[Thoughts on creative infrastructure and how to make it work, by Testing Grounds Communications and Operations Manager Trent Griffiths, November 2018]
It starts with questions: can I hang this thing off that thing? Can I drill here? Do you have a screwdriver, tape, a printer? Can you help me hang this light?
It starts with thinking about infrastructure as well as architecture. Or thinking of architecture as infrastructure. What do spaces for creative practice need? How will they work, and be worked upon?
They need roofs and walls and anchor points; spaces that can open up or tightly enclose. Spaces that can take a beating. Spaces that are not the finished product – to be adorned and adored – but that can be built upon and moved around and hold everything else. A ground that other things can build upon. It is infrastructure with an architectural function; it is architecture in the spirit of infrastructure.
It starts with thinking about architecture as infrastructure, but the questions of programming and care follow quickly behind.
How can creativity thrive through programming? How can creativity thrive through the spirit of a place?
The longer we’ve steered the ship that is Testing Grounds, the more we’ve come to understand how program and care-taking are an inseparable part of the infrastructure that supports creative practice. Encouraging collaboration, supporting experimentation, and giving people more civic agency to be creative requires a range of structures, a range of tools, a range of supports…
So creative infrastructure is buildings and a kit of parts for use; it is a program that is open and responsive and interdisciplinary; and it is an attitude to taking care of people that supports them to realise their creative vision.
It is parts and program and care-taking, together.