social inclusion brick council

This project was a collaboration between Fivos Avgerinos, Nick Banning, Ludovica Galletta, Bahar Kaplan, Carla Schleicher and myself.

SIBC Website

The Social Inclusion Brick Council is a proposal that hopes to help encourage public participation in urban planning. It utilizes workshops to help foster conversations about the future of built environment in any given place. We believe that public participation is an integral part of successful urban planning.

The inspiration for the design of this workshop began as an exloration into the brick making industry of Rhyl’s past. The industry was once a thriving set of businesses, with multiple clay ponds. The clay was harvested in Rhyl with brickwork factories on site. During this time, Rhyl’s golden coast beach began to spark the interest of many tourists. Soon, the tourist industry was bustling in Rhyl and overtime it took precedent over the brickworks industry, leaving many of the factories and clay ponds abandoned or demolished. Today, Rhyl has been named one of the worst places in the UK to live. People’s ability to find cheap flights to travel to many different holiday destinations has left Rhyl struggling to keep afloat. The town received over 22 million pounds to help fund their regeneration form the EU. With many buildings being knocked down and new buildings and businesses being created, we believe better engagement with the public for these future structures will foster a better relationship with the council. Creating a more positive outlook on Rhyl from its inhabitants with a multitude possible benefits such as, job creation, mental health improvement, population retention and many others.

During our research phase of this project, it was evident that the people of Rhyl felt disengaged from the future of their town. We used multiple forms of research to help shape and form our proposal, in hopes of creating an experience that was able to bring to light unique insights, thoughts and concerns about the built environment. In 1958, Henry A. Landsberger coined the phrase “Hawthorne Effect”. Elton Mayo conducted research a the Western Electric’s factory at Hawthorne in the late 1920s to early 1930s. The experiment was done with two groups of people working in two separate work areas. In one work area the lighting was improved and in the other work area, the lightning stayed the same. In the area that the lightning was improved, there were a series of dramatic changes in the productivity of the workers. Even when the lights returned to the way it was before, productivity still improved. It was said that this increase in productivity was due to the opportunities it gave the workers to discuss changes occurring in their workplace before they occurred. They were a part of the decision-making process and that helped them feel better and more connected to the outcome. We believe this to be an integral lesson that can be applied to urban planning. Especially when thinking about the possible benefits of creating a system that takes the public’s opinions more seriously in urban planning.

The Workshop

The workshop we held a workshop over the course of two days in Rhyl, where we experimented with our workshop before refining it and preparing it for our first pilot project at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.  During our two day workshop sessions we made over 12 bricks with the community of Rhyl, as we spoke to them about the past, present and future of Rhyl.
Royal Alexandra Hospital We are currently in the process of planning our workshop to be run in Rhyl, where we are working with the redevelopment and expansion of Rhyl’s Royal Alexandra Hospital. To help them gain insight and have our bricks be apart of the structure. To find out more about how that is going please refer to our policy report, here.

The Toolkit

In the kit:
• Wooden SIBC Mould
• Wire clay cutters
• Rubber bands
• Clay
• SIBC Policy Report Manual

The Toolkit gives members of the community the ability to participate in the urban planning that is happening around them. We chose bricks because of their cultural significance to the UK and also because of their physical properties as a building material. The purpose of our workshop is to gain insight through making and asking pointed questions from a cross section of said community. This process allows people the ability to dream bigger and really think more critically about their answers, needs and wants. All the bricks we create are then placed in the buildings that the workshop is focused on and the information we learn is transcribed and recorded in a report and via video and shared with the delvopera council members etc.
If you would like to read more about our process and how to run your own workshop please refer to our webiste or policy report,  here .

“… So everything we did, we brought the community with us. As you probably know, if you’re involved with something. Then, you feel part of it. You look after it.”
-Garry Davies, a Countryside Officer, Denbighshire Countryside Service

The Bricks

The bricks below are images are some of the participants with their bricks. We are currently in the process of planning to redo the workshop in Rhyl at a larger scale with the help of Rhyl’s MP Chris Davies. The bricks will also be displayed at an exhibition happening in Wales later this year. This project continues to be ongoing.