Cardiff in 2020: An ARK LAB view

July 14, 2010 No Comments »

ARKADE empty shops weekend 2-4 july

Recently we set a number of community groups a challenge of ‘Imagining Cardiff’. The workshop took place during our empty shop project ARKADE at the start of July. The question was a simple one. What will / should Cardiff be in 2020?

For us as a group of artists, designers, doers this question was hugely important to how we can bring these hopes and ideas into being. The group’s that were set the challenge, all without exception, instantly drilled down to multi-purpose social community spaces. Places that allowed knowledge exchanges and skill transfers. These social spaces ranged from ‘HUB in the PUB’ through to a Cathays social club which included a city farm and places to grow your own food. For us it was great to hear the thoughts and ideas of people involved in the shaping of Cardiff, and luckily they were very much in keeping with the thoughts behind our empty shop project.

So for us what do we want for 2020? Well we would hope for a number of things. We think it is important for people to see their skills and knowledge in an economic sense, so people can exchange through time banking systems rather than solely monetary. We also feel there will be  a need to do more voluntary work, so we can help ourselves rather than relying solely on the state. This new engagement will hopefully allow for new cross community projects which will allow for a richer Cardiff. We believe that ‘dead spaces’ should/could be given to communities to allow them to pilot and prototype projects which can further inform how our built environment is evolving. We believe that design and in particular social design can have a role in helping people co-design their new spaces that would ultimately increase pride in their city and instill a belief that we can ‘do’.

I hope we can make at least some of these ideas into reality in the next few years.

This is part of a series of guest posts imagining Cardiff in 2020. This series was inspired by the workshop held by design group thinkARK as part of their Empty Shops Project. This is a guest post from Julian Sykes on behalf of thinkARK, a group dedicated to improving Wales through social design.

If you’d like to take part in the Cardiff 2020 series, drop an email to

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