Wastes and Strays …on the Road

I haven’t written for a while, but as the dust settles on our Wastes and Strays project there is much to unpick and much, much work to carry on with. I’ll start at the end.

Caption for main image: Exhibition poster – this one emphasising the event in Brighton. Design: Alessandro Zambelli

In May and June as the project entered its final ‘official’ (ie funded – sort of) weeks we took the work of all three work packages; ‘past’, ‘present’ and ‘future’ on the road. A series of one day exhibitions at each of our 4 case-study urban common locations and tested public reaction to and engagement with excerpts of the work of the entire project.

In a slightly less than one month period we took 51 boards depicting the text and images of the main work packages, the many beautiful drawings, models, prototypes, community engagement and co-creation ‘probes’ and artefacts made for the Pavilions of the Commons/Urban Commons parallel projects run by Graham Perring, Armelle Tardiveau, Daniel Malo with Siobhan O’Neill, and by me, but made by our extraordinary students at the University of Brighton School of Architecture Technology and Engineering, Newcastle University School of Architecture Planning and Landscape and the University of Portsmouth School of Architecture. Remember (as if we could forget) that this work and these students toiled across the depths of the pandemic.

The outputs of the different work packages find their best expression in different media; the main Wastes and Strays monograph is ‘in-press’ and the words of Chris Rodgers, Rachel Hammersley, Sarah Collins, Livi Dee, Siobhan O’Neill (and me) will find their best expression there. In fact they already have on the Wastes and Strays official blog. But it is the student work, and even more than that, the work of Siobhan O’Neill and the communities she engaged with which shone through on the exhibition boards and the co-creation events she organised at each exhibition location.

Many other others supported these endeavours, and their names are on the boards. We plan to make a permanent digital exhibition of these images, so it may be that full credits will need to wait until then. I will however mention Helen Hampson at Newcastle University. I might have designed the exhibition, but at Newcastle, Norwich and Bristol she made it all happen. She was indispensable too at Brighton, but Graham deserves most of the plaudits there.

So, I needed to design an exhibition which would work in four radically different exhibition spaces, one of which hadn’t even been found yet. We were lucky to have been lent exhibition stands and plinths by Newcastle University School of Architecture Planning and Landscape, so those imposed a welcome, flexible, structure. Here it is shown at Frere Community Centre in Norwich (the one event I couldn’t, in the end, attend myself).

Wastes and Strays on the Road exhibition layout tested at Frere Road. Layout design and drawing: Alessandro Zambelli, April 2022

We also needed a generic ‘key’ for quick mounting of the boards on the stands. I should mention here the amazing work done by Newcastle Law School PhD students who came to every location and helped us put up the exhibition. The final board design changed somewhat from this but were close enough for it to be indispensable in the extraordinarily tight timeframes we had to put up and take down each exhibition.

Wastes and Strays on the Road exhibition generic board layout. Drawing: Alessandro Zambelli, May 2022

There are many images I could show but there will be further outlets for this so for each location I will restrict myself to a few boards and some photos of the event itself each (photos are by various members of the team). So, in the order they happened:


Newcastle, Wylam Brewery 10th May 2022


Bristol, Clifton Observatory 16th May 2022


Brighton, Open Market 2nd June 2022


Norwich, Frere Rd Community Centre 7th June 2022


And finally, a reminder, in brief, of who we are and why we did what we did.

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