Cultures of Resilience

Cultures of Resilience Conclusion of the project
Cultures of Resilience Logo

Cultures of Resilience (CoR) was a three academic year project at University of the Arts London (UAL). It gathered together staff and students from across the University and was coordinated by Ezio Manzini, UAL Chair of Design for Social Innovation (2013-2016 Project) and President of DESIS Network; Nick Bell, UAL Chair of Communication Design (2013-2016 Project); and Professor Jeremy Till, Head of Central Saint Martins.

Its initial purpose was to discuss the cultural dimension of resilience and produce a set of narratives, values, ideas and projects on this topic. As it evolved, CoR narrowed its general theme of the cultures of resilience to a more focused one of communities-in-place, which was identified as a pre-condition for every possible social resilience.

CoR was made viable by the observation that there were already several projects and initiatives underway at UAL that were dealing directly or indirectly with the issue of social resilience and community building. In view of this the aim of CoR was to offer these on-going projects a common platform from which to exchange experiences, discuss and build some original art and design knowledge. In doing so, CoR carried out a de facto action research project, where the action thread consisted of several art and design initiatives, and the research thread was the program of discussions and seminars devoted to the social effects of the project. Beyond this main goal, CoR also aimed at including ‘normal’ didactic activities in a research process, challenging an art and design school to actalso as an action research agent.

CoR was organized in two phases. The first one, February 2014 to October 2014, was dedicated to building a group of committed CoR members, and discussing the CoR theme. This first phase had a mainly divergent character, cultivating the differences while raising the level of the conversation and, at the same time, deepening and enriching it [1].

In the second phase, November 2014 to July 2016, 13 parallel CoR project teams agreed to enter a converging process: to present and discuss their activities, which per se had very different motivations and goals, from the same point of view (the project’s impact on social forms) and answering the same question (how to describe the social forms they contribute to generate). In other words, in this second phase the on-going projects were used as references and practical experiences on which to base a discussion about the nature of contemporary communities-in-place and the encounters on which they are built.

All the outcomes of the CoR project, with the 13 project presentations and related discussions (from the final CoR seminar Weaving People and Places held at CSM in July 2016), can be found on

[1] Ezio Manzini, J. Till, edited by, CoR Ideas (London: Hato Press, 2015)