A social design project to promote meaningful encounters at street level

Client: Flemish Association of Cities and Municipalities
Partner: Design Flanders
Run by: Studio Dott & Pantopicon

Museum In Our Street.  Improving social cohesion at street level

Photo: Studio Dott

Photo: Studio Dott

What was the problem?

This project was the result of a study concerning social cohesion on street level of Design Flanders and the VVSG (Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities). The research showed that contact between neighbours in urban areas are often limited, for example it is not unusual that inhabitants of the same street have never spoken to each other before.

This led to the ‘Streetstarters’ project, a social design project to promote simple but meaningful encounters between people who live in each other’s direct proximity. ‘Streetstarters’ aimed at providing answers to more social interaction and therefore adhesion at hyper local level.

What did they do?

Studio Dott and Pantopicon started to work out ideas that would facilitate interactions between neighbours and would show them each other’s interests.

Museum In Our Street (MIOS) is a toolkit that can be used to strengthen social cohesion at street level. It contains ingredients to encourage residents to get to know each other better and make it easier to strike up a conversation by sharing personal experiences, fascinations or hobbies.

Photo: Studio Dott

Photo: Studio Dott

The residents of a number of test streets in Antwerp were actively involved in the design process from the start with interview kits and workshops. The various concepts and ideas that were tested and developed in this led to the development of MIOS.

The kit invites residents to turn their window into a museum glass cabinet. With a self-adhesive frame neighbours can show passers an image or object that says something about them or their life. Conversation topics are thus created, which lowers the threshold for dialogue between the residents of the neighbourhood.

Inhabitants can furthermore indicate with special stickers their liking for a certain displayed object, for example because they share the passion for this certain item, hobby or occupation. The kit also includes a set of contact cards that enables neighbours to encourage each other to participate to the project or to get together.

What was the result?

MIOS achieved many new contacts in several streets where it was used. People became members of music groups, made a cycling trip together or started art clubs.

The results of the project are often very positive, and inhabitants keep on meeting long after the projects end. With the MIOS concept Concrete and Pantopicon won de international acknowledged Core77 Design Award for Service Design.

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