public works

Group – London, England

Public works is an art and architecture practice based in London which was established in 1999. Currently three of the five founding members remain: the artist Katrin Böhm, architects Torange Khonsari and Andreas Lang, alongside artist Polly Brannan who joined in 2005. Public works create projects that investigate how users engage with public space, devising strategies for supporting social, cultural and other initiatives in both urban and rural contexts. They employ playful methods to involve local users, residents and passers-by in their projects, often making interventions on site in order to inform and expand a given brief.

Since 2006, they have run the popular Friday sessions, inviting practitioners and theorists to speak about their work and engage in informal discussions. They have also organised a desk residency at their studio, renting out space to those working in related fields. Both the Friday sessions and the desk residency show public work's commitment to collaborative work and to the building and nurturing of informal networks, a concern that is followed through in their projects. Collaboration is key to their work, with a network of interested parties, experts and specialists gathered around each project.

Public works have developed their own representational language, which uses sketches, diagrams and individual websites for almost all of their projects, developed in collaboration with web designer, Dorian Moore. These map out the process of each project showing in detail the different actors involved, their relationships to each other and how the design evolved. This representational method allows public works to emphasise the importance of encounter and informal exchanges in their projects, their DIY aesthetic being able to record these important aspects quickly and clearly. This DIY ethos is also carried through in their penchant for self-publishing: they have produced fanzines to accompany a number of projects as well as the Friday sessions. In all of their engagements public works take on the role of facilitators and hosts, making the conditions and spaces necessary for the types of exchanges that can create shared, social spaces.

Other Work

'Andreas Lang (Architect/Public Works, UK)', 2008, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVXRT6_2aH0&feature=youtube_gdata [accessed 3 March 2010].

Public works, If you can't find it, give us a ring (Birmingham: Article Press, 2006).

'Colchester Inn', http://www.colchesterinn.net/ [accessed 3 March 2010].

'International Village Shop', http://www.internationalvillageshop.net/ [accessed 3 March 2010].

'The gift shop', http://thewhitechapelgiftshop.com/ [accessed 3 March 2010].

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