Samskapa Landskap – Cocrafting in Linnarhult
By Helena Hansson and Elena Raviola
WP2 investigates new ways of designing meeting places for play and recreation in peri-urban areas of Gothenburg. The method to be explored is co-crafting with a focus on developing temporary multi-purpose structures for play, farming and outdoor furnishing. The basic idea with the WP is to challenge the notion of play and playground as fixed in the urban life schedule. The methodological framework is based on ideas where the notions of design processes are understood as “ongoing infrastructuring” (Björgvinsson et al, 2010), and “participatory crafting processes” (von Busch and Pazarbasi, 2018). WP 2 consists of four iterative phases, which are the following:
1. Identifying spaces and times for meeting in peri-urban areas and negotiating with local actors the cocraftability of temporary structures for play;
2. Performing workshops to co-craft temporary structures for play, farming and outdoor furnishing;
3. Prototyping and evaluating tools for co-crafting temporary structures for play;
4. Proposing guidelines for inclusive and mobile co-crafting of temporary structures of play.
Involved partners in WP2 are HDK-Valand (Helena Hansson and Elena Raviola), The National Handicraft council (Otto von Busch), The Cultural Development Administration, Region Västra Götaland (Mania Teimouri and Sara Degerfält ) and EAC (Sarah Mubiru, contact person).
About EAC Linnarhult – the site and the actors
Our main collaborating partner is Eco Agroforestry re-creation Center (EAC), a civic organization based in Linnarhult, a recreational area situated in the North-Eastern part of Gothenburg, close to the sub-urban areas Angered, Hjällbo and Bergsjön. Linnarhult is a large peripheral green area, just located beside industrial buildings, large housing areas, and two bigger roads. The river Lärjeån meanders its way across the 26 hectar of land that rented by EAC from the Gothenburg Municipality. As Gothenburg municipality write on their web site (https://www.goteborg.com/platser/larjeans-dalgang) the Lärjeån river valley is a popular area for horse riding, sport fishing and hiking. There is, for example, a pilgrim trail that follows the river. It has a great natural value, and therefore is a partly protected area:
“In the Lärjeån valley there are grazed pastures, deciduous forest and heath areas. The valley has a great natural value with lush forest and rich plant and animal life and is therefore partly a protected area. There are both trout and salmon in the river”.
EAC as an organization was established in 2016 by the two organizations: Planta Panta Tree (PPT) and Hope for Sustainable Forest (HSF). Many of the founding members have their cultural roots in East Africa, (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia). A wish was to join forces to activate the space, aiming to create cultural bridges, also to create stronger bridges between Sweden and East Africa through Agroforestry methods of farming. An ambition was to take the learnings for the East African countries to Sweden, and an important driving force behind EAC is to make children and youth in the peri-urban areas of Northeastern Gothenburg come to the Linnarhult site for play and recreational activities in nature.
The vision of EAC is to establish a buzzing meeting place where people can meet, make, learn and grow together in cooperation with a diversity of actors, including students and universities. EAC’s vision is based on four pillars: Agroforestry, Integration, Education and Impermanence, where agroforestry was the starting point. The research project became an opportunity to concretize EAC’s vision in practice. This was done by exploring co-crafting as a method with a focus on developing temporary multi-purpose structures for play, farming and outdoor furnishing. Of great importance is that there exists no building permission, why the developed structures must be temporary.
Image 2 Jocelyn Solape Junaid engaged in a planting activity taking place at the EAC Linnarhult site in 2016, before the researchers were engaged in the process. Image: Sarah Mubiru, 2016.
Image 3 A view from the EAC Linnarhult site, a recreational space consisting of 26 hectars of land situated in the North-Eastern part of Gothenburg. Image: Helena Hansson, 2019.
2. WHY ARE WE HERE?
The reasons for being in Linnarhult – previous development and educational activities
(Based on earlier project documentation and students project reports)
By Helena Hansson
As you can read in this section, the research project did not just appear out from nothing but is deeply anchored in an on-going development process, run by EAC. The research builds on previous development and educational processes, conducted in cooperation with EAC, which took place during 2018-2020.
At this time, I was still a doctoral student, who was connected to the international research platform Mistra Urban Futures, which had nodes (Local Interactive Platforms, LIPs) in different parts of the world. One of the LIPs was based in Kisumu, Kenya, where my project was based. Another LIP was based in Gothenburg, Sweden, where also the head quarter of MUF was situated. My research was part of a collaboration which aimed to connect the two LIPs. The reason why I started to collaborate with EAC was because of my research experience from East Africa. It led to an involvement in the project Stadslandet, an EU funded project run by Business Region Gothenburg, with focus on sustainable destination development, where both MUF and EAC was engaged. During 2018 I came to support EAC with organizational development within the Stadslandet project. Together with an activist, and later MFA student at HDK Valand, Ashley Julien, I developed a set of co-creative workshops, where stakeholder mapping was used as the main method. The activities aimed to support EAC in formulating their vision and in identifying key partners and development areas. As trust was built, and there was a want to continue the collaborative work, I decided to engage my students in EAC’s development work.
Image 4. Pictures from some of the initial collaborative development activities with EAC. The activity was linked to the project Stadslandet, which took place in the spring 2018. Photo credit: Helena Hansson, 2018.
Notable is that it at this time existed few built structures on the Linnarhult land. The students hence made an important pioneering work, as they started to build temporary structures for play and recreation. The previously hidden place became visible and began to be used. The prototypes and the process reports were still part of a collective memory when the research project started in November 2020.
3. THE RESEARCH PROJECT BEGINS! (Helena and Elena)
Starting off in Linnarhult – with people’s articulated desires and needs.
By Helena Hansson and Elena Raviola
The overall aim with the research project is to explore possibilities to use crafting techniques to intervene in its public spaces and make play diffuse rather than segregated to playgrounds. During 2021 and 2022, a series of design and craft interventions were organized to transform Linnarhult for public play. In in this post, we tell how the research process all started with a list of articulated needs and desires.
In late October 2020 we got the news. We were granted funding for our project “Transforming the City for Play” by FORMAS. Now, it was time to get going! I, Helena, immediately contacted the EAC’s board and organized a meeting where I briefly presented the project and the process. I showed a presentation which backtracked what have happened before the research started. I asked the board members if they could come up with and list different ideas and needs that they would like to concretize in Linnarhult within the project framework. We wanted to start from their desires and needs rather than of imposing ideas from the outside.
At a second meeting, I proposed a visualization of their ideas in a presentation. One highlighted desire from EAC was to continue working with willow as a material, which I had been introducing and testing in earlier educational projects based in Linnarhult during the spring of 2019 (see post 2, and image XX) As earlier research had shown (see, for example, Hansson 2021), the willow material was enjoyable to work with. It was strong, yet easy to work with. The simple weaving technique made it possible for a variety of actors (even children) to work and build play structures together, even without having professional craft skills.
There was also a wish to continue working with Sloydtrukk and Karl Hallberg. Earlier that autumn (September 2020), I had organized an educational activity where students from the Child Culture design program at HDK-Valand had co-crafted together with EAC members. Karl Hallberg had made them try out woodworking using simple crafts technologies where one result became hangers to be used in the café (Image 3). The co-craft activity had worked out very well, so EAC requested that Karl Hallberg should come back as a pedagogue and co-crafter.
Finally, one of the members of EAC, who were connected to the youth organization Tidsnätverket Bergsjön (brought up the idea to build a stage/outdoor cinema. This idea had been articulated by youth already in 2019 (see post 3) when TNB members had participated in a co-design activity arranged by Saskia van Ruiten, a student studying the master’s program Child Culture Designer at HDK-Valand. Although the youth were not actively part of this initial phase of the research process, they were hence represented by adults, who brought forward their voices, and were the children’s advocators.