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Southbank Centre Festival Village gets public airing

— August 2012

Associated media

Some of the volunteers relax with a drink in the Southbank Village, under the Queen Elizabeth Hall

Cassone has been privileged to get a glimpse inside the new Festival Village at London’s Southbank arts complex and soon the public will be able to see it too. Although the space is to be used primarily by visiting artists it will be open to the public from 31 August to 9  September. This coincides with the Southbank Centre’s ‘Unlimited’ festival, which celebrates the work of deaf and disabled artists and is a  London 2012 Cultural Olympiad event.

A storage area on the ground floor of the Queen Elizabeth Hall has been transformed by over 200 volunteers working under the guiding hands of Andrew Lock of LYN Atelier and Oliver Marlow of TILT. A key feature was that the volunteers were involved in the design as well as providing much of the physical labour to realize the project.

The idea was to create a space where artists coming to London from all parts of the world can meet each other and relax. A café, bar and exhibition space are all included, as well as spaces in which artists can simply hang out and talk – perhaps sitting in one of the wheelbarrows that have been converted into seats.

Festival Village uses around 10,000 square feet of space that was previously underused as storage. About five tonnes of recycle materials were used, some sourced through social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, which also allowed volunteers to contact each other easily.

Working with the Southbank Centre’s in-house teams, LYN and TILT put out an open call to London’s creative community and beyond, encouraging them to get involved in designing and building the Festival Village.

Over a four-month period 200 members of the public participated in creating the Festival Village. They came from all sorts of backgrounds including architecture, design and construction, but many came simply because they wanted to try something new.

Oliver Marlow of TILT said:

Involving people in the co-design and co-making of a space has a transformational effect both on those participating and on the quality and impact of the final space.

Andrew Lock, Partner at LYN Atelier added:

We wanted to create a community that would bring spontaneity, diversity and richness to the project and to the festival.

For Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, Jude Kelly, the Festival Village is:

a demonstration of the power of what can be achieved when people join forces to work together to create something new.

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