Pablo Sendra was the winner of the Future Wimbledon competition with his idea, Play Wimbledon. We meet the designer and find out more about his work and what inspires him.
Profile: Pablo Sendra
Pablo Sendra runs Lugadero with Javier Martínez and Marta Morera, an architectural and urban design practice based in Seville, Spain. During the last five years, he has combined professional practice with academic research. His main research interest is the design of the public space. Pablo’s doctoral thesis focused on the regeneration of the public space in social housing neighbourhoods in London. Currently, he is teaching urban design at The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, and spatial design at the University Foundation Programme, David Game College.
Pablo developed his entry Play Wimbledon – which you can view in full here: Playful Wimbledon - pdf download, in collaboration with his partners at Lugadero; Javier Martínez and Marta Morera.
Can you tell us about what inspired Play Wimbledon, your vision for the future of Wimbledon town centre?
Our proposal aims to create new places where people can take some time off, relax, and play. Town centres should have appealing places to live, work, eat and play, but it is actually the forth one, PLAY, the one that really makes a difference and makes a place more enjoyable for citizens.
What was it about the brief that attracted you as a designer?
The fact that there were two categories—“Rising Stars” and “Creative Communities”, one for professionals and the other for local groups—was indicative that the council wanted to take into account local people’s opinion about the future of their town. We saw this brief as a good opportunity to propose a process that allows and encourage people to participate on the design of the urban environment.
What was your process for developing the idea and how did your research work?
This project is the result of many years of research and drawing insights from both my professional and academic career. Lugadero, the name of our practice, means “those people who create places”. This means that the goal of our company is to create places that people can enjoy.
What did you find to be the biggest challenges and issues in the existing town centre?
We found as big challenges the lack of small public spaces and the lack of non-built ground. This is the reason why we decided to propose light structures that give access to rooftops, since there were very little possibilities for proposing new public spaces on the ground floor.
Your idea was informed by the principle of gamification to motivate the public to playfully engage with the town centre in various ways – can you explain how this would work in practice?
Gamification has commonly been used in marketing to engage people with products. We though it would be great if we could use this same concept to engage people to participate in the design of their town.
This would consist both on offline and online gaming as means to involve local citizens, experts, investors and policy makers in the urban design process.
In our entry, we described three steps of this process:
- The beginning: the first step is setting up conditions for the beginning of the process. Play Wimbledon proposes the installation of devices as a kick-start to the process. These devices will enable citizens to discover new public spaces and creative ways of using them to have fun.
- Let’s play!: the installation of devices need to be accompanied by the organization of events, games and workshops that engage citizens with the process of achieving a better Wimbledon. The best way to encourage people to attend and engage with the activities is by proposing games that motivate citizens. These games can take place in the proposed structures and devices, so people start engaging with the new public spaces. These games are essential to ask the citizens to bring new ideas for future Wimbledon.
- Building next steps for greater achievements: the installation of devices together with the organization of games can build the path for major urban interventions and transformations of the town centre that come as the result of a process in which citizens participate.
The judges were particularly impressed by Play Wimbledon because of how each element could be implemented individually, concurrently or at different stages – why was it important to you to take such an inclusive and flexible approach?
We think that our role as urban designers is to create conditions for alternative uses of the public space. Our goal was to propose small urban interventions, which are incomplete in a certain way, so residents can contribute to provide the place with a strong character. For this reason, instead of creating a “final” masterplan, we have proposed the beginning of a process that takes people into account.
Which feature of Play Wimbledon are you most excited by?
We are really excited about testing how people may react to small interventions in the public space. The project would be a success if we manage to encourage people to interact with the proposed devices and they start playing with them. We would love to see people having fun on the rooftop of the buildings.
What do you think are the key benefits of running an open competition like Future Wimbledon - where both designers and built environment professionals like yourself - and members of the community, can contribute ideas towards urban regeneration?
This was the key thing from the brief that really attracted us. For us, it was great to meet the Wimbledon East Hillside Residents Association—who won the Creative Communities award— at the Bookfest announcement event and share ideas about our proposals. We think this is necessary for every competition that involves proposing transformations in town centre. This initiative clearly demonstrates the council’s interests in hearing local neighbours’ voice.
Can you tell us about some of the other projects you’ve been working on lately?
Most of our architectural design projects at Lugadero are small scale, which allows us to take people into account since the beginning of the design process. Our main interest of research is the public space. This competition is a great opportunity to put into practice our extensive research about interventions in the public realm.
I recently completed my PhD about interventions in the public space in neighbourhoods in London. This project can be also a great opportunity to put into practice many of the outcomes of this piece of research
Find out more
Find out more about the Future Wimbledon ideas competition and view more of the inspiring entries.
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