The SIBC is the outcome of a research based project reflecing on this brief.

Part 1: Greetings from Rhyl

‘Design your vehicles’

The initial stage of this project is concerned with researching and understanding Rhyl and its citizens. You are asked to identify spaces or communities of interest (fashion culture, mobile shops, community groups) within Rhyl and design an expanded ‘vehicle’ to allow you to engage with them.

The ‘data’ generated by your vehicle can be reviewed, altered and revised before, during and after the initial ‘ride’. The ‘drive’ (direction, destination and passengers) of your vehicle can be reviewed, altered and revised before, during and after the initial ‘ride’.

Field trip and deployment; Design in the wild Once you have designed your vehicle, it’s time for a test drive. Your trip to Rhyl will allow you to understand the town and its occupants. But remember; things may go wrong. Have a plan B (C and D). Be prepared to react when plans collapse.

Part 2: Twin Towns

'Underdogs and Industries’

During this section of the project you are asked to locate and identify a ‘twin town’. Twin Towns were used after the Second World War to “foster friendship and understanding between different cultures and between former foes as an act of peace and reconciliation, and to encourage trade and tourism”. What does this mean in a global, networked, post-BREXIT world? How do we form new relationships to prepare us for a troubled future?

Part 3: Future Strategies

‘Designing schemes and possibilities’

The final phase of the project asks you to design, visualise and represent new possible futures for Rhyl and your twin town. The proposals must be clearly linked to the communities and people you met during your initial stage. Your design process should demonstrate how you’ve listened, evolved and imagined a set of scenarios that materialise the ambition and dreams of your chosen communities. The aims of these proposals is to give a voice (and a level of visual resolution) to ideas that normally don’t get taken seriously.

Part 4: Reinsertation Into Reality

As an additional stage to the project, the most successful projects will be asked to return to Rhyl and present their work to the communities that inspired them. By tracking and assessing their response to your work, we hope to build a greater understanding of how we represent the most diverse futures possible.

Mission

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.

Using Rhyl as the first place we want to implement our proposal, we hope to re-engage the community to help them regain their voices, so they can take part in Rhyl’s new chapter of regeneration. Our workshop pulls from a cross-section of Rhyl’s population and helps them engage in a making process. Throughout this process they are asked different questions about their thoughts about said project. These individuals are representatives of the public and through this workshop we hope to gain helpful insights into the concerns, needs and expectations of the public to then share with the stakeholders of the projects. We also hope that through this experience we can encourage participants to think more critically about their engagement with public space and the future of their environments.

The inspiration for the design of this workshop began as an exploration 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 apart 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.

In “Modernising Planning: Public Participation in the UK Planning System” by Alan Townsend & Janet Tully they talk about the Patsy Healy’s idea for Collaborative Planning. In it they say, “This draws on many strands: the realisation that when dealing with a shared space there is a need to search for effectiveness and accountability and to distribute a sense of ownership; and a recognition that public reasoning is legitimate and that expert opinions are no more valid than those expressed by the public. An aim must be, therefore, to integrate urban and regional change more closely with the processes of governance. The key to this is the desire for collaborative planning to seek a ‘win-win’ solution rather than an ‘I win-you lose’ approach.” We find this idea of Collaborative Planning to be a thoughtful way to think about our proposal and pull from these thoughts in trying to create an inclusive form of engagement that benefits both the government but foremost the people living in these spaces. These are just some of the examples of research we used to help form our ideas. There are many articles and research papers that talk about the importance of public engagement and participation in urban planning. When done well it can create pride in a community and it can re-engage locals to think about the of future of their spaces and take care of them. We see an example of this in Rhyl at the Brickfield Pond. After the brickworks industry ended it was left in disarray, and was notable a dangerous place that was not frequented by locals. It has now be transformed into an animal sanctuary where persons of that community contribute to the upkeep of the space and are proud of its beauty. Our proposal hopes to give developers a toolkit to create engagement with their communities. It helps bring together a cross-section of Rhyl’s population to take part in a workshop that effectively implements community input. Helping developers/planners get a deeper understanding of the needs of the communities they affect.