Bristol Living Lab is not a single building but a series of connected activities dispersed across a range of environments, from innovation hubs and public spaces to homes and gardens – innovation happening everywhere, every day, for everyone.
Living Lab activity is supported and coordinated by Knowle West Media Centre, a non-profit organisation with 25 years’ experience of working with communities to understand how digital technologies can be utilised to meet local needs and develop creative models for positive social change.
Bristol Living Lab not only explores the needs of specific people and places, it involves collaborating with communities and Living Labs across the UK and the world, sharing knowledge and resources for the common good.
Bristol Living Lab activity takes many forms, including:
– supporting organisations and institutions to reflect on their current practice to help them build more positive relationships with communities
– offering a series of residencies that have brought artists and communities together to develop an alternative, arts-led approach to ‘regeneration’ and urban development
– supporting people to develop ‘citizen sensing’ projects, where they gather information about topics that are important to them in order to create more understanding of the issue and enable change
Bristol Living Lab is underpinned by the The Bristol Approach, a way of working developed by KWMC with Bristol City Council and Ideas for Change, that puts citizens and communities at the heart of an initiative to ensure that innovation has a positive social impact and meets local need.
Bristol Living Lab is a member of the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL).
We’re keen to explore how sharing knowledge and experiences across the city, and beyond, can benefit organisations and the communities they collaborate with. We regularly work with organisations in Bristol, across the UK and internationally to put on events, develop ideas for projects, and deliver training.
We have collaborated with Universities to: engage people in the co-design and testing of new technologies, write papers, develop live briefs for student projects in community contexts, provide user case studies for new research, embed researchers into projects to write evaluative papers, and jointly apply for research funding.
– provide consultation and training in how to engage and work with communities, thereby increasing the public engagement impact
– share our citizen-led, co-design approaches through participating in panel discussions and symposiums
– form research partnerships
The Bristol Approach received a Good Practice award from URBACT in 2017, demonstrating that the approach is highly regarded as transferable and highly beneficial practice for cities looking to engage and empower their citizens and become more resilient through processes of co-design and mass participation.
Bristol City Council are funders and advocates of The Bristol Approach and we have collaborated with local authorities by working together on funding bids, sharing learning at talks and conferences, and collaborating on publications.
We have also:
– provided consultation and training for staff in how to: engage and work with communities and apply the principles and phases of The Bristol Approach when uncovering issues, engaging citizens, designing solutions and making sense of data
– developed case studies that demonstrate both how citizen sensing projects can enable citizens to become more active in creating positive change and how people are interacting with council data tools
We have over twenty years’ experience of working with artists to develop and expand their practice through residencies and commissions to make new work with communities and in community contexts.
We often encourage and enable practitioners to work across disciplines and experiment with new art forms, allowing emerging artists to flourish whilst also supporting established artists experienced in socially engaged and digital arts practice.
We are currently working to the following priorities:
Supporting people to create the neighbourhoods and city they want through a citizen sensing programme that includes developing a ‘city commons approach’, ensuring open access to digital assets.
Creating opportunities for training and skills development, particularly in data literacy and digital manufacturing.
Developing innovative solutions to sustainability and environmental issues.
Building resilient communities and developing ideas about how we might live in the future.
We want to ensure that everyone, particularly individuals and groups at risk of social and digital exclusion, are supported to become active citizens with equal access to the city’s opportunities. We regularly act as a ‘broker’ between citizens and organisations, ensuring that each participant in a project is able to contribute their knowledge and experience.
If you’re interested in finding out more or working with us, we’d love to hear from you!