Beneficiary / Participants
Urban Memo is a co-design methodology aimed at engaging small groups of participants in a situated reflective practice. It is a participative process to be used at a neighbourhood scale involving citizens of any age and background. The method uses imagery over text/speech making it inclusive for those with weaker verbal or written communication skills, eg. non-native speakers. It works as an effective intergenerational and intercultural mediation tool, facilitating the confrontation of diverse perspectives on places and stances of local communities.
Urban Memo is a methodology developed by Tesserae to facilitate participative processes through visualisation. It is employed to foster collective reflection and elaboration on a given socio-spatial context and improve the capacity to use photography and graphic composition. Urban Memo is aimed at assessing urban territories, engaging local communities and scripting place narratives.
Description of the method
The Urban Memo workshop was inspired by the popular game Memory or Concentration Game. Its simple structure is based on two sets of picture cards that the players need to match to score points. The collaborative design of the memory game is employed by Tesserae as a flexible instrument for facilitating urban surveys and participative processes.
An Urban Memo workshop consists basically of five phases that may assume different relevance according to the purpose of the workshop and the participants interest:
Definition / Collection /Selection / Production / Application
1. Definition The first session defines the scope of the workshop and the geographical boundary of the focus area. Participants discuss the purpose of the workshop, the specific focus, the geographical area under scrutiny, the rules of exploration and the format of the materials that will be produced in the successive phase.
2. Collection The participants explore the focus area using digital photography to capture elements they find significant.They are free to collect as many images and ideas as they wish. They can also collect physical items, scan paper documents, or download stock images available in the commons. Any sort of documentary material is admitted as long as it can be reduced to a single chart with a clear iconic form. Successively each participant will propose a strict selection of few poignant elements. This phase ends with a plenary to discuss individual selections and combine them in a common collection.
3. Selection An online repository is required to share and organise the set of images. For this purpose a Trello Board may be useful. The facilitator introduces a set of categories used to classify the images. This taxonomy can be discussed and adapted according to the workshop’s purpose and context. The selection process can take some time and involve online interaction. Voting tools can be also used to determine the final selection of images to represent the focus area, usually a maximum of 64 images.
4. Production The set of digital images (drafts) are reworked and edited to produce the final cards, including going back on site to take more appropriate photo shots. Depending on the focus and skills of the participants, training on photography and graphic design can be provided as part of the learning experience. Otherwise, this phase can be delegated to a skilled designer / photographer to produce a final version. Therefore, the actual set of cards is produced creating a layout, printing and cutting the cards. Multiples can be produced as a material outcome for each of the participants.
5. Application The card set is ready for use. It can be employed for recreational purposes, as a regular memory card game. The game can be turned into a tool to facilitate discussion and foster reflective practices, i.e. extracting cards and asking for comments and stories about the represented places or for mapping issues and conflicts. The set of cards can be used to stimulate “find the spot” tours and treasure hunts. It can be used to create storyboards, using the cards as representing plans and shots for a video.
3 to 5 meetings to elaborate the artefact.
- Digital cameras and smartphones for the initial capture of images.
- The collection of pictures can be refined with professional cameras and work once the selection is done. Video projector and organising software are used to organise the collections in collaborative sessions (Trello, Google drive, etc).
- Laser printer, cardboard, glue, cutter: printing, assembling, cutting the cards (this can be done in a copy centre if not available within the organisation).