BiographyWillcocks' design-led action research, spanning 2 decades, is focused upon people-centred urban engagements and interactions in public spaces, afforded through spatial, socially responsive and co-design practices.
Willcocks’ outputs reflect research activities and their dissemination in the UK and internationally. He has delivered and co-delivered best practice, award-winning and published projects to investigate and develop opportunities regarding sociable safe places; creative wellbeing and urban play; community-led design and spatial engagement, and cycling, walking and sharing spaces. Recent projects include: Market Road Gallery bookable and street art wall that responds to public opinion (with Attic Self Storage, London Borough of Islington and Better Leisure); Confident Vibrant Oslo street furniture design and evaluation (with Institute of Transport Economics, Centre for Transport Research, Oslo); Social Safer Victoria, co-created redesigns for giving and for engaging with homelessness and begging (with Victoria Business Improvement District); Makeright - making bags to make good, inmate created anti-theft bags (with HMP Thameside, Abel & Cole and other partners); Graffolution EU FP7 consortium research project on graffiti and street art; Urban Lexicons street workshops and cultural probes (with Gunpowder Park and Landscape and Arts Network Services); and Rantzausgade safer street experience redesigns (with COST TU1203 and Nørrebro Renewal, Copenhagen).
Willcocks is a Design Council Cabe Built Environment Expert (BEE). His work is also incorporated within the Government of South Australia Atlas of Urban Excellence, as well as Design Council’s DesigningOut Crime: A Designers’ Guide. Two of his co-created designs are located in the permanent collection at MoMA, New York.
Papers Willcocks has published and presented across his research topics additionally support his teaching at Central Saint Martins (UAL), and engagements as Visiting Lecturer including at the Royal College of Art, ELISAVA Barcelona School of Design and Engineering, and Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Italy.
My practice-led research activities within UAL are allied to the Design Against Crime Research Centre (DACRC), Socially Responsive Design and Innovation hub, Public Collaboration Lab and the UK Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability (DESIS) Lab, headed by Professor Lorraine Gamman and Professor Adam Thorpe, respectively.
I completed my funded research (2014-16) with DACRC (UAL) as UK partner on the ‘Graffolution’ EU FP7 project, and currently (2017-19) I am expanding the ‘Visual Voices’ umbrella of research. This embraces a number of active and forthcoming research initiatives, pilots and prototypes. Together these works interrogate new opportunities for design to help evidence and better inform actions and decisions to enable, manage, or promote uncommissioned practices such as informal urban play and urban creativity, as forms of agonism in shared places. This seeks more creative, more cost-effective and more community-sensitive responses to the diverse impacts and values associated to such practices (see Willcocks and Toylan, 2016; McAuliffe, 2014). To achieve this, the research under-way means to better hear from and more adequately represent diverse publics - through (i) practice-oriented debate (in-person and remote); (ii) research actions in street and urban contexts, and (iii) new data and resources to inform designed systems and policy decisions.
In parallel, I continue to develop and apply research into new areas with Professor Gamman, Professor Thorpe and team, to further explore how the tools and practices of design might serve, agitate or afford among communities and contexts not previously served (for example, through the Makeright and Public Collaboration Lab projects).
Grants and awards
(Figures indicate amount awarded to UAL)
- European Union Framework 7, Graffolution: Awareness and Prevention Solution against graffiti vandalism in public areas and transport, £188,928.00, (2014-2016)
- Gamman L, Willcocks M, Thorpe A, Thomas C, Wischusen J, Hansis G, Yuille P. Design Against Crime (2007)
- Willcocks M. Building Social? More like Designing to Afford Contestation (2018)
- Willcocks M, Toylan G. In Search of a Commons of Centers - reviewing values and methods designed to assert benefit, harm or opportunity among uncommissioned visual urban practices (2016)
- Arroyo Moliner L, Galdon Clavell G, Willcocks M, Toylan G, Thorpe A. The Hands Behind the Cans (2015)
- Willcocks M. Los códigos visuales asociados al deporte: una interpretación del espacio public (The Visual Codes Associated to Sport: an Interpretation of Public Space) (2008)
- Willcocks M, Vitiello R. The Difference is in the Detail: Its Potential as a Place Branding Tool and Impact upon Perceptions and Responses (2006)
- Willcocks M, Vitiello R. Unravelling the urban lexicons of our everyday environments (2011)
- Willcocks M, Ekblom P, Thorpe A. Less Crime, More Vibrancy, by Design (2019)
- Willcocks M. London Urban Creativity (2014)
- Willcocks M. Marcus Willcocks: London Urban Creativity (2014)
- Ekblom P, Bowers KJ, Gamman L, Sidebottom A, Thomas C, Thorpe A, Willcocks M. Reducing bag theft in bars (2012)
- Willcocks M, Maza G, Balibrea K, Camino X, Duran J, Jesús Jiménez P, Santos Ortega A. Sport and Social Inclusion: a guide for social intervention through sporting activities (2011)
- Willcocks M, Vitiello R. Destination branding and the urban Lexicon: London, New York, and Barcelona (2011)
Conference, Symposium or Workshop item
- Willcocks M, Vitiello R. Urban Lexicons, Rewriting our relationship with place (2021)
- Willcocks M. Positive: Says who? How So? (2014)
- Willcocks M. Can We Build Social in Face of Conflict (2014)
- Willcocks M, Sabina A. Graffiti Impact (2013)
- Gamman L, Willcocks M. Dialogues with graffiti workshop: codes of practice linked to the dark side of creativity (2011)
- Willcocks M, Gamman L. Greening not cleaning graffiti walls (2011)
- Gamman L, Willcocks M. Dialogues with graffiti: innovating and negotiating new 21st century approaches to an old “problem” (2011)
- Gamman L, Willcocks M. Dialogues with graffiti workshop: crime prevention, restorative justice and creative social police (2011)
- Willcocks M. User research and socially responsive design (2011)
- Willcocks M. An introduction to alternative material and community responses to regenerating built environments (2010)
- Gamman L, Willcocks M. Dialogues with graffiti workshop: connected environments, communities, materials and technologies (2010)
- Willcocks M. Using cashpoint art to tackle ATM fraud (2010)
- Willcocks M. Design versus public engagement
- Willcocks M, Malpass M, Toylan G. Graffolution D2.1 - Graffiti vandalism in public areas and transport report and categorisation model (2014)
- Willcocks M, Gamman L. Cashpoint art safety zones (2011)
- Willcocks M, Gamman L. The Camden bench (2011)
- Willcocks M, Gamman L. The Stop Thief Chair and Grippa Clips (2011)
- Gamman L, Willcocks M. The Anti-bag Theft and ASB-resistant “Camden Bench" (2011)
- Gamman L, Willcocks M. ATM and cashpoint art: what’s at stake in designing against crime (2010)
- Thorpe A, Willcocks M. Study of ‘Bikeoff’ anti-theft programme in Brighton
- Willcocks M, Gamman L, Thorpe A. Makeright: making bags to make good (2017)
- Willcocks M, Russell S. Graffiti and Street Art Dilemmas in London (2016)
- Gamman L, Thorpe A, Willcocks M. Design Against ATM Crime (2011)
- Gamman L, Willcocks M, Thorpe A, Ekblom P. Demonstrating the role of design in crime reduction (2011)
- Gamman L, Willcocks M. Demonstrating the role of design in crime reduction (2011)
- Willcocks M, Gamman L, Piper J. Stop thief chair (2011)
- Gamman L, Willcocks M. Stop Thief Chair and Grippa Clip (2010)