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Introducing UAL's Climate Studio

Students sitting around a picnic table outdoors
  • Written byAlexandra R. Cifre
  • Published date 01 June 2022
Students sitting around a picnic table outdoors
UAL Design graduates at the Climate Curriculum session delivered by Andy Belfield | Photographer: Bunga Laraescaesara

Climate Studio is new initiative launched by University of the Arts London (UAL) to develop an urban network of citizens, organisations and government to support collaborative place-based climate action.

Through an innovative approach co-led by 3 UAL Colleges, Climate Studio will be delivered through a public programme of knowledge exchange activities involving local residents, council representatives and UAL students, graduates and academics. The aim of these collaborative practices is to form a joint network to tackle climate justice at a neighbourhood scale, building on local needs, practices and knowledge.

A group of UAL graduates will also play a key role in Climate Studio — 9 Design graduates have been selected to take part in Climate Curriculum sessions and embed themselves in local community organisations as part of the project.

The initiative has been co-developed by Dr Lara Salinas, Senior Lecturer  in Service Design at London College of Communication; Andreas Lang, Course Leader for MA ARCH: Architecture at Central Saint Martins; and Claire Swift, Director of Social Responsibility at London College of Fashion. Together, they will lead on on Climate Action activities across different London boroughs.

Person writing on colorful notes
Council representatives and young residents participating in an event to envision better futures for the borough | Photographer: Lara Salinas

South London

Dr Lara Salinas will be further developing an existing collaboration between LCC's Service Futures Lab and Southwark Council, which will also include several local community organisations. In the South cluster, Lara and her colleagues will be implementing a programme of design-led civic engagement activities with children and young adults who are contributing to develop Southwark’s Climate Emergency Action Plan.

North London

Andreas Lang and his team will be focusing in North London, where Climate Studio will explore new diverse and inclusive possibilities to reclaim urban spaces as circular economy spaces, offering agency to local residents to change their behaviour towards waste reduction and promote more sustainable consumption patterns. Building upon a strategic partnership between CSM and Somers Town Community Association, Climate Studio aims to contribute towards a community-led circular economy model, centred around making the Charlton Street Market the focal point for knowledge exchange, ideas and resources to inspire change.

East London

Led by Claire Swift, Climate Studio will also be present in East London, using Poplar Works and R-Urban at Poplar HARCA as designated spaces to facilitate community engagement activities exploring new opportunities with local women, children and local entrepreneurs. Participants and graduates working in the East cluster have been developing initial design concepts, including modular picnic mats, lunch bags and craft packs for children. This strand of the project is looking at feeding into the existing relationship between LCF and organic food delivery company Abel & Cole.

Children attending a session in a garden
Climate Studio participants gather at the Paper Garden | Photographer: Lara Salinas
The journey to create Climate Studio has been absolutely thrilling; sharing our different approaches as design practitioners has been a truly enriching experience. Also, getting to spend time in local community gardens and collaborate closely with children and young adults has been refreshing and humbling — it's incredible how much knowledge our local communities hold.

— Dr Lara Salinas

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