“The creative practitioner has an important role in re-imagining spaces and scenarios for living together. It is clear that we need better spaces, whether they are reconstructed or built anew. However, it is not about simply building them, but how we can collectively create them and care for them. This process does not have a clear roadmap, nor a linear trajectory. As such, the practice is not a series of projects or a series of interventions. It is actually an attitude and it has to become embodied through the practice of the not-yet.”
This quote reflects our intention for the current edition of KHSH Summer Academy. It starts with an open attitude and curiosity to discover how we can contribute together to the needs and desires of a given space. The location we will explore in this research is the Cultural Community Center Trakia. For this space our actions will focus on collaboration and the exchange of knowledge and experience. We will try to answer the question whether (and how), through an interdisciplinary approach, engagement, and presence, we can provoke social transformations that are in harmony with the environment. We will work on these processes in two different stages. Stage one will be during the summer of 2018 and stage two is scheduled for 2019.
The Cultural Community Center Trakia–that will simultaneously be our working studio, and our experimental case of research-is located in the heart of the neighborhood Kichuk Paris. You find Kichuk Paris–little Paris–behind the railway station of Plovdiv. The area is an assemblage of different scales of industry that have accumulated over the last half century with different building types from haphazard one-person studios to larger warehouses that shape its landscape. Kichuk Paris is a vibrant area, where a large variety of migrant settlers and skilled laborers with a diverse mix of backgrounds have melted together to become a self-aware community with a strong connection to the place.
The objective of our research will be the development of harmonious social and ecological networks in the neighborhood. We will begin visualizing the potential of the neighborhood, by looking into the rich knowledge of trades and skills in combination with the material resources that belong to the site. We will work in close connection with the community and find starting points in the questions that they have concerning their surroundings.
Together, besides exploring the qualities of the site and its inhabitants, we will document and organize our findings in a functional inventory. We will apply the experience of our practice and will look for new connections and possible solutions that we will implement into the reality of the place. These design interventions will be created for the needs and context of the place we will inhabit and hopefully can be used as tools for social change.
#collect, #design, #create, #transform
The implementation of this year's edition is planned in two stages. Stage One includes an research program conducted in a form of a six-day workshop, July 2–7, 2018. Stage Two includes a public program scheduled for implementation in 2019.
WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN BETWEEN
JULY 2-7, 2018?
We will begin with a workshop where we will collectively explore the potential of the Kichuk Paris neighborhood in Plovdiv. The workshop will take place in the space of the cultural community center Trakia, situated in the same neighborhood that has expressed a need for better spatial conditions for its activities. We will work on collecting data and information and with this we will harness our imagination to develop a series of projects and proposals for products that are intended to serve the needs of the community center.
For six days we will meet local residents and producers in the neighborhood. We will collect data and stories about their skills and knowledge about the machines and materials they use. Our special attention will be focused on the use and documentation of unused residual materials from local production processes. The collected information will be organized in a visual system. We will use this created inventory as a starting point for developing new design solutions. The results could range from the signboard of the community center made of waste material in the nearest workshop to information structure, flexible furniture or a decorative wall. We will have fun while we are faced with the challenge of implementing in the design process the the local community’s stated desire to develop a bright and welcoming space for culture and communication. Taking the free resource of the neighborhood and giving it a new function will not only directly contribute to the enrichment of its living environment, but will also initiate new local relationships. We believe that our material environment can be enjoyable, affordable and of optimal quality, with unnecessary materials kept to a minimum. Together we will apply it in practice on the spot.
WHAT WE HAVE PLANNED IN 2019
The realization of the Public Program is scheduled for 2019, again in the space of the Trakia community center. It will consist of a discussion podium/forum and practical implementation of projects generated during and after the workshop of 2018. These projects, in addition of being part of the space context, will remain in its infrastructure as a working example of the opportunities generated by the research and the power of design.
More details about this stage will be published after August 2018.
During the workshop we will be guided by the unique methodology, exceptional professionalism and expertise of the Dutch spatial designer and architect Elmo Vermijs, accompanied by product designers from the Bulgarian studio Tuhlla-Rostislav Dimitrov, Vladimir Kirchev and Zahari Radev.
The underlying thread in Elmo Vermijs’ projects is to reveal the potential of a given place and addressing key issues like the relationship between people and the environment, the circular economy and sustainable design. His iconic 100% Terschelling project, realized on the Dutch island of Terschelling, not only managed to create a public pavilion made entirely by existing unused materials and skills available on this island but also transformed the understanding of sustainability and social interaction into its community.
More about his work can be found at: elmovermijs.com
The team of Tuhlla already has experience and strategies for dealing with the industrial potential of the Kichuk Paris neighborhood, as clearly expressed in their products. They will be our local experts and will share with us their valuable experience and know-how. Their products feature outstanding precision and balance between shape, functionality and craftsmanship. In the process, they find the key to creating a good design in direct communication with people working with the materials.
Find out more about them at: http://tuhlla.com
Maria Mitcheva (BG) and Auriane Preud'homme (FR)
Urban landscapes, fieldwork, research methods and techniques, journalism, circular knowledge exchange, attentive dialogue, data visualization, visual communication, design strategies, product development, skillcity.
We invite all creative people looking for new challenges to apply. These may be architects, product or graphic designers, journalists, photographers, or social scientists. We believe in the effectiveness of interdisciplinary cooperation, so we do not put any restrictions on age or specialization, your personal motivation and the skills you will bring to the project are the most important.
The compilation of the program is a result of the collective efforts of highly qualified professionals and enthusiasts from different disciplines. Each member of the team has its unique qualities and skills, reflected in the shape of the content. This qualities are key to the strength of our program and therefore we find important to make them visible and accessible. Therefore the profile of everyone involved in the making of this project will be published on this site as a part of the on going inventory. Every image present in the site is part of this inventory and simultaneously a link to the profile of its subject.
The team members so far are:
– Auriane Preud'homme, Boriana Cherkelova, Carolyn Srauss, Dima Stefanova, Elmo Vermijs, Lotte van Gelder, Maria Mitcheva, Mina Stoilcheva, Rostislav Dimitrov, Vesselina Foteva, Vladimir Kirchev and Zahari Radev.
ABOUT THE PLATFORM
The KHSH Summer Program is an independent learning platform that explores design and art practice as a means of cultural and social transformation. From 2015 onwards the program is organized in the summer in Bulgaria and takes place over the course of one or two weeks. We treat topical issues related to the urban environment. We look into the many layers that constitute the identity of a place, by probing its social relationships, visual language and historical traces with a specific design frame. Through this practice we reveal local expertise and existing resources, and bring them forward in a new light.
The mission of KHSH is to promote and enable the transfer of “know-how”: tangible and intangible instances embedded in our cultural heritage that inform who we are as communities and as a culture, where we have been and where we place our values for the future. KHSH’s programs are live encounters that center around “learning by doing”, one of the most powerful tools to support personal development of skills and life experience. The set up and the environmental context where the learning process takes place are as important as the quality of the teaching itself. They are frameworks that define attitudes towards the environment and help generate awareness of personal capacities and also about the impact that personal actions can have on the community.
Today’s rapid transformations in the cultural and social environment are influencing the distribution of knowledge, and challenge us to evaluate our values on a daily basis. These processes have a direct impact on the ways we learn and perceive our environment. Therefore a new approach to education, one that is responsive, able to generate new models and can meet the evolving needs of society is needed more then ever.
Intangible heritage is especially vulnerable to those changes and needs care and attention. The promotion and preservation of this heritage has always been a priority for KHSH and is an important theme running through all of its initiatives. The goal is to involve or activate it in the present through new creative investigations, encounters with makers and doers, storytelling and story-making, individually and in groups, and always in evolving dialogue.
During our first three editions the city of Sofia was our workstation and the topics we drew our attention to were: 2015–ECHO/Resonant Identities, 2016–Re-connect/object in context, 2017–Re-source/building as a material.
Plovdiv ECoC 2019, Chitalishte Trakia (Cultural Community Center), Studio Tuhlla, Supernovi, Academy of Arts Plovdiv, Faculty of Philosophy and History Plovdiv University 'Paissii Hilendarski';
* The project is part of the official program of Plovdiv European Capital of Culture 2019.