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Open Access Somerstown Stories and the benefits of using a design charette for community engagement

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Somerstown Stories was a local heritage project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, collaborating initially with Somers Park Primary School in Somerstown, within the City of Portsmouth. The aim of the project was to enable people to reconnect with their locality by exploring local history. In addition, the project explored the question: does knowing more about where you live change how you feel about living there? At the time of the project, the area of Somerstown was at the beginning of a process of phased redevelopment, so it was timely for local groups and organizations as a whole to look back at their history and the shaping of the area, in order to prepare to look forward and plan for the future. As part of the larger Somerstown Stories project, the University of Portsmouth School of Architecture was invited to coordinate a design charette for Year 9 students from the local Charter Academy School. This paper explores the nature of the charette, and its value in engaging different stakeholders. The paper is written using commentaries, conclusions and reflections from the key people involved with this project, including Canon Nick Ralph from the Diocese of Portsmouth; Sharon Court, Creative Practitioner and Project Manager for the Somerstown Stories project; Martin Andrews, Architect and Principal Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth School of Architecture; and Andrew Joyce, a University of Portsmouth student at the time of the design charette and now a registered architect working at ArchitecturePLB in Winchester.
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Keywords: ARCHITECTURE; CHARETTE; CREATIVITY; ENGAGED; LEARNING; LOCAL RESIDENTS; REFLECTIVE PRACTICE; STUDENT ENGAGEMENT; URBAN

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2018

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  • Engagement with research goes further than participation in it. Engaged individuals and communities initiate research, advise, challenge or collaborate with researchers. Their involvement is always active and they have a crucial influence on the conduct of the research.

    Research for All is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on research that involves universities and communities, services or industries working together. Contributors and readers are from both inside and outside of higher education. They include researchers, policymakers, managers, practitioners, community-based organizations, schools, businesses and the intermediaries who bring these people together. The journal highlights the potential in active public engagement for robust academic study, for the development of involved communities, and for the impact of research. It explores engagement with different groups and their cultures, and features theoretical and empirical analysis alongside authoritative commentary to explore a range of themes that are key to engaged research including the development of reciprocal relationships, sector-specific communication and participatory action research. The journal is co-sponsored by the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

    The journal welcomes relevant articles. See the publication homepage for details, or contact [email protected]

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