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I'm Sadia Uddin, the Communities Intern at the RSA. At this event as part of RSA Thursday series renowned architect Eric Parry provided us with an insight into his work in redeveloping the St. Martin in-the-fields site in Trafalgar Square. Aside from the information about the rich history of the place, Eric Parry referred to the link between social spaces and connecting people within a community which I found particularly interesting and was eager to know more about.

I'm Sadia Uddin, the Communities Intern at the RSA. At this event as part of RSA Thursday series renowned architect Eric Parry provided us with an insight into his work in redeveloping the St. Martin in-the-fields site in Trafalgar Square. Aside from the information about the rich history of the place, Eric Parry referred to the link between social spaces and connecting people within a community which I found particularly interesting and was eager to know more about.

He said that ‘Architecture should be a framework for social engagement,’- structuring spaces to enable social cohesion within a community, so that members can connect and have a shared sense of culture, norms and values.

For example, the new space includes the Chinese Centre, a homeless shelter and music rehearsal rooms which have been distributed within the church, bringing in a diverse mix of people.

As the Connected Communities programme is about networks between people who share a common need and identity, but also about expanding networks beyond traditional boundaries, it would be interesting to know to what extent the space is designed to facilitate interactions between the different groups who use it.

How do you take into account the opinions of people who use the site and live in the area? Eric Parry noted that the consultation process was ‘enormously complex’, given the range of audiences and needs for the space. I would have loved to find out more about how this consultation was conducted.

Another question brought up by the RSA Design & Society project was about how people can create spaces without being professionals. Eric Parry referred to festivals as excellent examples of social spaces, so this is not just about what architects can do to  create social spaces.

So some of the questions which would be great to hear your views on are: How to enable interactions between different groups using a space such as this one? How is the consultation process for this kind of project designed? What experiences do blog readers have of designing spaces to enable positive interactions?

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