occursus, SKINN and Art in the Park at Furnace Park

In late 2013-early 2014, the Furnace Park (FP) team plan to work with Art in the Park to develop a series of one-day spring and summer events for the local community at Furnace Park. Participants will create their own micro habitats – tents, dens, domes and huts – in artist-led workshops, using modular plans developed by architects (including SKINN) working with FP. Promoting play, exploration, the use of natural and found materials and team work we will bring back the den-making children experienced in common land in the not so distant past. The project connects with the work of Olive Schreiner, a writer and activist associated with the 19th-century Sheffield Commonwealth Café, research on and the ‘reactivation’ of which constitute a key strand of activity in the FP project. Schreiner explored nest building as a model for collective living and community engagement in her writing and we wish to invite local communities to build their own micro-habitats and reflect on some of the ideas generated by the Sheffield Socialists at the turn of the century. The cross-cutting combination of artists, architects and researchers from the Faculty of Arts will guarantee innovative and interdisciplinary outputs. The project is deeply participative and inclusive, drawing in all age ranges from a variety of communities across Sheffield and the region.

Participants will be encouraged to bring their own materials, as well as use our locally sourced resources to create story dens, hiding places, meeting spaces and other universes in Furnace Park.

The events will be themed each week to develop usage of a multitude of materials and construction techniques. Students will be on hand to support with the construction and safety elements of these mini building sites, providing a “how to” guide relating to each theme and a list of willing providers of unwanted materials in the locality to encourage building adventures beyond this project.

We aim to provide the tools, ideas and skills for people to use their common land creatively and safely; to encourage working together as a group or family and promote calculated risk taking.

Through open source resources we will create a platform for further exploration of micro-habitats to develop; construction photos, film and audio footage, step by step guides and the list of providers will all be available. As a final celebration we will create a micro habitat take over; for one day only we will promote construction across the city, in common land, back gardens and local spaces- creating a pop up community of mini spaces. Photos and film footage will be uploaded to the site.

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