As you are in the process of organising the event, you can make publicity as you go along, but remember that the event itself lasts only a few days and involves a very limited number of houses. You need agility and different kinds of logistics to make everything suit the different locations.
The core idea of the event was to discuss with the house designers, face-to-face and on the spot, the early stages of the building, the solutions that were made back then, and have the opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts. The easiest way to do this is to go for guided tours or to use a common space (a club room, for example) for presentations with a video projector or photos.
It was a pleasant surprise to see so many supplementary activities that came on top of the core content. The idea was to discover the special features of each house and show a multitude of different ways of making use of common spaces. For example, the residents used the common spaces to showcase their skills (dancing) and hobbies (bird-watching), to put up a café… one group arranged themselves along a corridor and recited poems written about the building – the atmosphere was lovely. In addition, there was a multitude of shows, concerts and presentations by specially invited speakers. It might be cumbersome to plan these extra activities but if you do it well, you can create memories that the communities remember for a long, long time. The more you have people working on a programme, the easier it all is. In addition, many people involved almost always means free publicity as the participants invite their friends.
For many of the participating houses, residents and the house designers had gathered photographs that told a tale of the history of the building. Another nice idea that helps people get to know each other was to organise an exhibition introducing the residents of the building through photos, things they like or short, written greetings. In one of the participating buildings, each resident brought to the exhibition their favourite thing.
Issues with space
My House Arabianranta drew the residents’ attention to the lovely common areas they have. The event brought neighbors together and in many cases speeded up discussion about how to furnish the spaces or how to diversify the way those areas are used. In one of the buildings, people were able to find out about responsibility issues by having a Q&A with the property manager. Oh, and by the way, you have to check with the housing company board before organising an event like this.
Each building had a unique solution to the problem of limited space. In Flooranaukio 1, all participating residents brought one chair from their own flat in the beginning of the event. The next house borrowed furniture from a recycling centre, tested it during the event and bought it. In Gunnel Nymanin katu 5, Vallila Interior had sponsored the event by donating fabric with an urban print by Stefan Bremer. In Brysselinkatu 7, the new and yet unfurnished sauna locker rooms and terrace were covered with colourful fabrics and cushions bought at the nearby outlet.
You can have the event take place indoors or outdoors. If the weather is sunny, being outside can really boost the atmosphere and encourage the residents to use their common yard more often. Some of the event days were rainy or downright stormy. Don’t expect people to flock to the event in a weather like that. It’s darned hard to predict the weather, so think of a suitable indoor space for that plan B. The milieus that functioned the best were indeed comfortable indoor spaces with one or more balconies, brightened up by cheerful residents, snacks and some kind of entertainment. Towards the evening it’s nice to sit about in candlelight!
Open doors to common areas and guided tours to private flats work well regardless the weather. Common courtesy dictates that everyone take their shoes off when they enter, alternatively you can slip a cover over your shoes. What is most crucial for successful guided tours of flats, however, is the number of people wanting to participate. In our experience, 5–10 people fit nicely inside at once. Anything more and it gets too crowded. In a big crowd people easily forget that they are visiting someone’s home, someone’s very personal space that they need to respect. Often the visitors have a lot of questions, too, and it’s nice if there’s enough time to answer them.
Guided tours and other services
Something we learned was that in addition to making publicity beforehand you need to print an insane number of signs with the appropriate logos on them. For an event that lasts longer than a day, it’s a good idea to laminate the signs. It’s also worth your while to plan on a map where to put the signs so that you have some directing people to the right direction from the main roads, having some on the yard, some inside the buildings. The visitor shouldn’t feel at a loss in intersections or during long monotonous stretches, regardless whether they are on foot or by car. If all parts of the event don’t take place in the same location, it must be easy to move between the locations, and to get the people moving it helps to have a good reason for switching between places.
All the stuff and how to get it there
It pays off to make a list, with photos, of every item that is on loan for the duration of the event. Carry the list together with the items, that way it’s easy to check that you haven’t lost anything along the way. After a long day, after dark or in the rain finding everything can be harder than expected. The list helps you out here too, and when someone’s asking about a lost item, it’s easier to find if you have the list.
It’s also a good idea to have “I’m a local” stickers or other kind of tags for organizers and those who live in the event buildings. That way other visitors know who to ask for help and see whose home it is they’re visiting. You can also write the contact info of the event coordinator on the backside of each name tag in case visitors want to know more about the event concept.
If you want to have themed paraphernalia made, canvas bags or something, you should place your order very early on so that they will be delivered and can be divided and sold before the event. Artova has frequently used the simple and efficient Holvi banking service. If you have a particular brand or something else special in mind, be prepared for longer delivery times and the fact that it takes time also to plan and design the product. After the event, eager buyers are few and far between and getting them to the people you want is more troublesome. In any case, it’s nice to have a little something as a memento of one’s own house’s five seconds of fame.
Hope this helps you plan your own event!
Pictures by Tapio Rantala.
Translation by Pigasus Translations.