Beep Studio designed and ran a creative evening of design, role-play, and subterfuge for the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.
The setting: a parallel now, in which the RIBA HQ at 66 Portland Place has been declared an Urban Enterprise Zone, ripe for redevelopment. Attendees joined one of four 'shortlisted' teams, and entered into competition for the opportunity to redevelop the site. Who would succeed?
The imposing central London location of RIBA and the beautiful setting of the Aston Webb room presented a challenge: how to relax and design freely, uninhibited by the weight of the historic surroundings and watchful eyes of fellow professionals?
Our answer: Role play. Each team was assigned the characteristics of a specific development group, stepping into their shoes and setting personal tastes and priorities aside for the evening.
Team A: Conservationist Excavators
Team B: Hipster Retailers
Team C: Office-Culture Culture-Vultures
Team D: Dense Dwellers
Within each team, individuals were given personality traits; pragmatist, artist, optimist, pessimist and so on. As we hoped, playing a role freed people up to articulate ideas they might not otherwise have put forward if they were playing themselves.
Soon things were humming, an excited chatter spread through the room, and drawings began to appear. Then, once everything seemed to be running smoothly - teams were hit by a curve ball. Teams chose a card at random, each of which changed their brief in a fundamental way. Add a nightclub? An extensive roof garden? More discussions. Plans changed, developed, and evolved.
At the end of the evening, teams presented their ideas to a panel drawn from the fictional ‘Lesser London Authority’, and a vote was taken to decide the winning team. The prizes... were waiting for them at the bar.
The event was held at RIBA London's 'Tuesday Late' event as part of the exhibition 'Creation from Catastrophe'. Special thanks to Alex Marinescu from the University of Kent for co-facilitating.