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Liverpool Biennial: 2Up 2Down

Date uploaded: August 24, 2011

Liverpool Biennial has invited Dutch artist, Jeanne van Heeswijk, to work with a group of young people from the Anfield/Breckfield area not in education, employment or training to develop spaces for their community using both the redundant terraced housing and vacant ground in Anfield.

Why shouldn't more people be able to build their own dream? Grant Shapps, 3 May 2011

At the launch of the Grand Designs Exhibition in London in May, Housing Minister, Grant Shapps declared his particular interest in community self-build, describing it as 'people getting together to build their own homes' at the same time as learning a trade that may lead to them getting a job. Arena Housing and Liverpool City Council are supporting just such an initiative, called 2Up 2Down, led by Liverpool Biennial in Anfield/Breckfield.

Liverpool Biennial have commissioned a Dutch artist, Jeanne Van Heeswijk, to work with a group of around 40 young people in the Anfield/Breckfield area over the next eighteen months to design and build a small housing unit for two to four households in the community which will be set up as a self-build/collective ownership model. During the course of the development the young people (aged 12 to 25) will acquire a range of skills from design and construction to planning and communication and form the core of the project workforce. The group will work in two to four teams to design and build a new block of live/workspace with assistance from skilled people (some of whom are currently unemployed and live in the area) and other professionals,  such as architects from Urbed Trust (who have recently won a sustainable building award with Bramall Construction) and quantity surveyors and project managers (from BAM Construction as part of the company’s employee volunteering scheme). Wayne Hemingway, CABE’s Chair of Building for Life, is also a keen supporter of the project.Liverpool City Council's Neighbourhood Management Services have been helping to identify a suitable site for the project and foster positive relationships with the community and local service providers including the Youth Service, Community Support Officers etc. as well as Arena Housing Group who owns a block of void properties in Rockfield Road that is being considered for the scheme.

Meanwhile, the young people have taken part in design workshops and a construction skills taster session at Liverpool Community College’s new National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies based at Vauxhall Road in advance of a bespoke summer school. It is hoped that some members of the group will opt for a Young Apprenticeship course while we are hoping to get one or two formal apprenticeships for the older members with local construction companies. In August the group will be taking part in a Build Camp with the artist as a very visible method of community consultation and engagement. (Build Camps are very common in Holland where children en masse take part in a timber construction summer camp with their friends and families).

Jeanne has been in residence in the former Bakery opposite the football stadium (on the corner of Oakfield Road and Donaldson Road) refitting it for small exhibitions, workshops, debates and, of course, baking! She has developed an exhibition there with the young people and local residents, which launched on 24 June.

You can keep up to date with the project at its blog site here.

Treating the community as client, they will develop a deeper understanding of the needs of their own neighbourhood as well as acquiring skills during a Building Camp this August.  The programme, entitled 2Up, 2Down, takes its name from the terraced housing typified by two rooms on two floors and will unfold over a two-year period with elements of it ready to be viewed as part of the 7th Liverpool Biennial in 2012.
Jeanne works with public spaces on socially committed art projects, where she sees herself as a mediator and communicator. She stimulates and develops cultural collaboration and production and creates new public spaces and meeting zones as well as remodelling existing ones. To achieve this, Jeanne works closely with artists, designers, architects, software developers, governments and, most importantly, citizens.

In 2004, Van Heeswijk negotiated the use of a large new villa in a newly created district called IJburg, in the city of Amsterdam.  The artist invited artists, urbanisms, architects, writers, scholars, scientists, politicians, sociologists and other thinkers to become members of The Blue House Housing Association of the Mind for the duration of the four-year project. Associate members dedicated their time to engage with, to live and to work in The Blue House and were encouraged to engage with one another and with IJburg residents to develop projects that began to establish the cultural identity of the neighbourhood at the same time as cultivating social enterprise that included re-purposing a construction site as a temporary, ‘pop-up’ hotel and conference centre during the summer of 2009.

Jeanne has made at least five research trips to Anfield which have led her to propose a communal self build scheme, starting with setting up a Design and Build workshop on one of the vacant spaces in the neighbourhood to allow people of all ages in the wider community to develop urban design, architecture and construction skills as well as the capacity to develop social enterprises of their own. Working with the architects of the Anfield Housing Market Renewal area and a team of architectural MA students from Sheffield University, Jeanne hopes that the participants will gain an understanding of the housing regeneration process underway in their neighbourhood and, importantly, acquire the skills to play an active part in making it a positive space to live, work and play.

Jeanne van Heeswijk’s work has been widely exhibited, including at PS1 Center for Contemporary Art in New York, the Tokyo City Opera Art Gallery, the Taipei Biennal, Taiwan, the Busan Biennale, Korea and the Venice Biennale. She has been awarded the Europrix, Chabot and Mama Cash prizes for her work and regularly lectures on urban renewal, participation and cultural production.

Jeanne van Heeswijk’s residency is supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Granada Foundation, Mondriaan Foundation, Deutsche Bank, BAM Construction and Arena Housing.

Visit www.biennial.com/content/LiverpoolBiennial2008/TwoUpTwoDown/Overview.aspx

Jeanne van Heeswijk at the 2Up 2Down Project Hub Launch

Jeanne van Heeswijk at the 2Up 2Down Project Hub Launch