Uscreates WorkshopNext Inside Design on 03-05-2017 /

Stations and Social Innovation

Using public participation in the re-imagining of stations in the 21st Century. Project Director, Cat Drew shares her London to Paris experience of presenting to delegates (in French) at the Gares Conference, hosted by 27e Régione. Cat summarises learnings and insights from a project she worked on with DfT and Policy Lab about the Future of Rail.

As I stepped onto the new Eurostar to Paris, I was very aware of the way my experience was making me feel. My transport app had told me how long I needed to get to the station, I had been clearly signposted through the station and I had a seat allocated in advance so I didn’t need to stand. This was different from some of the experiences of people that we had spent time with during a project I worked on with DfT and Policy Lab about the Future of Rail, which I had been asked to come and talk about the ‘Stations and Social Innovation’ conference in Paris.

It was a hugely innovative project because not only did it understood passenger’s current journeys by – well, taking that journey with them, but also because it used speculative design – imaging future scenarios and making objects from them – to get feedback from the public about what they did and didn’t want. It was also new or innovative for me, because for the first time since learning French at uni, I decided to give my presentation in French! The conference, hosted by La 27e Région was fascinating because it showcased examples of public participation in the re-imagining of stations in the 21st century.

By working with local communities, or commuters, train stations are being transformed from quiet rural stations into tourist hubs, connecting to onwards bicycles, or from commuter thoroughfares to destinations of commerce in their own right.. And being France, it all ended with a highly philosophical discussion about the physiological role of the station in modern society!