Tuesday, 4 May 2010


Thank you to everyone that came along to take part in our interactive exhibition in Cluny Square over the bank holiday weekend! We had over 100 visitors during the course of three days and have some fantastic feedback to continue with the We ♥ the Suburbs project- we'll publish the results in the very near future.

Here is a taster of what went on:

The exhibition outside Cluny Square cafe in between showers.

The model of the St. Luke's area for the community to map out their daily routines exposing how they interact with their environment.

The take away pamphlet giving the visitors information on the exhibition and the wider context of the project.

Visitors could cast their votes on what they would spend money on to benefit their local area.
Consultation on the streets when the sun was shining.

Visitors used the yellow stickers supplied to answer a series of questions in which they could see how they relate to the rest of the community. The answers will give us an idea of the local area which we'll use to further the project.

The kids used chalk pens to write on the window of the cafe what they want in their park.


Thank you to all the artists involved in the We ♥ the Suburbs exhibition.  Local artist, Jess Worley, held a workshop on Saturday giving local children to express their feelings about St. Luke's through drawing, textiles and jewellery.  The exercise was a great success!

Throughout the bank holiday weekend local artists Katrina Burtles, Kelly Donovan, Antoinette Goossens, and Rachel Nead  created a real presence for our exhibition in Cluny Square.  They used the idea of community celebration in conjunction with archival images found which really helped to engage local people.


Friday, 30 April 2010

BD Article

Building Design website and weekly paper have featured an article profiling the winners of the RIBA/ICE bursary. Check out the link below...


Thursday, 29 April 2010


We are delighted to have been chosen from 39 entries and awarded £5,000 funding for 'We Heart the Suburbs' by the RIBA ICE Bursary! The bursary is committed to the progress of environmental and community issues in the UK and abroad.

John McAslan, the chairman of John McAslan + Partners architects is quoted as saying:
"Melanie and Sarah's UK based project is a fresh idea that demonstrates a commitment to making a positive impact on the community."

Ruth Reed, the president of the RIBA is quoted as saying:
"This year's bursary recipient are excellent examples of the kind of innovative and altruistic thinking that must be embraced if we are to meet the many challenges facing us in the future."

For more information of the bursary and its winners, check out the link below...

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


The much anticipated We Heart the Suburbs exhibition has finally arrived! Over this May Bank Holiday weekend we will be in Cluny Square, St. Luke's finding out about the local community. Come along to see the results!

Friday, 16 April 2010


We have selected two fantastic ideas from a selection of very strong proposals to contribute to the We Heart the Suburbs exhibition in Cluny Square, St. Luke's! The winners are...

Jess Worley's workshop proposal that uses her experience as an artist specialising in textiles and jewellery design.

Katrina Burtles, Kelly Donovan, Antoinette Goossens and Rachel Nead's proposal for an installation that aims to evoke memories of past celebrations and events within the community.

We are really excited about working with these local talents!

Thursday, 1 April 2010


In preparation for the upcoming We Heart the Suburbs exhibition in Cluny Square, St. Luke's, we are calling upon local artists and designers to contribute ideas. Artists and designers of all levels of experience and all backgrounds have the opportunity to submit proposals with the chance of realising these ideas and winning a cash prize of £150! If you're interested, check out the brief below...

Friday, 26 March 2010


We Heart the Suburbs has been making great progress and has secured funding for Stage 1 of the project.

We have recieved funding from the University of Sheffield Knowledge Transfer fund to carry out research on suburbia through an interactive exhibition that will help to get a better picture of the real motivations and aspirations of suburbanites.

We have also recieved funding from UnLtd Millenium fund, who specialise in supporting social enterprise to carry out a series of workshops to engage the people of St. Luke's in Southend-on-Sea.

Keep an eye on this blog for details of how you can get involved!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


To anybody in the Southend area, keep an eye out for the brilliant Level 4 magazine and its article on ‘We ♥ the Suburbs’. Thanks to Sean Groth from Level 4 for his interest in the project. And we’re delighted to be sharing the pages with a Sheffielder - Jarvis Cocker!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Through addressing and evaluating the findings of Stage 1, we aim to produce a temporary built form for the summer of 2010. The design for this structure will be made public throughout the design process. A series of workshop events and pin-up opportunities will allow the public to react, critique and suggest during the design process. The built form will fulfil the following criteria:

  • It will address a true need or desire of the public highlighted in Stage 1
  • It will be designed and built in collaboration with the public
  • It will be site-specific and reflect something unique to the community that it serves
  • It will utilise an underused or vacant space within the community
  • It will evolve over the project duration due to user interaction which will encourage visitors to return to see how it has changed

Here are some examples of the kind of work we want to achieve in Southend-on-Sea:

Southend Soapbox’ by Cassion Castle Architects in collaboration with Fleet Architects, Southend-on-Sea, at Metal’s Village Green festival last summer.

‘Frank’s CafĂ©’ by Paloma Gormley and Lettice Drake, Peckham, London.

‘The Dalston Mill’ by EXYZT.

‘Le 56’ by Atelier d’Architecture Autogeree, Paris.

You’ll notice from all the examples that they use cheap, low-tech materials and were temporary and make shift in nature.  However, for their short-lived lives they were a valuable contribution to the community and their short-term nature created a buzz and sense of event around the project.

However, it is fundamental to the ethos of We ♥ the Suburbs, that we do not predetermine or dictate the form that Stage 2 will take.

So where are we now with We ♥ the Suburbs?  We're applying for funding to make this happen and we have every confidence we will be on our way soon.  Keep checking this site for news on the project's start date and how you can get involved!


The first stage will engage with local suburbanites in three areas of Southend-on-Sea – St. Luke’s, Milton and Victoria. In each area there will be an interactive exhibition that asks locals to participate through sharing ideas, desires and memories. The exhibition will work as a form of ‘blank canvas’ that the public add to and manipulate to gain a true picture of suburban lifestyles and attitudes. Interactive maps, models, films and photography will enable the local public to create the content of their own exhibition, both highlighting the needs and desires of the local public, and celebrating its existing culture. The main themes addressed will be:

  • Suburban memories and stories (Memory)
  • Recording, mapping and analysing the ‘everyday’ of Suburbanites (The Everyday)
  • The future of suburbia in reaction to contemporary, global issues, i.e. climate change and energy usage (Prospects)

The exhibitions will not only help to generate public engagement, but will also affirm creative networks in the areas. We will achieve this through delegating sections of the exhibitions to local young or non-established designers, architects or artists, through issuing a ‘competition’ 6 weeks prior to the event.

A fourth exhibition will be held in a more central location that will collate, analyse and conclude the information and knowledge gained from the local exhibitions. This will allow all members of the wider community to attend and see how their reactions compare with other areas. This is proposed in an effort to maximise public awareness of the project.

Some examples of work we admire:

CUP’s ‘Green Information Centre’, New York.  They worked with local young people to produce a roaming booth to engage with the local community.  It contained information to answer the local’s green questions.

Public Works’ ‘Park Products’, London.  The project worked with local park users, gardeners, rangers and students to help design the park products.


We ♥ the Suburbs is a project that aims to run for approximately one year. Within this time frame there are two major threads to the project. Firstly, a community based project that aims to benefit the suburban environment. Secondly a research project that aims to shed light on the much overlooked territory of Suburbia within the architectural profession.


‘We ♥ the Suburbs’ is concerned with the evolving role of to architect in a contemporary context. While responding to needs and problem solving is an entirely important role of the architect, we believe that there are further strings to the architectural bow. This project will test an ethos in which the architect can initiate projects, mediate and translate on behalf of others, uncover relevant issues that have been ignored due to a lack of clear client or figurehead, work with communities to formulate briefs and consider the process and the consequences of architecture as vital as the product.

This diagram indicates the de-linearised project structure that ‘We ♥ the Suburbs’ has adopted. It illustrates an organisation where designers, beneficiaries and funders operate with shared motivations.

Monday, 1 February 2010


Focal Point Gallery have kindly invited us to present and discuss our project at their monthly Creative Network meeting on Wednesday 10th February from 5.30pm until 7.00pm. We want anyone creative and/or interested in their local area to collaborate with us to investigate and discover the culture of their suburbia- so come along to see how you can get involved!

We look forward to seeing you all there.

Location:  Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea Central Library.
Day:  Wednesday 10th February
Time:  5.30pm until 7.00pm

Thursday, 21 January 2010


We will be at Fresh Horizons tonight to speak about our project in Southend-on-Sea.  Over the last couple of months we have concentrated on speaking with people in Southend whilst gaining support and momentum for the project.  Tonight, you can have an informal chat with us about your hometown and make suggestions for our project. If you want to find out more- come along!  

FRESH HORIZONS: 50 Ditton Court Road, Westcliff (close to Westcliff Station).
From 7.30pm.

For more info, call: 07813 693 107