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+ Project concept 2015

Exploring the model village as a site for
collaborative social creativity and community discourse


model definition
noun: model; plural noun: models

1. 1. a three-dimensional representation of a person or thing or of a proposed structure, typically on a smaller scale than the original.

replica, copy, representation, mock-up, dummy, imitation, double, duplicate, lookalike, reproduction; More: toy, miniature, facsimile

synonyms: replica, toy, miniature, mock-up, dummy, imitation, duplicate, lookalike, reproduction, facsimile; artificial, fake, make-believe, sham, false, spurious, bogus, counterfeit;

2. 2. a thing used as an example to follow or imitate. "the project became a model for other schemes" synonyms: prototype, stereotype, archetype, type, version, style;

The term Model Village originated in the victorian era and used the second definition above - the model as an ideal, as they were real villages which sought to house workers in idyllic conditions.

Now the term describes a recreational place or tourist attraction which is made up of scaled down models of a place or places which together form a model of a village, town or a city. The city can be geographically accurate or might take several real places and bring them together into one model. It is not uncommon for models of imagined buildings or buildings from fiction such as books or tv to feature alongside models of real places.

In their role as recreational spaces or tourist attractions they tend not to provoke critical comment on the spaces they depict. Their appeal comes from their small scale and bright colours, giving them a toy-like appearance. It is possible to see buildings from all over a large area in a short ammount of time by walking through the model. They usually appeal to families and people of all ages.

They m ay have specific appeal to model-makers or train enthusiasts as they often include model railways as part of the attraction. They can also include miniature plants and intricate gardens as part of the process of creating a convincing representation of places and their settings.

This project seeks to explore the possibility of such a model to act as a space for both shared and collaborative creativity and to generate critical discourse about the spaces and places depicted. All cities, towns and villages have contested spaces or spaces with keen community interest perhaps where significant change is about to happen. In these cases there are stakeholders from the community with an interest in the space from a range of contexts, (social, environmental, political, cultural and so on) that need to be consulted. The project will test the possibility of such a model to act as an objective site and testing ground for proposals, speculation and discussion.

The project can be tested and applied on a range of sites. Methods for the construction of the model can be developed to suit both the site and the stakeholders based on a range of factors (time, budget, skills. available materials and so on). It would be possible for stakeholders to create and construct their own models to be situated within the model village or that designs are constructed in discussion with stakeholders by a creative team.

Once complete, a formal series of events, talks and discussions can be organised around the site of the model village using the model and the meta narratives contained within it as a prompt. It is expected that micro and meta narratives will develop in the design, construction and application of the model both intended and unintentional. It is hoped that new models for creative collaboration and community discourse will result from the process.

+ Tours of Beckonscot Model Village as a part of Real vs Ideal for Architecture Week 2005: Exploring the critical micro and meta narratives of the model village.

+ Babbacombe model village in Torquay depicts a range of events that reflect contemporary social contexts. There are joy-riders, boy racers, a fox hunting protest, an illegal rave, a house fire and a traffic accident.