COLLABORATORS: Keeley Travel
STUDENT GROUPS: BA (Hons) Architecture, MArch Architecture, BA (Hons) English
PROJECT TYPE: Transdisciplinary practice, creative writing.
Free City explores the overlooked city spaces remaining at the edges of our consciousness both as city dwellers and designers. They are hiding in plain sight because we lack the language to name them. They are the indescribable “edgelands”, the overlooked places in between voids, and no man’s lands.
We see them all as spaces of potential – not ready to be commodified but allowing for the escape beyond the neoliberal narrative where our role and purpose are pre-defined and pre-commodified. Using walking as an initial mapping tool, students prepared a guide to the Free City of Birmingham, assuming the role of a storyteller revealing the city through other people’s stories – similar to Italo Calvino’s Marco Polo in “Invisible Cities” where he maps the city of Venice as the most unreliable of narrators – a skillful creator of myths, but yet, never guilty of lying.
The aim of this project is to establish a trans-disciplinary approach where conventional mapping techniques used in architecture and planning meet storytelling, poetry and film-making – creating a new layer of expression and understanding of the city.