Year | 2019
Location | Cuthbert Bank, Sheffield
Clients | South Yorkshire Housing Association 

This Live Project was a participation led process which set out to improve the facilities at Cuthbert Bank, a supported housing facility for homeless families which is part of South Yorkshire Housing Assosciation’s (SYHA) Live Well portfolio. From the outset we understood that key to the success of this project was maximum participation with the users of the facility: the residents (referred to as customers) and the supportive on site staff.

We adopted a methodology inspired by ASF-UK’s Change by Design programme which aims to engage marginalised people in the design process. We framed our participation activities, and the structure of our process, around four key stages: detect, dream, develop and define. “Detect” involved engaging customers through questionnaires which aimed to find out any issues users were experiencing site. The “Dream” stage encouraged users to consider there aspirations for the site. This involved the use of models and drawings to encourage customers to think spatially and mood boards which aimed to stimulate ideas. On site staff were engaged through semi-structured interviews and focus groups which were directed through the stages “detect” and then “dreaming”. The next stage aimed to involve customers and staff in the development of proposals in a real world simulation. A board game encouraged individuals to prioritise interventions through selecting game cards with ascribed costs, these costs were worked out through a feasibility exercise conducted with the client. Our final stage presenting a series of storyboards and VR of how we would intervene at Cuthbert Bank based on our findings so far, encouraging individuals to critique our proposals allowing us time to react. The results from our participation were collated into a Building Survey which was handed over to the client.

Our participation process resulted in a design proposal that had been heavily influenced by all of the site users. We categorised our proposal into three phases based on the client’s aspirations for immediate interventions, changes they could make within a year with funds they had available and also proposals that were more ambitious in nature that could be used to attract funding for Cuthbert Bank

Alongside us, the Live Well Live Project assessed SYHA’s Live Well portfolio. It was understood by both teams that their strategic overview would demonstrate how to bring the large catalogue of Live Well properties to a higher general standard. We felt that our process was able to build on their findings and reveal further information in site specific cases, therefore we developed a participation methodology handbook and toolkit which would empower SYHA to repeat this process at any of their homeless projects.

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