Cultural Couriers was a transformational design project carried out in the Tuinwijk Genk in the eastern part of Flanders with a focus on improving the social fabric. The project employed cultural probes, informal interviews and observations of neighbourhood activities to gain an understanding of the design space.
Tuinwijk Genk harbours many cultures, most of which have established them self in the area during the times the local coal mines were operational. In these times there was a closely knit multi-cultural social life, but nowadays the ethnic groups (mostly Italians, Turks, Greeks and Belgians) are more reserved towards each other. While having vastly differing routines and traditions, historically they had one hobby that united them; pigeon sports. Another observation that was made was that, even at present times, the cultures of the area maintain strong relationships with their countries of origin, which are visit regularly (most often by car).
Cultural Couriers expands the forgotten social dynamic of competitive pigeon flying by offering the residents the opportunity to take a trained homing pigeon with them on their visits to their home land. On location the residents can film short clips of events they deem noteworthy or interesting to share with the community in Tuinwijk Genk. They recording device is then attached to the pigeon collar and the bird is set free. During the return flight, a GPS transceiver records the geographical trajectory the pigeon makes while flying back to Belgium. The recordings and geographical routes and the pigeon shelters were exhibited in a small exhibition space in the community center.
Cultural CouriersEmbracing multiculturalismTransformational Design
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