In October 2014, Urban Lightscapes/Social Nightscapes brought together 25 international lighting design professionals, architects, planners and social scientists for a week-long workshop on Peabody’s Whitecross Estate (London).
The aim was to explore how social research could be better used to help designers understand the social spaces and users they are designing for, and how to better integrate social research into design processes.
Led by the LSE-based Configuring Light/Staging the Social programme in collaboration with the Social Light Movement, participants were trained in ‘Social Research in Design’ – an approach developed for the project, and supported by an open access handbook and training exercises.
This approach used hands on engagement with specific sites on the estate to help participants develop an awareness of their social understanding of spaces and users, to gain practical experience of carrying out focused social research, and to explore the ways in which their design thinking could interact creatively with social research findings.
Participants, working in groups focused on specific sites, explored social research in the context of a realistic design process: each group produced a lighting design, responding to their research, and presented it to a symposium comprising Peabody staff, residents,other designers and academics.
This highly innovative application of academic research within design practice has engaged with and delivered benefits for the lighting design and planning profession, the1,200 residents of the Whitecross Estate and for Peabody. The project was funded by LSE HEIF5 and received technical sponsorship from iGuzzini.