Estate Collage

Format Alternative Pedagogy Workshops

City Lublin, Poland

LSM mass-housing estates, Lublin – Estate Collage is a creative workshop tool for children and youth communities to investigate their neighbourhood through artistic research. It invites participants to discover the origin of the estate they live or go to school in through press archives, multimedia libraries, interviews, audio recordings, videos, and so on. Estate Collage is intended to be an exercise in empathy: What was everyday life like for their grandparents living in the estate? How do marginalized groups of inhabitants experience their everyday surroundings? Which parts of the estate infrastructure are not accessible to everyone? And how can we solve this? During a series of creative workshops in which they learn the basics of sound processing and film editing, young participants express their own solutions to local urban problems in a series of little art pieces that are then assembled in a multimedia collage.

Estate Collage came about as a workshop series for a local youth club in Lublin, tapping into their existing curriculum of art classes. It took place in the context of a housing cooperative estate that was designed in the 1960s and ‘70s by famous Polish architects Zofia and Oskar Hansen (LSM, the Juliusz Słowacki settlement). Their estate was supposed to be co-created by its residents in shared responsibility, offering plenty of common spaces, possibilities for leisure activities, and green areas. However, over time, the estate’s infrastructure became less and less available for residents from a minority background. The Estate Collage project explored the utopian heritage of the estate through co-creation while at the same time creating an opportunity to speak about its future with its youngest residents.


The first step is to establish a connection with a local youth club, school or other organization through which you can reach your target group. Explain what you have in mind and discuss if it would be possible to ‘hijack’ their art curriculum with a series of creative workshops. Ideally, you would reach an audience from different age groups (between 7 and 16 years old). Apart from youth institutions, you will also need to contact other organizations that you will be working with early onward, such as libraries and archives. It is usually easier to contact teachers and animators directly rather than directors of institutions; the people who work together with the children on a day-to-day basis are more likely to make an effort and feel engaged.

People Power GET ON BOARD

Assemble a team of engaged artists, animators, teachers, representatives of institutions, and other neighbours. You will need people on board who are experienced in working with kids as well as people who know how to edit videos and sound recordings. Make sure they all know what the aim of the project is, and what is expected of them. Keep your core team small, three is perfect, as long as all necessary skills are included.


If you secure funding for your project, make sure that you know the sponsor’s agenda. In Lublin, for instance, the Estate Collage was financed with municipality money and had to tap into municipal strategies and policies for cultures. Part of this was to visit particular institutions, such as the multimedia archive. Use these kinds of requirements to your own benefit, establish strong collaborations and make us of existing working methods.


The most important part is to organize a series of creative workshops for the children. As part of these workshops, you take them to the archives and libraries that you are collaborating with. Here, they discover essential information about the history, design and demographic of their neighbourhood, from an animator as well as from their own exploration of the available material. They learn how to use a multimedia library and collect images, videos and recordings of their immediate surroundings now and in the past. Focus specifically on the perspectives of minorities, and ask the children ‘What would you do if…?’ or ‘How would you feel if…?’. Have the children combine their findings in small art pieces, such as comics or postcards. Another part of the workshop series is to teach the participants the basics of sound recording, sound editing, image animation and film editing. This is important for the next step of your project.


After the children have learnt more about the context of the estate as well as how to record and edit audiovisual material, take them outside onto location to create their own multimedia content. Have them look for specific sites that they feel are not accessible to all of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, and that they would like to see changed. You could even task the children to interview passers-by about what they feel is missing. Spark their interest and creativity!

Production WRAP UP

By now, the participants have created an enormous amount of artistic content. All that is left to do, is to assemble the Estate Collage! The best thing to do is to find a professional film editor to put together all of the material and polish it.

Communication SHOW TIME

Present the Estate Collage as part of a larger event, like a project presentation or a local celebration. Invite the parents of the participants and the representatives of the institutions you worked with. By using an existing infrastructure or programme, your outreach will be bigger.

LSM estates continously provokes discussions between architects and art historians. Some of them seem to forget that the housing estate is not just an architecture or an urban plan. The dozen of interesting forms of blocks are inhabited by several thousands of (no less interesting!) people. In our opinion, residents are the true practitioners of the Open Form theory in housing, and our task is to strengthen their perspectives.

Open Territory Foundation