Students working in Live Works with local people on Live Project

New project to explore the impact universities can make in cities across Europe

The relationship between education and the design of cities will be explored in a new research project, Urban Education Live. The School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield will work with academic and non-academic partners in Finland, Romania and Slovenia as they set up local hubs in locations across Europe.

Urban Education Live is a three-year project led by Dr Tatjana Schneider and Carolyn Butterworth, funded by the ESRC as part of the EU’s Joint Programme Initiative ‘Smart Urban Futures’. Partners will use their local hub to work with communities, schools, non profit organisations, businesses and councils to imagine new and inclusive futures for our cities. The Sheffield School of Architecture will utilise Live Works for this project which is the first permanent University funded Urban Room in the UK.

Dr Schneider explains “Programmes that bring together universities with non-university partners to work on issues such as community planning or wider citizen participation have a long history, going back to the community action and design centres that were set up in the U.S. in the early 1960s. In recent years, initiatives that focus on the coproduction of knowledge between academia and other partners have become more popular again. We believe that the time has come to investigate this history and develop new contemporary models that have the capacity to engage with the questions of our time.”

“Each partner will start with mapping of their local areas by examining the buildings, infrastructures, facilities, social and spatial amenities as well as other initiatives, collaborations and networks. This mapping will provide the basis for further engagement with the city through a number of teaching activities where students and academics will work on collaborative projects and undertake design work and research addressing certain challenges the city is facing. Local hubs will act as corner-shop-type spaces in the cities which we will use as work-bases for embedded and situated learning.“

“In recent years, more and more emphasis has been placed by central government on local people calling the shots over decisions that affect their lives. Yet, in times of austerity policies, this has often amounted to little more than tokenistic forms of co-production. What we hope to do with this project is to foster true collaborations between the university, the city and others in order to establish techniques and innovations that redress the political project of austerity.”

Students working at Live Works in SheffieldUrban Education Live in Sheffield builds on the long-term relationship between the School of Architecture and the City through many years of innovative teaching and research. This is most recently manifested in the School’s Live Works initiative, led by Carolyn Butterworth, which allows local people and organisations to learn about our civic engagement activities, suggest and collaborate with us on projects. The research also builds upon Tatjana Schneider’s extensive critical practice that addresses power imbalances in planning and architecture, discourse and practice.

Carolyn Butterworth explains “We are very excited about the possibilities that this project will bring to our engaged teaching and research. Urban Education Live in Sheffield will set up creative dialogues between students, academics and local citizens so that all can contribute to the making of a more inclusive, sustainable and dynamic city. As well as making a difference at a local level, our students will also be able to connect with and learn from the wider European network.”