Canal Dream synthesizes post-pandemic wellbeing, creative practice, and asset regeneration. Connecting the UK's most vibrant creative assets to declining canal assets through a moving Dream Boat. Using London's canal network as a frame and the Regent's Canal as a place to implement measures, we unite different disciplines of Dream-makers (freelance creatives) to develop a range of dream services (creative practices) along the waterways, including moving theatre, moving workshops, moving events, moving movies... in order to bring comfort to residents, vitality to the community, and care to the city; and also to give freelance creatives the opportunity to create and connect to the society; in addition, to explore the possibility of transforming the canal, an industrial asset of the past, into a creative and cultural space of the future.
Currently, we sailed through 6 Dream Stations on the Regent's Canal and have worked with over 90 dream makers. Most of them come from the top art colleges in the UK, such as Royal College of Art, University of the Arts London, Royal College of Music, Goldsmiths, Guildhall School of Music and Drama… And our dream supporters include private boats, community boat clubs, gallery boats, Inland Waterway Association, and London Canal Museum.
In May 2022, Inland Waterways Association invited Canal Dream to participate in Canalway Cavalcade 2022, which is the largest waterway festival in London. Then IWA awarded the Marcus Boudier Trophy to us. And in June 2022, Canal Dream was shortlisted for Helen Hamlyn Design Awards.
Canal Dream focuses on post-pandemic well-being, creative practice, and asset regeneration.
First is well-being. COVID-19 has potential mental health impacts across the life course. And after the pandemic, there is an urgent need for comfort and recovery.
The second is creative practice. The creative industry, among the most important economic forces in the UK, was hit hard by the pandemic. Freelance creatives need platforms to create and connect with society.
The third is asset regeneration. Canal’s rich past, silent present, and beautiful metaphors are the reasons why I chose it.
In terms of research methods, I’ve combined the deficit approach commonly used in service design with the asset-based approach commonly used by local authorities.
Deficit approach: Start with Needs. Response to problems.
Asset approach: Start with Gifts. Believe in Potential.
A city editor said.：“Few things symbolise the way our cities are transformed better than canals.”
The role of the canal has changed several times, from post-medieval as a transport system, to the Industrial Revolution, to welcoming a golden age, to declining in competition with railways and roads, and then to the growth of the leisure industry in the 1970s. Now, In this age of pandemics, these old assets can take on new roles, from transporting goods for industrial purposes to transporting well-being for recovery purposes.
Now, there are 2,000 miles of canals in the UK and nearly 9 million people live within 1 kilometer of canals and rivers. Also, this linear wetland is a valuable habitat for wildlife. This means that canals are so accessible green spaces. So I believe that the canal network has a huge hidden value in promoting wellbeing.
The city is an extension of the body. And the canal is an extension of the vein, they carry the tired people slowly forward, just as the veins carry the deoxygenated blood back to the heart.
Green prescribing links people to nature-based interventions and activities and includes both green and blue environments.
Similarly, Arts prescribing links people to local art & cultural activities.
Environmental theatre means not performing in a standard theatre, but in an unconventional space. It breaks down the boundaries of space between actors and audience, between movement and stillness. Gives an immersive interactive experience.
3 DESIGN DIRECTION
How might we develop a range of arts in nature services on the canal, based on green prescribing, arts prescribing & environmental theatre, in order to create opportunities for wellbeing, creative practice, and asset regeneration?
4 DREAM SERVICE
Canal Dream: Canal as a moving dreaming and dream-making space.
DREAM-MAKING & DREAMING SERVICE
Dream-making means developing a range of dreamy creative practices in nature and telling emotional & poetic stories.
Dreaming means that people can engage in it, and have personal and cultural resonance, aesthetic experience, emotional engagement, and empathy.
One group is the dream makers, the freelance creatives and students from art colleges.
The other group is dreamers, people who have access to the canal network.
The canal as a dream space.
The waterway as a dream diffusion path.
The narrow boat as a moving dream station.
DREAM COME TRUE
Bringing London's bountiful creative assets into the canal, a lost industrial asset, through a moving narrowboat, that carries dream-makers to make dreams and attracts dreamers to dream.
Our Dream service is an iterative process, as dream makers with different skills gradually come on board. Currently, our services include Moving workshop, Moving Theatre, Moving Movie, Moving Event, Moving Fabric, Moving Zine.
Provide a space for engagement through art in nature.
Create an opportunity for creative practice, well-being & asset regeneration.
To give comfort to people, vitality to communities, and care to the city.
To provide opportunities for freelance creatives to create and contribute to society.
FOR DREAM ASSET
To experiment with the possibility of transforming the canal, a past industrial asset, into a creative cultural space.
5 DREAM PROTOTYPE
London's canal network as the frame.
Regent's Canal as the place to implement the measures.
From fragile paper boats,
to an abstract boat,
to a narrowboat,
to a fleet of festival boats,
to a gallery boat
to a wide boat next,
Our dream boat is gradually becoming solid.
Moving Workshop | Moving Theatre | Moving Event
Interdisciplinary Creative Teams
Special thanks to the canal community and the creative community