Rowan Arts volunteer Julia Peintner gives her account of ‘Universettee’ at this year’s Holloway Arts Festival.

Universettee took place from 6 - 8.00 pm on 3 June 2014 at Cypher House, N7 

This time, Universettee - a mobile lecture series of talks and discussions happening in people’s homes - took place at the Cypher house in Holloway. The house, being a great and special piece of architecture, fitted very well to the theme of the talk that was about to start: “New Life at Roof Top Level in Stockholm” by the architect Fred London, director of JTP architects.

The participants, amongst them other architects, friends, students and the hosts of the event, found themselves on the chairs and sofas in the modern, open living room of the house, with drinks and snacks when the talk started. On one wall, spreads of photos were displayed where Fred started explaining and talking about the projects that they did and are doing in Sweden.

The aim of the first project in Stockholm was to develop a street on Södermalm Island called Hornbruksgatan. The transformation of the area included new housing, converting the “brutalist” tube station called the Bunker, as well as new housing and generally making the area more attractive.

Fred and Debbie, a freelance community planner for JTP, then talked about the “Participating Planning Technique”, a special technique that “process has never failed”. The team uses it for all their projects to work and interact with people who might be affected by the architectural changes that are about to happen. People are welcome to participate with post-it-notes in three different stages ISSUES, DREAMS and SOLUTIONS. The post it notes get put on the wall for an overview and lead to questions, discussions and eventually solutions. For the architects it is a simple but brilliant way to get an insight in what people’s concerns and wishes are.

This method was also used in Stockholm for Hornbruksgatan for which the local community was invited to participate. Results were concrete walls covered in green and rooftop restaurants.

At the moment, JTP is working on another project in Sweden, a lakeside town expansion called Vasby Sjostad.

As an ending of the talk, the “Participating Planning Technique” got actually tested with the participants of the lecture about regenerating the local Holloway Road – with refreshing ideas as results: A tree-filled street with less traffic, more space for pedestrians, a river flowing down in the middle, and generally a better connection between the North and South of the Road.


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