Open Spaces

Art / Architecture / Citizenship

Open Spaces schools programme was a participatory programme for secondary schools exploring public space led by artists and designers Michelle Browne, Jo Anne Butler and Tara Kennedy.

‘Architecture is a record of the deeds done by those who have had the power to build’ Leslie Weismann

This project gives a voice to teenagers’ experiences of and ideas for public space in Dublin. It also investigates the potential for teenagers to influence architecture, planning, design and decision-making process around public space in the city. If teenagers had the ‘power to build’ what would they build and why? or would they choose to ‘build’ at all? The programme, carried out over a three month period, consisted of a collaborative workshop and fieldwork process.

The projects explore, through artistic means, a way to express the teenagers’ frustrations and find ways to highlight and reveal the experiences of the groups. Issues were raised including self-organising, safety, territory, authority and power, issues around money and fundraising, noise, stereotyping, sharing spaces with homeless people and ways in which boys and girls use public spaces differently. Proposals were suggested such as the multi-use of space and considering the potential for commercial spaces to be used at night-time by teenagers without bothering people in residential neighbourhoods. How could they overcome the stereotyping of teenagers? How could spaces be used by a cross section of society rather than one designated set of constituents? The final projects that evolved from the process are both practical and fanciful, playful and earnest in their effort to represent the experience and position of young people in society.

‘The Proposal’ is a series of five short-film documents of works for public space by students from five secondary schools across Dublin City. In these filmed works teenagers’ proposals are temporarily staged and enacted. Proposals range from temporary built structures and mobile devices to public protest and suggestions for re-thinking public attitudes and management structures for public space - proposals which cannot easily be presented in plan, section or perspective drawings. ‘The Proposal’ was Filmed by Areaman Productions.

The project was initiated by Dublin City Council Arts Office as part of the Open Spaces research programme.