Urban Education Live Research Symposium hosted at SSoA / 27-30th January 2020

The Sheffield team were very fortunate to host Urban Education Live research partners from Bucharest, Ljubljana and Tampere in late January 2020 – before travel restrictions came into force worldwide due to Covid-19 pandemic.

During the 4-day Symposium, we took our guests on a walking tour, we invited them to talk about their work to research students and academic colleagues at SSoA, we all took part in a workshop with MArch students from Carolyn Butterworth’s Studio in Residence, and to wrap up we spent a full day discussing our individual progress and views on final outcomes as the UEL research approaches its end this year.

On the first day we set off on a walking tour led by artist Steve Pool. Our guests had a chance to see the more hidden gems of Sheffield city centre, taste the excellent cuisine and experience the buzz of Spital Hill and Burngreave, which is the UEL:SHEF focal research area for collaboration with community groups through the use of local hubs. The journey began at Live Works on the Moor in town centre, roughly following the ‘Sheffield Steel Route’ through the Moor up to Peace Gardens, Winter Gardens, Ruskin collection at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield Institute of Art, Castlegate, Exchange Place Studios at Yorkshire Artspace, River Don Five Weirs walkway, Wicker and Spital Hill, where we stopped for a mouth-watering lunch at Nergiz restaurant. After a walk through Burngreave, a heartwarming welcome was waiting for us at the hub of one of our local research partners, Pitsmoor Adventure Playground by the dedicated playworkers and their lovely head man Patrick Meleady. We are very grateful to Pitsmoor Adventure Playground for taking time to show us around the playground, talk about their work and keep us warm sitting by the fire having tea and scones. Such a warm welcome to our international research partners!

UEL Partners at Pitsmoor Adventure Playground

After the walk, UEL partners were invited to share their work with other guest speakers, postgraduate students, academic staff and our Sheffield-based Advisory Board members. Research seminar ‘The Local Hub: a place for mutual learning between University and City’ was aimed at exploring how ‘local hubs’, i.e. physical spaces in the city and outside the University, can become sites for mutual learning between communities, academics and students. UEL partners and invited speakers Doina Petrescu (SSoA), Claire Tymon (Placeshakers), and Tom Moore (doctoral researcher at SSoA) presented their work from Sheffield, Blackburn, Paris, Ljubljana, Tampere and Bucharest, inviting discussion on how local hubs can act as a highly responsive mechanism to foster new dialogues, new collaborations and, ultimately, new modes of urban production.

We also joined UEL Sheffield’s team PI Carolyn Butterworth and her students at MArch Studio in Residence for a morning workshop at Live Works. Students were paired with partners from UEL, to place the student projects on the Real-Abstract and Speculative-Deliverable axes. The discussion triggered intriguing reflections on how students think about their own work and how projects are perceived by others, coming from other countries and various backgrounds. UEL:SHEF is closely integrated with SSoA’s live pedagogy – through Live Projects and Live Studios we are supporting students as they collaborate with community groups. In 2018-19 this has occurred through the People’s Kitchen Pitsmoor Live Project and MArch Studio in Residence. Masters students are acting as co-researchers, interviewing local people and producing real and speculative design proposals for the Steel Route, connecting the deprived neighbourhood of Pitsmoor/Burngreave with the city centre. Through pop-up exhibitions and creative engagement events the students are opening up conversations about how the University in general, and the School of Architecture in particular, can most effectively help local communities.

The final day was dedicated to the UEL project meeting, where the partners talked about their individual work updates and discussed plans for the rest of the project. The meeting was held at Live Works, where the team met with team Aalfy, the social enterprise with whom we share the space 108 the Moor. Directors Zak Ahmed and Angga Kara introduced their work, and one of their graduates from their Learn Create Sell initiative, a programme helping unemployed youth to learn new making skills and develop their own products and business ideas, shared his experience.

Urban Education Live Research Symposium 2020 in Sheffield