Katerina Alexiou

Katerina Alexiou

Katerina is a Senior Lecturer in Design at the Open University, currently working in the area of co-design and creative citizenship.

Activity

  • Thank you for posting your storyline, it is fantastic! I am so glad to hear that the exercise helped in your collaboration with the vicar and the church wardens. You can also use it periodically to help check on progress, and to review and readjust your assets, priorities and actions.

  • Hello Paula, these are nice reflections. And I agree, mutual trust and respect can go a long way to help connect generations and encourage a more inclusive process.

  • @DavidRussell That is wonderful!

  • Hi Phil. Thank you for mentioning power. I think that bringing the church congregation and the local community together is both a matter of (reflecting on) shared 'values' as a well as a matter of shared ownership and responsibility. Sometimes, although the values may be shared (i.e. love your neighbour as yourself) I think the congregation, and particularly...

  • :-) Welcome to the course Ray

  • Glad you were able to find it nonetheless! The broken link is fixed now, thanks for letting us know

  • I agree, you have to do things for the right reasons!

  • That is a very good example illustrating why early involvement of potential users and beneficiaries is important in the design process. It not only reveals problems or hidden issues, but it also makes it more meaningful and sometimes also more innovative. I hope your project goes well!

  • Welcome to the course David!

  • @PhilMcGrath I don't know what is sensible for this particular building, as I don't know the state of disrepair or what its historic or aesthetic qualities are, but, the environmental costs (in terms of energy consumption and carbon emission) of demolishing and rebuilding are generally much higher than refurbishing and retrofitting. See this BBC video:...

  • I couldn't agree with you more Phil!

  • The issue of 'permission' is indeed quite important, we see this with many community groups, not just those who look after historic places of worship, but other local citizen groups too. Oftentimes people feel they don't have the authority to act and they need to be given permission (by those in power like DACs, local authorities etc). Although you do need...

  • Different groups focus on different things using their models. In some cases, including more of the wider context like the churchyard, adjacent buildings etc is very important. In other cases, groups like to focus more on the interior and testing different alternatives for reorderings.

    The 2 day training course we offered is indeed demanding on people's...

  • Caring about others is central to many religions, not just Christian religions, so there is indeed a fundamental link between worship and supporting communities. However, what is often not realised is that the building itself can be part of that equation; maintaining and developing that building is a great responsibility, but it is fulfilling in so many ways.

  • Hello Yvonne, thank you for all the links about your work, that is brilliant. Rural places have a different set of challenges than urban places, but putting the community at the centre of plans is as important in any case. I hope you will find some useful examples and tools that will help capacity within communities.

  • That is a brilliant example of conflict resolution. Thanks for sharing Susie.

  • That is an interesting comment. In St Luke's in Oxford (which you examined in week 1) art is a very integral part of the church's engagement with the community, and it is no coincidence that St Luke is the patron saint of arts. But art is an important part of the architecture and rituals of all different faiths and traditions, and not just visual art, but also...

  • The chapel looks beautiful - is the picture in its current state? It looks well maintained. You list some good examples of assets. Thinking about intangible assets, these might include for example having useful skills like project management experience, having a supportive network around you, or having connections with schools and youth clubs.

  • Hello Melesha and welcome to the course. I hope the course will meet your expectations. Do not hesitate to post any questions or observations about the materials using the forum.

  • @PhilMcGrath Yes, building confidence is really important. I am interested in your comment about the pandemic and its effects on community engagement. During the pandemic a lot of engagement switched online, which had some positive outcomes as it included people who were perhaps less likely to engage in normal situations. But there is a lot of virtual fatigue...

  • Welcome to the course Phil!

  • In some cases closures are unavoidable, but with such a lack of community spaces, places of worship potentially have an important role to play in society. In my personal opinion, I think we all need to keep raising awareness of the value of community engagement, sharing good examples, and pushing for support, not just funding, but also the space and the time...

  • This is true, and the person who will take up this role may not necessarily be the person who leads the congregation. It may actually not be a single person either. We discuss the issues of leadership and capacity in our our booklet presenting some key considerations (authored by Becky Payne):...

  • Hello Susie and welcome to the course. The project you are describing sounds fantastic, early stage funding to explore partnerships between places of worship and community business is certainly needed and I am sure it will benefit many churches. I hope the materials in the course will be useful for you in your role.

  • Hello Wagdi, historic buildings, including those associated with different faiths, have an important role to play in today's communities. They have religious, historic and architectural value, but also an important social role. The course aims to facilitate thinking about the potential of these buildings and how to approach their future sustainability and we...

  • We like to say that design is not a skill, but a mindset. Drawing can be an important tool for designers, but design is much more than that, and all your examples illustrate this!

  • And thank you for your own contributions Mike. We've learned so much from your own story and we are continuously inspired by what community groups can achieve in their places.

  • It does take courage to open up the discussion about what a place of worship can be for the wider community, but as you say, more often than not, it brings useful new possibilities.

  • I like your expression that your dreams were bigger than your plot of land! I think facilitating this dreaming with different members of the community is really valuable on its own, even if not all the dreams can be realised immediately.

  • These are indeed some very common challenges, especially with old church buildings. Can you think of any assets? For example, are there any characteristics of church buildings that make them an asset? Think about size, acoustics, location... things that people may value because they are not easily found elsewhere...

    Also, we have found many cases where the...

  • @JoannaC That is a great idea and something that can be used as evidence of community engagement in future bids too.

  • Hello Kat and welcome to the course. There are a few DAC officers taking the course but also community members and we hope that the diversity of people taking the course will serve as a source of learning and inspiration as well. Look forward to your comments and thoughts on the materials.

  • Thank you for this comment Katy. Knowledge of the liturgical requirements is indeed quite important as well as the knowledge of the process for permission. Historic places of worship in particular have further requirements because it is not only the ecclesiastical experience, but also conservation knowledge which is important. However, it is also important to...

  • Katerina Alexiou replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Thank you Joanne, we are pleased to hear you enjoyed the course. Any feedback is welcome. You can keep in touch via the Facebook page if you like. Good luck with all your learning and aspirations in the New Year!

  • Yes, these themes offer a very simple way to start a conversation among different people about the different aspects/qualities of a space and the varying perceptions of those qualities.

  • These are very interesting examples, thank you for sharing the links! We have been mainly focussing on cases where the building is transformed to house other activities, while maintaining its faith character. But selling the building or giving it to another group to develop and manage is sometimes the right thing to do. You always need to keep in mind the...

  • Indeed, that is especially difficult when you are dealing with historic buildings. But preservation and change are not necessarily contradictory to one another.

  • Every place is unique and the idea of the flats may not work in one place, but may well work in another. One of the important learnings from the story of St Luke's (and from many other places), is that you shouldn't rush into a 'solution' without having explored the views of many different stakeholders to establish the need and wants of all those who will...

  • That is a good example. Any kind of partnership will require some degree of negotiation and exploration of where things collide and where they can be a sense of common purpose. Have you seen the case of Stratford-upon-Avon URC? (https://www.stratforduponavonurc.co.uk) They decided to rent the church hall to a theatre and have created a very successful...

  • That is the nice thing about places, that you connect them with your own experiences and memories and this gives them a special value. Did you enjoy the virtual tour?

  • These are important points. Absolutely, keeping the engagement and the ambition going is very challenging. Because of the complexities surrounding the reordering/adaptation of historic places of worship, these projects take a long time to complete and it is natural that people will get tired and lose the 'spark' sometimes. Small changes and small wins is...

  • That is fantastic Paul, I hope the course will help gain some useful ideas and practical skills. Look forward to hear more about your church building, your community and your aspirations as the course progresses.

  • A lot of people feel the same! And it is understandable. Making a model is just one way of engaging with the building and its challenges and opportunities, not everybody has to do it. But I have to say that if you create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and brave to give it a go, it can actually be quite enjoyable, it helps reconnect with your...

  • That is an interesting comment about the model making. The model making activity often feels quite daunting for people at first, but it is actually a very valuable exercise. You correctly observe that the models in the video do not look very sophisticated, and they are not, because their purpose is not to accurately portray or show the building off, but to...

  • That is a very good point. Community engagement does require a constant effort to build and to deepen relationships with people. There is more about this in weeks 3&4. Another issue we have observed, is that sometimes places of worship already have strong relationships with the wider community, but struggle to connect this activity with the activity which is...

  • That is quite interesting Mike - is this the relevant link? https://constructingexcellence.org.uk/agile-in-buildings/
    or do you have something else you can point people to? I like the idea of Agile design, I know the concept is used in collaborative software development.

    There is a tradition of using virtual reality (VR) to share plans about a building...

  • Hi Albert, have you had any experience with community-led design yourself?

  • Hello Lorna and congratulations on your new role. We were also very new to the challenges and sensitivities surrounding historic places of worship when we started working in this area! But we loved the challenge, it is fascinating how issues of faith, heritage, architecture and community intersect - it is complex, but when all these factors start working...

  • Hello Mike, lovely to see you here. Your engagement with the EDP project has been fantastic and you have already achieved fantastic things for the benefit of the community. Your feedback on the course will be very welcome. I hope some of your colleagues at Yorkshire Baptist Association who haven't engaged with some of the workshops and activities we offered...

  • Hi Tariq, thanks for sharing this information, what you are doing sounds very interesting and relevant to this course. I hope you will enjoy it. Although the course is focussed on historic places of worship, the key concepts and methods can be applied to any community-led design process. Most of the practical exercises are designed so that you can actually...