting point for the project is a challenge and opportunity related to participatory design of the built environment. In a recent report on architecture and planning in the UK, current design processes were criticised for not being participatory enough in representing the needs and aspirations of local residents, or respecting the history and cultural heritage of areas subject to re-development (Farrell Review 2013). Amongst the recommendations of this report were suggestions to take a more holistic view of places and their identities, to achieve a new level of proactive public engagement in planning, and to draw on knowledge of the past in planning for the future (op cit). A specific opportunity to implement some of these suggestions already exists in the form of the Localism Act of 2011, which empowers communities to create neighbourhood plans for the development of their areas (DCLG 2010). However, findings on the uptake of these powers indicate some reluctance of communities to engage with the initiative and a conservative approach to planning which fails to meet government targets for housing and economic growth (Gallent 2013). Essentially, new methods of pro-active community engagement are needed.

Community radio and TV have been used for many years, to empower communities around the world to take more initiative in their own development. In our own prior work we have used mobile digital storytelling to provide a narrative film library to a rural community in India (Frohlich et al 2007). In two further Digital Economy projects we scaled up this approach within South Africa and Preston UK, to support audio-visual community journalism for development. In South Africa we developed the Com-Me open source toolkit for community media sharing, and in Preston we developed an ‘insight journalism’ methodology for applying this to local innovation (Frohlich et al 2009 – EP/E006698/1, Blum-Ross et al 2012 – EP/H007296/1). Following other initiatives in Australia and Italy (Foth et al 2007, Galbiati et al 2010), we would now like to apply our storytelling technology and approach to local urban design. The approach also extends several other projects within the Communities and Culture Network+ and would benefit from their findings and input. These include Plugin narratives, New knowledge networks in communities, Cultural heritage and built environment, Hyperlocal government engagement online, Screen cultures, Trajectories to community engagement, Public engagement and cultures of expertise.

(Frolich, Case for Support)




Key Participants

Professor David Frohlich (PI) David is Director of Digital World Research Centre at the University of Surrey and Professor of Interaction Design. His background is in social science, media design and innovation, and he has combined these activities in both industrial and academic contexts. He is one of the few scholars to have tracked the uptake of digital photography since its inception, and has promoted a new practice of ‘audiophotography’ through research prototypes, novel content, patents and exhibitions. His recent work has explored the use of community media for development, in large multidisciplinary projects such as Storybank, Community-Generated Media and the £1m Bespoke project within the Digital Economy Programme.

Mrs Jocelyn Spence (RA) Jocelyn has recently submitted her PhD thesis at the University of Surrey. This was co-supervised by David Frohlich and Stuart Andrews. Jocelyn’s research explores the live performance of autobiography using digital media. Her work is positioned at the intersection of three disciplines: performance studies, human-computer interaction, and digital storytelling. She has mapped out a new field of research, Performative Experience Design, that extends digital storytelling into the artistic practices of creating intermedial performance in specific community contexts.

Tom Barrett (Local Government partner) Tom is Strategy Manager at London Borough of Lambeth working on making Lambeth a truly cooperative borough. His particular interests lie in social innovation, localism, transparency and accountability. His work enables the Council to have a genuine future focus, providing high level policy and strategic advice and ensuring that equality is absolutely central to all policy development.

John Letherland (Company partner) John studied architecture in Manchester and in 1980 joined Farrells, where he is now a Partner. Focus on context and on the spaces between buildings, rather than on buildings as ‘objects’, has always been the foundation stone of his work. John leads Farrells Urban Design Group, and recent work includes the development of design frameworks for the Thames Gateway, Old Oak Common, Vauxhall Cross and the Isle of Dogs, and master plans for Croydon Alliance Whitgift, Earls Court, Nine Elms, White City, Mount Pleasant, Bishopsgate Goods Yard, the Greenwich Peninsula and Folkestone Seafront, along with new eco-based urban extensions to Bicester and Wallingford. The recent urban design work of the practice was showcased in the Architectural Review and in ‘Shaping London’ published in 2010.

Professor Marialena Nikolopoulou (Advisor and Network liaison) Marialena is Professor of Sustainable Architecture at the University of Kent. Her expertise lies in environmental design with prominent focus on outdoor space and emphasis on people and their interaction with their environment; including physical environment, sensory awareness and stimulation, streetscape. She has secured funding for interdisciplinary, collaborative research projects worth £5.5 million in the area of sustainability, use of open spaces and environmental quality, including perception of environmental stimuli, and interventions to encourage behavioural change.