Liveable Neighbourhoods is a Sustrans project that brings communities together to help them redesign their streets, putting people at their heart and making them safer and more attractive places to live. In many projects artists have been invited to join the design team to work with residents to create unique and distinctive elements integrated into the new street layouts such as gateways, seats and surface finishes. The first project of this type to be completed together with artists was The Ding Home Zone in Bristol.
Working with artists in street redesign is an excellent way to help cement community identity, generate interest and inspire activity across the race, gender and age range of the community. For this reason, Sustrans Art Programme has worked closely with the Liveable Neighbourhood team and local resident to involve the community in the process of commissioning and design of artwork to complement their street redesign. In each case this has been a rigorous process - working with the residents at every state to develop an artist's brief, advertise and invite artists to submit their portfolios, shortlist and interview candidates.
As part of Liveable Neighbourhoods, DIY Street schemes each artist is briefed to talk to individuals and research local history in order to gather essential qualities about the community and develop proposals for the street design. These are presented to all the residents for their comments and agreement before the commission finally goes ahead.
It is an open and inclusive process encouraging discussion and exchange of ideas at every point - it enables many people to take part and ensures that ideas and designs are developed with greatest possible participation. Opinions are very subjective, sometimes disagreements arise, are debated and resolved - always with enthusiasm and passion since most people care deeply about their immediate environment.