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!

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