Tuesday 29 October 2013


Our consultation event on Thursday at the Circle was a great opportunity to collect ideas and feedback about our project from the LGBT community of Sheffield.  We really enjoyed organizing the event and we and we had a great turn with lot positive and useful comments. The event was held in two rooms on the first floor.  We greeted guests at the door and gained an idea of our audience through our guest book sign in The participation games were all set up, with members of the live group directing them and explaining them to the guests.

Three games were held on the day: the spot the present & flag the future game, the puzzle game and the facade composition. Each game was designed in way for us to gather different types of information that would be relevant to enriching the project.

 The first mapping game aimed to gather information about the areas of Sheffield and where they would see and place the new LGBT Centre.
The second game was more about the spaces of the future venue. A person was a given a set of puzzle pieces which were representation of different types of spaces and depending on their transparency were public or private.  They were given connector pieces and could choose which types of spaces they wanted to see in the new LGBT Centre and how they would link together.  The public and private option was also available for the connector's pieces.

The third game was the creation of a facade.  Different background settings were provided with varying levels of openness on which elements such as windows could be added to build a composition.  This helped us to gain an understanding of how expressive or discrete people would want the LGBT Centre façade to be.


Overall, the games were played individually or in groups.  Post-it notes were also provided to the guests, so that people could comment and provide suggestion on our work to date, which included our precedent studies, ideas and research. Each game and action during the event were recorded and documented. We are currently in the process of collating and representing this information from the consultation. We want to thank the audience who attended our event and for their valuable participation, we hope everyone who attended also found it a enjoyable evening.

Monday 28 October 2013

Week 3// Tuesday// Meeting Matt from CHIV & Shout!

Last week we were very pleased to have the opportunity to meet Matt Harrison from the Centre for HIV & Sexual Health in Sheffield. We were warmly welcomed to the cosy Shout! office located at The Circle in the city centre. Here they offer a weekly drop-in evening providing advice to MSM (men who have sex with men) primarily on sexual health, but additionally covering a variety of other health and wellbeing workshops. The service provides group workshops and discussion evenings, as well as one-to-one support; their role is to provide information rather than a counselling service, in a safe space, where men are able to meet with other gay and bisexual men.

The Shout! service was founded in September 1996 and moved to their current home at The Circle in 2007. The building provides office space and function rooms to a wide range of groups and services. Matt expressed that the facilities and space within the building were brilliant and suited their needs well at present; our own view was that the building was bright, clean, open and accessible, so it is no surprise that Shout! are proud to be able to invite people to the space.

For many men Shout! may be their first point of contact with a service offering information to gay and bisexual men. The range of other building users, as well as the buildings central but not main street location, offers anonymity and a level of reassurance that a visitor will not be 'outed' for accessing the service. Matt also noted that the time of day helped with this, being from 6:30 until 8:30 there was a reduced footfall from those leaving work, but as the session ended there would not be a busy presence of pub-goers in the area.

Shout! are clear that their main focus is on issues of health (the service is funded by the NHS). Their website www.gaysheffield.co.uk acts as a signpost towards different health services in the area including the provision of a free condom postal service to MSM. They additionally offer links towards social groups and bars/clubs - which is certainly a valuable part of directing people and providing information (being social, after all, does a huge amount for your wellbeing!).

When considering Sheffield on a wider scale, Matt recognised that there are currently no comparable services for adult women who have sex with women and trans people within the city -  there are great support services for younger LGBT people, but adult and older adult populations have reported feeling isolated and without services specifically designed to support their health needs. Going on to discuss the position of a possible LGBT Centre within Sheffield, it was noted that there was a range of different needs within the city; whereas a person accessing an LGBT Centre may already be fully or partially in acceptance of their sexuality and are confident in themselves, there may still be a need for a more discreet service within the city. It also became clear to us through our discussion and through previous case studies (such as Manchester and Birmingham), that services should look to support each other and recognise each others specialities, allowing for a comprehensive and clear range of services and providers within the city.

Our meeting with Matt was both enjoyable and enlightening. Later that week he welcomed the Live LGBT team to the weekly Shout! meeting which was, for the first time, opened up to the wider public for this one-off consultation. Watch this space to see what a brilliant evening we had, raising some very interesting discussions with a wide spectrum of people from across Sheffield.

Friday 25 October 2013

An infinite spectrum

Sexuality and gender identity of those who attended our consultation evening.
We feel it vital that our consultation process is as far-reaching as possible and are extremely proud to have been able to talk with so many people at our recent event. Although we were already aware that sexuality and gender are on limitless sliding scales, this really highlighted the huge variety of people that make up the LGBT community (as well as those who might see themselves on the periphery, or indeed not part of it at all).

In a recent meeting with LGBT Sheffield it was said that we should "make [the centre] accessible to everyone, because at the moment that is not what Sheffield is." Everyone, of course, must therefore have an equal voice and be fully represented within our project and in the future of the LGBT Sheffield project.

“There are no nice shiny boxes, or if there are then there are an infinite number of them.” Hank, Human Sexuality is Complicated, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXAoG8vAyzI

LiveLGBT community event & survey

Thank you for taking the time to come to our event yesterday evening! It was fantastic to see so many people and to get your opinions on the existing LGBT community services and facilities within Sheffield and what could make the city a better place to be. We have created a short survey to make sure that we've interpreted your thoughts as accurately as possible and to see who is currently represented within our research - we want to be as far-reaching as we can!

We really appreciate any extra thoughts you have! Please follow this link to access the survey: LiveLGBT Survey

Thank you!

The Live LGBT team x

Friday 18 October 2013

Announcement // Consultation Event

Come down to Rockingham Lane, between Division Street and West Street and Division Street, next Thursday to get involved in our project and have your voice heard!

Our research will be displayed on presentation boards and our lovely group members will be there to discuss the project with you and answer any questions you may have.  We encourage you to make comments and leave suggestions on the parts of our work that interest you. Grab a pen and some post-it notes from one of our group!
There will also be three tabletop activities that we invite you to participate in, a collaging activity addressing building frontage, a mapping activity using flags and stickers, and a spatial relationship activity using "puzzle pieces" as a fun design tool.
See you at The Circle!

Thursday 17 October 2013

Week 3 // Thursday Meeting

This afternoon we had a fantastic meeting with LGBT Sheffield, Kath (Chair), Nell (Media & Press Relations) and Thomas (Staff LGBT Network), and Red Lester from The Sheena Amos Youth Trust (SAYiT!).  We had a chance to digitally present our research so far, including our progress mapping work, our participation events and our primary and secondary precedent research.

Mapping the Stakeholders and general Sectors of the Sheffield LGBT Community

Mapping Sheffield
The meeting was a great opportunity to discuss our work intentions and research aims in mapping exercises; we demonstrated through infographics how mapping existing services both geographically and in a networking sense allowed us to analyse which sectors of the community are not visibly represented (whether intentionally or because of a lack of voice) as well as where the community as a whole has less access to services. With this information we can begin to work towards coming up with strategies to address the needs of parts of the LGBT community that are often overlooked.

Precedents, Spatial and Strategic
We spent part of the presentation describing the LGBT establishments we visited in Manchester and Birmingham as well as Stockholm, their birth, development, funding, business models and most importantly their street presence and internal layout. This prompted a discussion about façades and translucency of glazing.  Should the outside shell of such a building be protective?  How could we avoid a "Fort Knox" aesthetic?  Or should a street front be welcoming and transparent?  How could we control confidentiality?  Ideas that went around the table included: Controlling translucency through varying grades of frosting on the glass relating to internal space; Limiting large transparent glazing to floors above ground level; Obscuring the glass just enough to maintain anonymity but still see the activity inside the building; Using electric switchable glass to provide activity dependent user-control.

Following from this discussion we presented a few architectural precedents that served as inspiration for public space, controlled privacy, façades and successful internal spaces.  We then talked about the virtues of outdoor space - especially when separated from the street, as well as the community and natural lighting advantages that internal courtyards can provide.

Herzog de Meuron's LABAN Centre :
An Example of translucent façade
Bearing in mind some of the considerations we touched on in the presentation, we began to look forward and discuss the known needs specific to a Sheffield LGBT Community Centre.  Red was very informative in the successes and shortcomings of the space that SAYiT currently uses.  There were general concerns regarding operational times and geographic location, proximity to a nightclub and to student halls; as well as the difficulties in sharing a building with non-charitable organisations who do not neccesarily have training to work with vulnerable people.  There were also more specific spaces that the Youth Trust required, including performance space - whether a dedicated theatre or a flexible activity space; and event spaces that were not overlooked by people outside the proceedings.

Legacy and heritage were concepts that we all felt were as important as the project itself.  In one sense, we discussed the possibility of creating a cross-generational library in which LGBT youth can learn about the activism of figures past and present that contribute to LGBT liberation.  In another sense, we talked about the general sustainability of the project in how we would archive are work and provide the toolkit for LGBT Sheffield and other linked organisations to use our work and continue developing their ambitions after our Live Project period expires. In a wider sense, we talked about the relevance of an online resource that can be accessed by interested parties as well as organisations who may want to do a similar project in another city - in this way Sheffield may serve as a model for reference.

Next Steps
The last half of the meeting consisted of a discussion of the work we are engaging in over the next week in parallel to our ongoing mapping and precedent exercises.  We specifically presented some of our planned activities for our community consultation event next Thursday and explained how they will focus on three fundemental questions: Location, Frontage and Spaces.
You will have to wait for the event to see the activities!

Explaining the Consultation Activities

Post-Meeting Hype - Mobilisation
Following the meeting we were very excited and carried our energy forward to get the gears in motion and delegate tasks.
In the next 30 minutes all thirteen of us had a list of things to do and got right to it!  On top of that we made general aims outside our tasks as a group - such as creating a bank of inspiration where we archive electronically any concepts or snapshots of architecture that we find interesting or relevant to the project.  We have secured a location for the consultation event and are well underway with preparations and recording and developping our work in parallel.

Exciting times!

Everyone has a job to do!

Friday 11 October 2013

Week 2// National Coming Out Day

Friday 11th October 2013 was the 25th annual National Coming Out Day (that's a silver anniversary)! This provided us with the perfect opportunity to talk about some of the issues facing the LGBT community in Sheffield, find out about a range of different experiences and start engaging with people to find out what they really want to see in the future.

People marking their 'LGBT spaces' (blue), support services (green) and unsafe spaces (orange). Then adding flags with thoughts of what would make Sheffield a better place for the LGBT community. 
We teamed up with the University of Sheffield LGBT comity who were setting up a stand in the Students' Union; not neccessarily to encourage people to come out but to promote being comfortable and proud with whoever you are.

We mainly spoke to students, but also a few staff within the university, who then marked their 'LGBT spaces', support services and places in which they felt less safe to express themselves on a map of Sheffield. To this then adding ideas of what they'd like to see in Sheffield to make it a better place for the LGBT community. We think that this started to reveal some interesting patterns and could become a useful tool in determining what a centre might need and where it could be sited.

This marks the beginning of what we hope will be a wide-reaching consultation process. We are aware that the student population are already well catered for (a growing opinion between those we've already spoken to is that Sheffield mainly caters for the young gay man). We are looking to extend our reach towards groups and generations aren't so visible at the moment - allowing our research to reflect something that is accessible to as many people as possible. Thank you to everyone who came and spoke to us, we really value your input and opinions!

Live LGBT group with members of the University of Sheffield LGBT Comity.