On November 25th we brought the key players in our social lab Liebes Kreta together to look back on a year of cross-border learning, designing and prototyping and ask ourselves the big question: what happens next?
In the spring of 2016, Porticus Vienna came to our office to discuss their big ambition: to transform ++AnkerbrotfabrikThe Ankerbrotfabrik is an old bread factory in the Viennese 10th district. It used to be Austria’s largest bread factory, employing thousands of people, many of them local residents. The factory was emptied long ago, having moved its plant to outside the city. Read here more about the history of the Ankerbotfabrik. into a breeding place for community arts, grounded in the needs and desires of the surrounding neighbourhood in the 10th district, popularly called ++KretaHere you find more information about this neighbourhood (in German). . After exchanging thoughts and ideas we concluded with a shared question: what if we could design and host a social lab around this ambition?
Shortly after, Kennisland teamed up with Remko Berkhout, our local affiliate, to start laying the foundations of what would become Liebes Kreta, our first social arts lab. Kennisland teamed up with a local affiliate, to start laying the foundations of what would become Liebes Kreta, our first social arts lab. Getting to know the building and its users, the neighbourhood and the people who would soon become our local lab team – and introducing them to our methodology. With a team of six we ventured into our lab’s first steps of story collection and analysis. The first visible achievement being the Exhibition in the factory, that made a strong case for our lab approach because it attracted a huge and diverse crowd to the building, to read and reflect on the stories from the people in our neighbourhood.
Out of these stories came a number of grand themes that evoked further connections with local players and citizens and were the foundation of a series of ideation and prototyping rounds. We designed and tested, among other things, a pet enthusiast club, a women’s gathering, a local shop & service concept, a local Olympiad, and a social alternative to gambling. The team made huge efforts to set up local testing rounds, learning a lot about how these ideas resonate with the locals, how people might become co-owners and discarding versions that did not work. The team made huge efforts to set up local testing rounds, learning a lot about how these ideas resonate with the locals, how people might become co-owners and discarding versions that did not work. Sometimes painful but in the grander scheme of things leading the lab to a better, more grounded and focussed selection of interventions that are promising and have traction in and around the factory.
The Olympiad started small with a group of enthusiasts (the “Kreta Olympic Committee” was born and committed itself to recreating the sporting culture that Kreta was once known for). But it lead to what became the biggest of interventions, with four days of sports and games at and around the factory site, featuring over fifteen different sports contests including a table tennis match that featured a team of Syrian refugees from Graz, weight lifting, soccer and of dancing – including a number of the initiatives that inhabit the factory.
The collected stories further sharply illustrated how betting and gambling have a big negative impact on the lives of Kreta citizens. Together with some of these people, we worked on developing an alternative to the gambling cafés (‘Admiral’ as the most well-known name in gambling served as a welcome anti-hero in this story). What came out, after rounds and rounds of testing and prototyping, was Admirabel: was kostet? [Admirabel: what does it cost?]. It started small and rough as a playful event in the local copy shop before it picked up speed and made it all the way to the illustrious company of ++AdmirabelThe Admirabel entry in the Vienna Design Week was a no-brainer given the nature of the project and the new award category of ‘social design’ of the Week..
Allowing a bit of time to catch some breath after all this effort, we wrapped the Liebes Kreta up with a workshop with everyone around the table who has a stake in taking these great outcomes forward. Kennisland had prepared a number of future scenarios to get the minds set to the time after the lab. The big question to be answered: what happens next? Would Liebes Kreta become embedded in Caritas as a structure to learn, develop and experiment? Would it be made into a separate entity with its own funding, acting as a design partner for initiatives from the neighbourhood and the factory’s organisations? The group felt most energetic about Liebes Kreta as a house brand, making the factory immediately recognisable as the strategic and creative platform for social innovation.The group felt very energetic about Liebes Kreta as a house brand, making the factory immediately recognisable as the strategic and creative platform for social innovation. This is a big achievement for an idea that became a project and now becomes the centerpiece of the factory in the neighbourhood. The building communicating the central message of the social lab: this is a place for exploring new collaborations, give birth to new ideas that have real meaning to the people living around it and welcoming anyone who’d want to put some energy in making it happen.