We adopt Conviviality as a design approach to co-design new inclusive, playful, experimental and collective spaces.

We use the classroom as a space to explore the collective digestion of ideas and projects, whilst the kitchen serves us as a speculative laboratory and environemnt for experimentation and the creation of new scenarios where the sensorial and emotional experience of colour, shape, tactile explorations, smell and taste play a crucial role.  

s, strategies, and most importantly, spaces.

Conviviality as Spatial Practice

In The Art of Gathering (2018), author Priya Parker describes how humans are built to come together, especially in the most crucial moments of our civic and collective living: ‘Why do we gather? We gather to solve problems we can’t solve on our own. We gather to celebrate, to mourn, and to mark transitions. We gather to make decisions. We gather because we need one another. We gather to show strength. We gather to honour and acknowledge. We gather to build companies and schools and neighbourhoods. We gather to welcome, and we gather to say goodbye.’ The purposes, methods, tools and spaces of our gatherings, whether designed or not, have defined societies, social rituals, ways of living, and therefore the ways in which we also make our cities. In an exploration of social spaces, we wish to explore what is Convivial. Amongst other interpretations - from Spanish la convivencia, or better “peaceful coexistence in difference” to the Italian in convivialità, which translates in “spending time in friendship (enjoying a meal)” to the French convivialité, which describes “the ability to cohabit, also as immigrant societies”. Drawing from these traditional definitions, we reinterpret conviviality as ‘the ability of individuals to interact creatively and autonomously with others and their environment to satisfy their own needs’. It is this connection between the autonomous and creative individual and the collective that we wish to investigate. The “convivial society”, according to philosopher and theorist Ivan Illich, is governed by the fundamental values of guaranteed survival for all, distributive justice, generalised participation, autonomous and creative work and free access to community tools and goods (Illich, 1973). Almost half a century has passed since Illich theorised a new socially and ecologically responsible approach towards society, economy and  architecture, and the ideas he presented are now more than ever relevant and full of hope. Contemporary phenomena and struggles which affect us all, from a global pandemic to a fast evolving climate crisis, highlight how it is essential to rethink our relationship between one-another and between humans and the environment. We intend to investigate contemporary rituals of commonality in the city, and the theoretical territories connected to them. From situated knowledge and vernacular technologies to social rituals, from cultural transformation to forgotten practices, we want to understand what Conviviality means today and what are the Tools which we can co-design; tools being objects, strategies, and most importantly, spaces.

The Architect As the Host

Looking at the architect as a host and facilitator, we seek to explore methodologies that nurture the agency of a place. In the process we re-discovers hidden or forgotten convivial practices to foster a sense of belonging and integration. ‘The architect is no more a miracle worker than a sociologist, neither can create social relations, although under certain favourable conditions they help trends to be formulated. Only social life (praxis) in its global capacity possesses such powers....’ (Right to the city, Lefebvre, 1968). Our teaching practice hopes to develop a space for learning and sharing knowledge which is underpinned by mutual exchange and sense of community. The “host” holds a key role in our teaching methodology, as this figure acts as the agent who creates the space for conversation, participation and exchange. In learning how to become hosts, students and tutors are asked to take ownership of their individual values, interests and personal research subjects, to be then shared with colleagues, tutors and the wider community.

The Ordinary and the Unexpected

Reflecting over Suzanne Halls’ notion of social change that builds on the apparently “banal dimension of the ordinary”, we hope to disclose the ways in which the ordinary can be adopted and modified into the unexpected as a key instrument to instigate a cultural and political process of renewal and reconfiguration (Suzanne Hall, 2015). We intend to experiment with design settings that enable us to be both guests and hosts, where power dynamics give way to circularity and a multi-directional curiosity. In this way we investigate the potential to subvert traditional relationships, giving a different socio-political meaning to the notion of hospitality. Here ‘guests’ are agents who create conditions that help us repurpose space, through the experience they have with others. In this manner we wish to dig deep into the “rich compost” of ideas, skills, knowledge, and fields of expertise surrounding conviviality as a spatial practice, threading new ways for collective learning that investigates, assimilates and digests the knowledge embedded in local ecosystems.

Food, rituals and the performative

Tracing back to the Latin term  "convivium", meaning "banquet", Conviviality suggests “a full-bellied joviality”. On an etymological level, the concept of Conviviality refers to the food that serves life: the daily bread. If food lies at the basis of human survival, the way in which food is consumed and shared outlines the traits of culture identity and social rituals. Intimate, performative, shared and mimetic, the act of sharing food becomes the tool that allows us to go beyond preconceived ideas and limiting beliefs, allowing us to create new possibilities and scenarios. From the most intimate to the most communal scale of encounter, we intend to use food as a means to test thresholds, boundaries and connections between objects, bodies and settings.