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