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Learning about Moss: Forming Communities of Inquiry

Hester Medi Rowe Buck

The Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University

South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership, Arts and Humanities Research Council

Question Journal, 2021. Issue 6 (2021), pp. 54-55.



The term community, when applied to socially engaged projects, often encompasses a range of different motivations for people to come together. It rarely describes a harmonious group, but instead an ever-changing set of individuals, with different interests and reasons for taking part. Looking at the participatory design of a moss wall around the community garden at R-urban, in London, the paper will explore how different understandings of the term community came together through meetings, events and workshops, as a designed process of engagement.

The site of the project, defined a community of location, made up of residents. The community garden wall was designed in response to the poor air quality within the area, collaborating with a community of concern, made up of activists and academics. The wall was tested through construction workshops, attracting volunteers interested in learning about DIY as well as air quality, building a diverse community of practice. These different communities came together to learn about the wall through experimental prototypes, as a community of enquiry.

The paper will reflect on the success and failures of different engagement strategies to target specific groups, exploring unexpected moments of engagement and the challenges of apathy and misunderstanding. It will explore how these events enabled people to move between different understandings of the term community, through the engagement in design and the legacy of the objects produced. This has the potential to develop a longer-term collective concern for such a project and this community can in turn support behaviour change, informing an individual’s urban mobility.




 Air Quality, Participation, Actor Network Theory, Moss, Community of Practice 

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