Socially Engaged Design

MA Narrative Environments, 2018

This project was developed as part of my masters degree course, in conjunction with the London Borough of Camden. The goal of the project was to work with the New Shoots Day Centre, a centre for adults with learning disabilities, to create a design proposal that would ease the transition into their new building. 


Social research was crucial to the success of our proposal. We spent weeks at the centre getting to know the members before we started designing. Immediately we understood the importance of the day centre in providing a sense of home to its members. Our proposal for their new space would need to establish a familiar, personal atmosphere in order to combat the foreignness of a brand new building.


We quickly found that the members had a strong attachment to the photographs which filled the centre. We crafted several activities around photographs in order to learn more about our users. Through these activities we found that the members interact with the photos in three main ways: to celebrate individuals, share personal memories and remember shared experiences. 


We proposed three installations inspired by the homey feeling of New Shoots and the comfort and community found in photographs. A wall of framed portraits of each member greets them as they enter. In a cosy corner of the main space there is a collection of photo albums curated by each member to provide more intimate moments of communication. In the busy dining area, sets of magnetic frames allow for members to rearrange, update, and bond over memories of shared experiences. 


Project Team: Layan Al-Saud, Malavika Navale, Francesca Rocca