During our first year we offered a programme of ’52 Things’ made with and for the city’s creative community to showcase the fantastic people and places in our city. You can find the full 52 here.

As part of our week in the Vertical studio, a creative space built by students from the Welsh School of Architecture, we took the opportunity to invite the creative community into the university to talk about building a hub for Cardiff.

Across the UK, and indeed the world, innovative hubs are popping up, creating uniquely designed work spaces and fostering co-production and a community atmosphere. Creative Cardiff, working with Cardiff Unuiversity, has an ambition to develop a hub to provide work space for creatives across the city. As part of this process we were keen to involve the creative community in visioning what a space could look like, who would use it and where it could be. To answer these questions we organised two open consultation events in which people from across the creative economy shared their thoughts and perspectives. Here are some of the thoughts our participants share with us:

Where?

One of the most important considerations in building or developing a hub is where to put it. Being a university-backed project there is debate to be had over whether a hub space should be on campus or if it should be somewhere else in the city. The majority of participants felt strongly that it needed to be somewhere other than the university campus with a straw poll indicating 18 participants shared this view with only 4 wanting it on campus, of whom most worked at the university.

Many participants pointed to the university existing in a bubble removed from the realities of the work place and feared a hub building would be caught up in that, others were concerned about any red tape or regulations that would hinder progress with one participant remarking ‘Creative People just want to do it!’ and another fearing ‘too many hoops to jump through and creatives can’t wait for permission from a uni’. Some participants were unsure, pointing for a need to balance access to students at the unversity and the contraints of working in a big organisation.

So if not at the university, where should a hub should be built? Naturally our participants had a variety of suggestions. The next debate centred on Cardiff Bay as a location, again with some suggesting it is also in its own bubble. Others remarked that the benefit of this would be that it is separated from other parts of the city and could therefore allow people to focus on work. This developed into a conversation about whether the hub should foster a community beyond working hours or not.

Other participants suggested that we consider repurposing existing buildings be it buildings in the docks or the old post office building on Westgate st. One person suggested that we consider a radical approach of placing the hub somewhere like City road to spark redevelopment of the area, although warned about the need to involve the local community throughout the building process.

Who? 

When answering this question, participants considered who would use the hub, who they would like to connect with through the space and what the community feel should be. In discussing who would be there many expressed the view they didn’t want anyone to dominate the space, particularly larger organisations. There was also discussion about the need for facilitation and curation to actively connect users within the space, a role they envisaged Creative Cardiff playing within that space. People wanted introductions and opportunities to network in terms of gaining tenders and contracts etc but also to investigate who could add value to their practice.

Participants explained that it was important to foster a community within the walls and to invite disruption and serendipity into the working atmosphere so that innovation can occur. There was a also a suggestion of fostering skills and creative talent in the space, perhaps through connecting students to experienced practitioners to empower the creative workforce.   

What?

After deciding where to place and hub and who to have in it there is a need to explore what the space can offer practitioners. Whilst it is difficult to predict the outcome of working in a space before anyone has used it, there is a possibility of gathering thoughts on what facilitation could occur within the space.

Creative Cardiff as owners of the hub space will be actively engaging with the users and helping facilitate the community within. In terms of the practicalities of space many participants talked about a need for a strong internet connection, access to work appropriate technology and a need for private spaces to work in and take phone calls. The last point is interesting in that many hubs traditionall offer an open plan office space, so it is useful to know that a variety of open and private space would better serve the people who contributed to this consultation.

Participants also talked about the need for social interactions within the space to take breaks form the working environment. The idea of a café was raised potentially as a portal to the space, creating an informal environment to have meetings in as well as presenting a social space for lunch and work breaks. Other ideas for social space including a shared kitchen to make food and coffee in as well as a garden space in which hub members can engage in gardening and spend social time together.

The next stage of our consultation process will be the Creative Cardiff pop-up hub at the Wales Millennium Centre where will test thoughts and ideas of how such a space would work and what facilitation we can offer.

To find out more information about this opportunity and to apply to work in the pop-up hub for a week go to: creativecardiff.org.uk/hub

Share