A handbook – how to create a socially active place?

Silesia Park – A plan to implement a Park Cultural Centre in the Hat Exhibition Hall.

The Exhibition Hall designed by Jerzy Gottfried was built in Silesia Park in 1968. It hosted numerous exhibitions, fairs, sports and social events. Until now it remains a unique place in Chorzów. 

 Silesia Park has started works with the aim to modernise the historical Hat hall and to re-open it as a Park Cultural Centre. 

 Along with the modernisation, the program for the new institution to be seated in the Hat hall is being developed.

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Work methods

Design Thinking

Looking for a solution for the Hat hall project was based on the design thinking approach. As far as methodology is concerned, design thinking consists of a few stages – starting from discovering and researching the subject matter, defining the key problems and generating ideas, to prototyping them, evaluating and introducing corrections.

Double Diamond

Each of the diamonds – rotated squares – represents a divergence process (expanding the number of data, possibilities or ideas) and a convergence process (making choices). This is how our work was carried out – from looking for a wide range of information to data selection and choosing the basis for further work.

Design challenge

How to perk up the Hat? 
What brings such places to life?
We were invited to cooperate within the scope of work from defining the types of services that could be carried out in the Hat hall all the way through to its modernisation. 

We decided that the scope of work would include research and analyses of the area where the Park Cultural Centre was supposed to operate, defining the basic problems to be solved, generating ideas related to the future programme of the institution and their evaluation.  Moreover we decided to involve external experts who would support the project at its different stages.

Tools

Discovery 
 • desk research – analiza dokumentów, benchmarking, analiza dostępnych raportów; 
• ankiety opisowe wypełniane przez ekspertów z różnych dziedzin; 
• indywidualne wywiady pogłębione z ekspertami z obszaru kultury oraz z przedstawicielami organizacji pozarządowych; 
• analiza trendów.
Development 
 •  internal workshops – creating solutions; 
•  proposal of values; 
•  workshops with experts in various fields; 
•  feedback – confronting the results of workshops with the concepts assumed so-far; 
•  consultation of the document with experts.
Defining 
 •  internal workshops – synthesizing information; 
•  analysis of insights; 
•  Why, How, What; 
•  defining the key challenges.
Implementation 
 • rekomendacje odnośnie programu; 
• plan wdrożenia; 
• przykładowe scenariusze; 
• Next Steps.

Target groups

Our recommendations include targeting groups which can participate in some activities before noon during the week such as senior citizens, parents with young children, pupils (organised groups). We also suggest creating a group of „ambassadors” who represent individuals – the potential customers/participants (involved in advising, networking, acting). Specific users will also be taken into account, i.e. those who can use the offer only once.

Workshops and interviews

Experts in various fields were included in the working process, to facilitate it and verify the proposed solutions. We also involved representatives of non-governmental organisations associated with the Park, which enabled us to find out about the needs and expectations of the potential target groups.
We invited experts from different fields to participate in the work process, whose aim was to provide support and to verify the worked out assumptions. We also engaged representatives of some NGOs connected with the Park, which allowed us to discover the needs and expectations of potential target groups.

Conclusions

The worked out model reversed our earlier requirements, whereby the task usually presented at the beginning – i.e. what was to be done in the Park Cultural Centre – in fact became the final element resulting from other activities. The activity will be secondary and will result from the specific values and ideas of the person managing the place. Passion will depend on the person appointed to run the institution.

Diagram

Diagram – instructions for creating active social space.
Values 
based on the vision and conditioning of the place as well as strategic guidelines
Recommendations 
an open set of a few dozen recommendations included in the report
Passion 
shown by the managing person and their team, supported by insights

Supplementing the diagram – Park Cultural Centre

Recommendations

Taking into account the research and analyses as well as the conclusions formulated based on them, we prepared 21 recommendations as the basis for starting up the Park Cultural Centre. They have been divided based on the diagram of creating the programme and supplemented with the description of activities that should be undertaken within the scope of each of the recommendations.

Recommendation 1.
The multifunctional space is used for parallel activities

Considering a multifunctional offer, it is a good idea to break the traditional division into different types of activities: music, art, literary. Interdisciplinary activities can be focused for instance on a specific subject or problem. Blurring the divisions between the different disciplines and creating such forms of activities that focus more on varied creative expression and social integration will allow people from different groups to enjoy doing certain activities together and in this way also to use the modernised facility more efficiently.

Recommendation 2. 
Democratisation is one way to popularise a space

Considering a multifunctional offer, it is a good idea to break the traditional division into different types of activities: music, art, literary. Interdisciplinary activities can be focused for instance on a specific subject or problem. 

 Blurring the divisions between the different disciplines and creating such forms of activities that focus more on varied creative expression and social integration will allow people from different groups to enjoy doing certain activities together and in this way also to use the modernised facility more efficiently.

Recommendation 3. 
Opening the wall

One of the most fundamental values of the Park Cultural Centre is the context of the Park and the surrounding nature. The facility should be integrated with its surroundings and the spaces of the Park and the hall should merge into one. 

This would be possible by means of e.g. an openable wall from the south-east, which would allow some of the activity to „spill” onto the surrounding meadow, outside the hall. Moreover, the Park can “enter” the hall e.g. by using lots of plants blurring the border between the Hat hall and the surrounding nature.
marek

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Prototype „The Hat without a Hat”

In order to test the proposed solutions, we recommended preparing the first program (a prototype) before re-opening the Hat hall. This would allow the management to draw conclusions and improve the final version of the program based on the problems that came up.

The report

Taking into account the scope of the project, it was necessary to define the recipients who will use the recommendations contained in the document.  

These are the Silesia Park Management Board and the person engaged to manage the Park Cultural Centre, for whom the report  will be useful in creating the programme for the newly set-up institution.

Presentation and further steps

The presentation took place in the head office of the Silesia Park Management Board. It was attended by representatives of non-governmental organisations, journalists, experts, employees of Silesia Park and its Management Board. The report presents in a clear way the first steps that need to be taken. We do hope that once the Director of the Park Cultural Centre has been appointed, the Hat will function as a socially active space even without a revitalised head office.

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