Tours led by people who live in the area had a twofold purpose: to introduce the project team to the chosen localities and to observe which points were highlighted by the local guide. ‘Resident-guides’ described what they find positive and negative in their neighbourhoods, as well as the choice of their personal landmarks, which produced a very valuable set of data about their own perceptions. For example, the history of a local community garden was as important to one of the local guides as the history of the local church, one of the most valuable heritage assets in the area. To show that the value of a personal, subjective opinion is as important as an ‘objective’ one, maps with tour routes were additionally created. The structure of a tour served as a reflection point for residents about how to present their neighbourhood to ‘outsiders’ by sharing personal stories that they selected as important. This added value enhanced a usually neutral (purely functional) site analysis of the built environment, which influenced the planning of our artistic/design interventions.

Tours led by local partners were organised in both neighbourhoods – Sneinton and Carrington. A special tour was organised with Sarah, a very active resident from Carrington. She kindly contributed her photo diary of the community events that have taken place in Carrington over the last ten years (from 2005 to 2015). One of our researchers had a chance to revisit some of those places with her, and documented the current state. Sarah retold these events as she walked around the area. It is worth mentioning that she was not always able to find all the places, and that she could not remember many details. In the final exhibition of the project, the photographs of the past and present Carrington were combined in a sort of agamograph, followed by these questions: How much should I engage? How often? What kind of involvement will make a difference? What kind of action will be visible? Motivating residents to express their subjective points of view of the place where they live, as well as the values they recognise, stressed that they are the ones who are responsible for taking care of those places. Once our ‘outsider’ action is over, future development of the civic action will depend on the community. The artists/designers just mediated an inclusive dialogue about different values and opinions.

<!> Necessary materials: photo camera, audio recorder.

Two big masks made of cardboard were used to create the illusion of ‘time travelling’: one with a drawing of an old face and the other one with a child’s face. Interviewees could choose which one they wanted to speak through. With the ‘old mask’ interviewees were supposed to imagine how their neighbourhood would look like when they grew old: ‘I just turned eighty-two and Carrington is ... ’. With the ‘young mask’ interviewees were supposed to remember how the neighbourhood looked like when they were young.

This exercise was largely avoided by participants because it was very demanding – participants needed to think carefully and to project themselves into the past or into the future. In reflection, it would be more effective if it was used independently, for example, if this was the only question asked during an on-site session. Interviewees need to be previously prepared for this type of exercise.

<!> Necessary materials: cardboard, colours or prints, a camera/phone to film the answers.

Five workshops took place during the final exhibition of the project, in Nottingham Central Library. They were used as a method for stimulating a conversation between different actors about issues that the project wanted to tackle. For each workshop, a set of material prompts was prepared, depending on the questions that the workshop tried to answer. Material prompts served to guide the workshop process and to enable all participants to be active and to have their say.

Workshop 1: Opening and tour (3 September, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.)

Invitation: ‘Come to meet Map Nott participants and discuss various ways of mapping, challenges of community engagement, design methods applied to communication and service design, thinking behind the ways of capturing the identity of communities and places in which they live.’

This workshop offered an opportunity to celebrate, in a more official way (by being in the context of an exhibition), the work that had been done with the communities. Participants were able to see their own contributions, and how their individual efforts had merged with the group effort and ambition.

Workshop 2: Discovering Carrington’s identity (7 September, 5–7 p.m.)

Invitation: ‘In discussion with locals – residents, tenants, organisations, and businesses – we will explore Map Nott’s insights, and work together on creating the agenda for the future period. What is already happening in this small but vibrant area and if there is anything we can do to amplify its positive evolution? How do you imagine your neighbourhood in 2023? Come and take a look into extraordinary everyday life in Carrington and share the ideas and challenges of places in which you live.’


The workshop included several residents, business owners, and local authority members from Carrington, and was conceived around building a future scenario: what could Carrington look like in 2023? What kind of people could be inhabiting Carrington? What kind of actions could lead us to that future? Even though we facilitated the workshop, the discussion, and dissemination of the conversation, this document should be finalised by CTARA members and other interested parties, and it should be used as a guideline for focused community action – a tool for achieving the greatest possible impact. 

Workshop 3: Discovering Sneinton’s identity (14 September, 5–7 p.m.)

Invitation: ‘Come along to see how Sneinton-based community groups, community organisers, and local residents have combined their efforts alongside NTU staff and researchers to create some community furniture – fit for many a purpose! We will be in conversation with representatives from local groups who will be speaking on the evening about their engagement methods and the many challenges they face along the way.’

The workshop included several residents, business owners, and community organisers from Sneinton, Carrington, and The Meadows, as well as researchers and lecturers from Nottingham Trent University. It was conceived as a future scenario building game in which we were imagining together what impact we would like to have on Sneinton’s identity in the future, which resources we currently have in our hands, and which actions will lead us towards desired futures. Hopefully, this document will be edited and finalised by any of the interested parties and used as a guideline for focused community action, as a tool for achieving the greatest possible impact. Additionally, Discovering Sneinton’s Identity served to create a new community service around kNott – community furniture designed and built as part of Mapping Nottingham’s Identity project. We tried to identify person(s) interested in managing the distribution and sharing of kNott pieces, as well as its future evolution through other projects.

Workshop 4: Participation in art, architecture, and design (28 September, 5–7 p.m.)

Invitation:Open discussion and talk among professionals interested in participation, as well as for people willing to contribute to the project in the future. What is co-creation in architecture, art, and design? What is the role of an expert in a participatory process? Is there a place for community engagement in education? What are the lessons we learned from Map Nott? What are our next steps?’

This workshop included a tour of the exhibition, as well as a summary of the workshops and methods used thus far. It was important to share this information, since the future of the project was at the core of the discussion. Key stakeholders, such as Nottingham Heritage Partnership or Sneinton Market, were present and willing to promote future collaborations.

Workshop 5: Welcome week workshops (27 and 29 September)

Three workshops were held as part of the NTU Welcome Week – one with master’s students and two with bachelor’s students. The workshop with the master’s students (group of fifteen) was focused on methodology; during the tour, different methods were demonstrated and emphasised. The workshops with the bachelor’s students – eighty students in each group – started with an interactive embodied exercise about communication after which students created a collaborative drawing, based on the ‘drawology’ method (see the video below).


Interviewees imagined that they represent the neighbourhood (or a specific street or building), and we asked three questions:

(1) Hi. To start with, can you tell me how you feel? (2) What would you like to be when you grow up? (3) What do you love most about yourself?

The personification of an urban area served to change the perspective of interviewees in relation to the built environment.

<!> Necessary materials: a camera and a house to put on interviewee’s head (see the photo below).





<identifying motivation and need through play>

Interview with the neighbourhood itself

(changing roles)

Time travelling

<identifying motivation and need through play>

‘Resident-guided’ tours. Building on local expertise and participant observation

<performative mapping>

<facilitating dialogue and collaboration>


The museum of the present was developed as a direct response to the personal mapping exercise – places that people mentioned the most in the collaborative map were additionally explored. Each place was represented through one particular object:

1. A piece of playground bark from the pirate park (coloured in blue because ships need water to sail)

2. Plants from the community garden

3. Gravel from the churchyard, laid by the local community; a cup from the church community centre

4. Pots from a local potter, made in his famous pottery classes

5. Attendance sheet from monthly Tenants’ and Residents’ Association meetings

6. Beer mats from the local pub, the Gladstone

7. Brick found under concrete flooring in one of the local organisations involved in heritage and sustainability sector, Double T

8. Tamagotchi, brought up from locals’ memories – part of the project of the above-mentioned organisation

9. Rim lock from a local reclamation yard

10. Plaster from a construction site in the area on which a new business hub is in construction

11. Community note and a price tag from the local Co-op

12. Air from the underpass – a community project loved by the locals

13. Tile from a bench – a community project loved by the locals

14. Chocolate and coffee from the cheese shop

These objects represent the present time of the neighbourhood, and in the future they will become references of the past. This collection was created to raise questions about the importance of our everyday actions and routines. The power of interpretation that is one of the main skills of an artist or desiner has an enormous potential. Moreover, we wanted to question the idea of showcasing heritage in a museum: who decides what is worth being exhibited?


Each interviewee was asked to finish writing the sentence ‘I’m really good at ... ’, written on a small blackboard, and then they were photographed while holding their statements (written on the board). This exercise served to inspire community action and positive attitudes.

<!> Necessary materials: blackboard, chalk, photo camera.

The material outcome of the community consultation process (section 13) was a design for community furniture kNott. We took part in a very popular local festival (Sneinton festival) to present this idea and to test the concept in communication with the wider public. The stall at the festival was designed to describe the process of making kNott and to test the furniture units. We organised two ‘games’ around kNott – which were part of our methodology. One was the puzzle game – a competition in which teams competed to assemble a map of Sneinton drawn on top of several kNott pieces. Another test was asking people to assemble the furniture in whichever way they liked – some made a bench, a bar, a bed, a train, a car, or even a house. This proved that the furniture can indeed be combined in many different ways and that it is playful, safe, and attractive. It also served to investigate its potential use.

A specially designed focus group was organised as a community consultation session in which previously interviewed members of community organisations (see section 9) discussed and decided upon a final furniture design solution. The project team developed five different design proposals. They were represented in the form of models made of recycled MDF – ‘crafty’ objects were made with a purpose to provoke interaction

During the explanation of all five solutions, participants wrote their thoughts on pieces of paper. After placing all these comments around solution ideas (models), someone read them aloud and that served as a start of a discussion. It was not hard to achieve agreement since the comments were very realistic and practical (e.g., transportation of pieces, permissions for installation in public spaces, etc). 

The role of an artist/designer was not to represent his or her ideas; kNott furniture was developed through a co-creation process, so the most important part of the artist‘s/designer’s role was to mediate different opinions and to facilitate productive communication. The use of pieces of paper for personal notes gave an equal voice to all participants. After placing the pieces of paper around the models, one of the participants (the closest one to the model in focus) would read out each person’s opinion so the discussion was led by the group itself. 


‘Can you draw a map of your Carrington? A house where you live, places that you visit the most, your neighbour, a couch where your cat sometimes spends the night on ... ’

Walking through the neighbourhood or during local events, we asked people who live or work in the area to draw a map of their neighbourhood from memory. Gathered data was used to see what people in the area see as important, what their perception is of the identity of a particular place, what they usually do in the area and with whom they are connected. Collected maps (forty-seven of them) were combined into a collage that was exhibited in the final exhibition of the project. Moreover, prints of this collective map were distributed to participants creating new tangible heritage, and a new memory about something they drew together with their neighbours.

This map was displayed besides the map of heritage assets and historic places in Carrington (click here to see the image in full size), showing the information from Carrington History Trail, which was made in association with the Carrington Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, Terry Fry, and Nottingham City Council. The overlaps between the ‘imaginary’ map made of memories and perceptions, and the ‘real’ map are very few.  Residents may remember the past but do they find connections with heritage assets? The identity of places is constantly changing over time. How can we synchronise our past with our present? How can an artist/designer mediate the importance of this connection? How can we create new meanings, memories, and attachments with the built environment?

In the ‘imaginary’ map, the names of some streets appeared written several times, while some other places are not acknowledged at all. For example, a care home that is built on a large plot on the main pedestrian trajectory, very well organised and active in the area, did not appear on any of the subjective maps. As an isolated function with a high wall around the building, it probably does not appear to the neighbourhood as part of it. This result would lead to further questions on inclusivity and mixed use, isolated and segregated places.

Personal mapping as a method was repeated in another location, as a way to understand the validity of this research method. This map was drawn in Hillbrow, one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Johannesburg (see the second window below). Participants were asked to draw personal spaces and objects, which were further combined with their perception of the street matrix. Another collaborative map shows their perceptions and engagement with the Outreach Foundation. There was a clear difference between these three maps. While in Carrington people were interested in sharing where they spend their personal time (i.e., the park, the pub, the shops, or even their own houses), the map of Hillbrow only offers a very neutral vision of the space: all street names are included, but none of them includes any personal references. In contrast, the map of the Outreach Foundation is much richer, since this is a safe place where the participants feel at ease: they are learning and supporting each other.

We will continue to produce collaborative maps based on personal perceptions: we believe the information created by participants is very rich, and offers qualities that other more ‘neutral’ maps cannot possibly offer. They are biased, they are subjective, and that is mostly why we are interested in them.

<!> Necessary materials: MDF board & a clip, A4 paper print, pen.





<curatorial intervention>

Museum of the present

<identifying motivation and need through play>

Defining "action!"

<performative mapping>

Personal mapping

<identifying motivation and need through play>

Focus group

– community consultation event

<identifying motivation and need through play>

Public experiment

(Sneinton festival)



Semi-structured interviews were conducted with community organisers to design a brief for a community shared structure. Interviews were fifteen to thirty minutes long, usually taking place in the office of the interviewee. The project team was divided into groups of two or three – usually one or two students and a senior researcher. This was also a way to familiarise students with social research methods.

Interview questions (see below) included a picture set that was used to facilitate the conversation.

Interview guide:

1. Cards with pictures of different community structures were used as a conversation starter (inspirational cards). They were shown at the beginning of the interview and discussed with the interviewees (see pictures below).

2. What space do you usually choose for activities and events that you organise (size, inside/outside)?

3. How many people attend your activities?

4. Who is your audience/ participants?

5. Where do they come from? Sneinton?

6. Can you say, by using verbs, what people usually do during your activities (singing, eating, etc.)?

7. Which objects would you need to organise something (table, stage, etc.)?

8. Can you think of an event/activity that you particularly like … ?

9. Would you like to help with building and designing this structure?

10. Do you have/know about any material available in this area?

At the end of the interview we informed the interviewee about the upcoming consultation session, on which the project team would present design proposals. 

<!> Necessary materials: pen and paper for taking notes, a set of inspirational cards, paper with questions, photo camera, audio recorder.

During a research phase in Sneinton, this playful type of quick interview was conducted during local events and meetings. Similar to the Action! board in Carrington (described in section 8), it was used as a conversation starter and a promotion of the project itself. Each interviewee drew the shape of his or her hand on a piece of paper, writing inside that shape what she or he is really good at. This exercise served to inspire community action and a positive (optimistic) attitude, and was later used as part of the final exhibition where it contrasted with published data on local deprivation. kNott furniture was designed together with a DIY guide so anyone can produce it without prior knowledge, skills, or advanced tools. We tried to communicate that the only thing people need to have in their hands is their motivation.

<!> Necessary materials: paper and pen.

A cardboard hat was made in order to collect memories. While a person is wearing the hat, she or he is also recording his or her memory about the neighbourhood. The use of a material object proved to be much more engaging than a simple question; the playfulness of the hat inspired people to share their thoughts in a relaxed way. Additionally, passers-by were more interested in getting involved since they were led by their curiosity – this did not look like just another street survey. 

<!> Necessary materials: audio recorder, ‘hat’, chair and a camera (to take a picture with while someone is in the hat).

Besides working with the general public in neighbourhoods, we organised several workshops in three elementary schools (Sneinton, Carrington, and West Bridgford). The aim was to explore how children identify with places in which they live, and also how they perceive the identity of their schools. We developed two types of interviews – ‘Discovering your identity’ and ‘Little monuments’.

Before the workshops about their identity took place, the children were asked to bring pictures from home relating to five different themes: their favourite games, storiescelebrations, places, and family member (someone who cares for them and who they care for). These pictures were combined into collages; the data produced in this way was very interesting, because children could express themselves more easily by using photos and combining them. However, the validity of the research is put into question with the interpretation of data gathered this way. This pilot phase showed that this method should be combined with interviews in which children can explain what they brought and why. Also, the data should be produced in smaller groups (focus group of maximum five children) or in a face-to-face interview. 

‘Little monuments’ is a specially designed interview guide for a workshop with children in Sneinton Primary School. Children from different age groups were asked to select one object from their school that is important for them and for the school itself, and to bring it to a group session. They started filling the form from the centre – drawing the object – to a circle periphery (explaining the meaning of the object). This exercise will be developed further by marking on the school plan all locations where the objects were found, and thus analysing the school’s environment and its identity through a curatorial intervention.

A sketch-map of the neighbourhood in focus (Carrington) was drawn on cardboard and hung on the wall. We asked participants to fill in two types of tags: ‘I like spending time in … ’ and ‘If I would have time I would spend it in … ’. The reason behind using time-tags was to enhance the initial research, aiming to identify the places people usually spend time and the places in which they would like to dwell. It helped us start conversations with the audience and it proved to be an easy and quick way to engage.


Organising public engagement events on the street are rather challenging, so exercises like this one are very useful: they are self-explanatory, familiar, not very demanding, and are visually attractive. This becomes an excuse to start a conversation about the project itself, and may continue with the next exercise or more questions.

<!> Necessary materials: foam or cardboard for the map, pins, paper (card) for tags, rope, and pens.




Semi-structured interviews

<identifying motivation and need through play>

<public experiment and intervention>

Memory hat

Coding the map

<performative mapping>

Drawing interview

(What is in my hand?)

<identifying motivation and need through play>

Communicating with children

– visual interviews

<curatorial intervention>

<identifying motivation and need through play>