Introduction to Community Project

This morning we arrived in class, ready to recieve our brief, outlining the requirements for our new Community Project. We will be working in teams of two to plan, manage and complete the task of designing a conceptual site plan for Maraenui’s shopping centre area and two empty sites across the road. Along the way, there will be a ‘greenlight presentation’ where each team will present our research which has led to the concept we wish to use throughout our design work. Lastly, our final designs shall be presented to the project lecturers and stake holders.

The project was established by local Labour MP, Stuart Nash and Jason Waihape who is a teacher and local figure from the area. They have approached EIT to request our help in talking with locals from Maraenui to ask what they feel their community needs and why. It is our goal to incorporate their needs into a design that will uplift the image, personal identity and reputation of the community, give residents a sense of pride and to know that they are cared for or have been heard.

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After some discussion on who our teams are (my team members are: Nasha, Jennica, Rita, Emma and myself) and where to begin, we have been told to come up with a team identity via a name and logo, establish some team rules and lay out our strengths and weaknesses to see how we can help our team throughout the project.

In terms of kicking the project off, Mandy explained that we need to start thinking about getting to know the community first; the place and the people. This can be achieved through interviews which we will be conducting through a couple of ‘site visits’, collating quantitative research such as site measurements and stats about the area ( who lives there, who uses what and when etc.) and qualitative research such as observing who uses what, what facilities exist and what is lacking and so on.

It is also important to understand what demographics we will we be working with and what their needs/opinions are. In gaining these types of information, we can build a greater picture of who we are working with and what problems we are aiming to solve. In speaking with the community, we aim to establish a working relationship, gain trust and show our own interest for the project.

After gathering research on Maraenui and the people and places within the site area, we will then move onto what is known as placemaking research which is something Mandy will explain later.

In the afternoon, we held a meeting at 1pm heading, Human Interactions: “Creating spaces and places where this could happen”. 

Communities need:

  • Shift from passive to active
  • Facilitators
  • Relationships/connections

Attitude of self:

  • Put aside pre-existing assumptions or ego, and listen to the client/s and their needs
  • Be humble, be curious
  • ‘WHY’ are you thinking the ideas, what purpose will they serve
  • Observation/Documentation: Meet people, watch people
  • Community is the expert, they know the area and what they need

Team-building process:

  • forming: who, roles, styles/strengths
  • storming: build trust and relationships
  • norming: stability, knowing your position and what to do
  • performing: fly through, flow of independence and teamwork
  • Adjourning: the end, yay

Placemaking research:

This involves looking at how communities have used design methods to create people-friendly places; meaning to design for people needs rather than urban needs such as a lot of car or traffic density and tightly placed buildings. Placemaking looks at ways to create social interaction with people, object and environment and to generate a sense of personal identity for a given community. We will consider this later…

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A quick rundown of what tasks need to be done in the upcoming weeks. Initiate/Investigate Maraenui/placemaking research to see what other communities have done/generate concepts based on what we know/communicate the concepts to clients/teachers via green light.

 

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