STBY were asked by Dott Cornwall – a Design Council body who promote design-led solutions to economic and social problems – to investigate what could be done to support sustainable living in Cornwall. The project initially focused on whether a new ‘Centre for Sustainable Living’ was needed in order to support the transition to sustainability throughout the region. To this end, STBY interviewed 27 carefully selected people – 18 stakeholders and 9 ‘future’ users – before analysing the results with nine key stakeholders in a subsequent workshop.
The field research for this project was done in close collaboration with four design students from University College Falmouth. From the data analysis and the workshop, it emerged quite clearly that a decentralised approach – one that would support the various organisations, initiatives and practices already existing in relation to sustainable living – would be far more useful than building a new centre.
STBY’s research had found that the barriers preventing the spread of sustainable living were primarily issues of visibility, and connectivity. The significant amount of activity concerning sustainability taking place in Cornwall simply wasn’t visible enough (nor accessible enough) to people wanting to make changes in the way they lived and worked. Further to this, the many initiatives and micro-businesses involved in sustainability simply weren’t ‘connected’ enough; a social business culture, built around the idea of sustainable living, would make the setting-up and subsequent growth of these businesses far easier – and a decentralised approach using local social ‘hubs’ was the best way to achieve this according to both STBY’s research and the experts in the workshop.
Based on these insights, STBY were able to co-develop several potential project ideas in a workshop with stakeholders and experts. These were not only backed up by the insight-based foundation established in the research phase, but were presented with a summary of the potential funding streams available to each.
The project was thus able to provide a comprehensive summary of the issues currently affecting the promotion of sustainable living, as well as a series of prototype concepts tailored to the realities of the situation that the research had established.