Creative Change : An investigation of how creative places can strengthen the schools and communities in socio-economically challenged areas

University essay from Umeå universitet/Arkitekthögskolan vid Umeå universitet

Abstract: To be creative or innovative is a highly praised trait within the labor market of today. Though it has often been seen as a talent only granted to a chosen few, most evidence imply that it is something that we all possess and can develop. Creativity within education also appears to have positive impacts on school-results, attendance and confidence among students. Yet creativity has a low status within the current education system, making the opportunities to develop our creative ability insufficient.  Architectural projects and development strategies focused around creativity have occurred frequently on the agenda since the release of Richard Floridas book “The Rise of the Creative Class” in 2002. An increase of creative activity has been linked to growth but lately also to gentrification, as if this was an inevitable result. The focus has been on economic growth and increased tourism, instead of what creativity can bring to the individual and the community.  This thesis aims to answer two main questions: First, how can creative places benefit the schools and communities in socio-economically challenged areas? Second, how can these creative places best be designed to achieve these benefits? Creative places refer in this thesis to public spaces that encourages creativity, which can be places for creative production but also places for experiencing creative works of others. The aim is also to implement the learnings into a design proposal, where the area Vivalla in Örebro is chosen as the site for implementation. In order to answer the first question, the paper examines the existing conditions of vulnerable areas in Sweden and some of the available research on creativity in relation to education. To gain knowledge about design aspects four existing projects that aims to be places for creativity are analyzed. The local conditions of Vivalla are mainly researched through qualitative methods of observation, interviews and a workshop with students from the local school. Finally, the ideas and findings are implemented into a design-proposal, which is a vision for a new creative platform. Rather than a finished project, the proposal should be seen as a vision showing the potentials of the site that can be used as a basis for discussion with the local actors, This paper provides some useful arguments to why creative places in socio-economically challenged areas are worth investing in and highlights the importance of an inclusive development process. Finally, it also provides a diverse view of one of Sweden’s most segregated areas. 

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