Lets Sort It Out (LSIO) and Calithorpe Living Lab

Jane Penty

Lets Sort It Out (LSiO) and Calthorpe Living Lab are two local community facing projects that year two students and staff on BA Product Design at Central Saint Martins (CSM) were involved in between January and June 2016. Both projects involved groups of eighteen students and adopted a Human Centred Design approach with varying levels of co-design and were located within the curriculum unit of ‘User behaviours and experiences’.

The first, LSiO, was a collaboration with Camden Council’s Environmental Services facilitated by the Public Collaboration Lab at CSM. The challenge put to the students was: are there design interventions that can help increase our residents’ engagement with recycling and decrease the cross-contamination of waste streams? Apart from the obvious environmental and social imperative, the Council pays £50/ton more for their non-recycled waste, so pragmatically in the context of public sector cuts, increasing recycling means more money for other services. The students worked with residents on two council estates, Chalcott, a high-rise estate and Kilburn Vale, a low-rise estate.

The second project was with the Calthorpe Living Lab, a pioneering urban closed-loop model acting as both an educational resource and an inspiration for it’s community users and visitors to reflect and act on issues around food, waste and sustainability. The Living Lab is fully integrated into the Calthorpe Project (Gray’s Inn Road) building on its thirty years as a local resource and oasis serving all ages and sectors of the community. Students were asked to use their design skills to create a clear message about the Living Lab’s closed-loop system and an engaging experience for visitors and regular user groups through all it’s physical touch points: the café, food growing areas and micro-anaerobic digester, to ensure a thriving and viable model of urban resilience.