Year | 2021
Location | Camden, London, UK
Clients | Camden Council

The Camley Street live project team has been working with Camden Council to visualise the future potential of Camley Street, through a series of co-design workshops with the local community.

Camley Street is located in the London Borough of Camden and is part of a long term regeneration plan for the area – the CIP (Community Investment Programme) which plans to invest over 1 billion pounds in new homes, schools, and community spaces. The brief involved exploring both long and short term interventions to improve the area, which could run alongside the CIP. The team decided to focus the project on the Camley Street underpass which is one of the main connections to Kings Cross for local residents and is currently felt to be unsafe and uninviting.

Inspired by the precedent ‘Happy Street’ by Yinka Llori the concept was to re-active the neglected underpass using colour and pattern. The hope is that this would encourage more people to use it as a route, leading to a decrease in antisocial behaviour. In order to engage the community in the co-design of this space, the team ran a series of creative workshops with local youth groups – the Maiden Lane Community Centre and the National Citizen Service. Workshop activities included paper collages at a range of scales and ceramic tile painting. Participants were encouraged to think of designs that would bring more joy and a friendlier journey through the underpass.

To ensure that the work remains useful beyond the 6 weeks of the project, the team created a toolkit as a guide for other workshop facilitators. This offers advice on how the workshops can be adapted for different participant groups or other co-design projects in the neighbourhood. The toolkit also looks forward, reflecting on how the permanent Camley Street Team can move from a ‘co-design’ process to a ‘co-production’ project, where participants are given greater agency to take greater control over the direction and management of the project.

The designs produced during the workshops have been collated into a design library – available as a pdf, website, and Instagram account so that it is accessible for a diverse audience. It exists as a growing resource so that participants’ work can continue to influence the future of Camley Street and the surrounding neighbourhood in its life beyond the workshop. It is hoped that it will be utilised by both the council and other designers who appreciate the value of co-design and that participants will feel a sense of pride and joy in seeing their work in a community design catalogue.

During the project, the team engaged with stakeholders who could be involved in the project in the future. One of these is Betong Park, a company specialising in skate park design with an active interest in the area. Future Camley street workshops could broaden the scope beyond the tiling of the underpasses walls, such as using a second disused underpass arch for interventions such as vendor trucks or a skatepark.

Overall the project aims were to encourage people to develop an awareness of their surroundings in order to facilitate opportunities for co-design. Allowing communities to engage can empower residents, help create more inclusive environments, and bring more joy to a neighbourhood.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/camleystreetdesignlibrary/

Project Website: https://camleystreetdesigns.cargo.site/

Credits:

Mentor: Nicola Antaki
Client: Camden Council
Location: Camden, London, UK
Students: George Appleby, Jana Dardouk, Jiawei Wang, Andrei Calin Ion, Jiaqi Xu, Linjian Wan, Zhengnan Ye, Freya Hufton, Matthew Feetham, Rachael Cowan, Callum McLaughlin, Shunshun Zhang, Yuzhu Miao

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