icecream architecture - delivering community architecture from an icecream van
icecream is a mobile, approachable + interactive organisation supporting communities to realise their projects, ambitions and potential.
The competition is only open to people between 18-34 years-old and resident in UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Does this apply to you
Country of residence of entrepreneur
Tell us about your personal background. Why are you passionate about this issue? Making an idea a reality takes innovation, dedication and strong leadership. Do you have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize your vision?
I am an architecture graduate who has always had a keen interest in working with community groups to establish cohesive community driven goals and deliver their realization.
I've been passionate about reversing the negative effects of poor community planning and developing methods and procedures to encourage successful social neighborhoods. In recent boom times, communities in Ireland and the Uk were not consulted properly about the projects that ultimately affected them. It is our hope at icecream architecture, that communities will lead the design and facilitation of their own projects with assistance from the relevant professionals.
I have the entrepreneurial get-up-and-go to make icecream architecture succeed for communities. In collaboration with my icecream partner Sarah Frood; I have been readily acquiring the skills needed and together, we have been progressing our vision into positive relationships and fruitful projects for community groups.
About Your Organization
Ireland, WX, Ferns
Country where this project is creating social impact
United Kingdom, GLG, Glasgow
Is your organization a
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The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
The architectural profession has perpetually based itself on tradition and regiment, encouraging a prescribed format to training and market. Almost paradoxically, it is a profession that requires fresh and innovative thinking to ensure its advancement and continuity. Unfortunately, the rigour and reliance on tradition has forged a divide between the professional and the ever-changing needs of the modern community. Many architect and developer-led projects for communities are delivered through conversations and planning that rarely seek the insights of the very people who the projects will directly affect. Community design consultations have become 'tick-the-box' efforts that rarely scratch below the surface of social issues and never work with the community as the key focus.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
icecream architecture is different. icecream is about embracing the community and involving them in the delivery of their design needs. We strive to get out into the public eye and change the perceptions of this closed-door process to community consultation and involvement.
By bringing community groups and participants into the loop, ownership of the projects is immersed within the group from the offset. It builds anticipation in the development of the projects and sustainability for long-term continuity. Through this collaborative involvement, connections, knowledge and relationships are established. The design process is then geared directly to the local strengths and how to overcome the challenges that are faced within the area. This solution also enriches the capabilities and confidence of the community.
Essentially, this approach leads to a level playing field where the developer/community relationship is stronger; the essential factor to successful projects.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
Our model and marketing strategy is based on a sociable and approachable platform for communities to feel comfortable with . Our ice-cream van mentality and our mobile office is the ice-breaker. It goes where potential communities go; festivals, family events, shopping streets, the beach, the moon etc. Once parked, we arrange our living room and promote design and locality discussions with parents while toddlers build sandcastles by their side. We give icecream with our website printed on the stick. We follow up on contacts made with the information they require, possibilities of grants for their projects and the direction that icecream could take them. The versatile ice cream van is equipped and ready for on-site visits and possible workshops to liaise with community groups.
Our workshops are about involving participants and encouraging team work and collaborative design. More than designers, we see ourselves as facilitators that enrich participants with the skills to design for their needs. We produce community reports and feasibility studies that document their opinions and needs. We seek funding to get the projects started and then, we really get our hands dirty, by assisting wherever we can in the implementation.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Although our obvious competitors are traditional architectural practices; there is a clear gap in the market for our type of approach. We are the only mobile planners and architectural designers in Ireland or the UK. We have discovered some ventures that roughly correlate to our idea but which we do not consider competitors by means of their location. These include:
Architecture 5¢, Seattle
Fantastic Norway Studio
The success of these schemes instead gives us confidence that our attitude can break the mould of practice here and sustain itself as a business entity. Our approach has been likened to Service Design; a new discipline that incorporates design and the delivery of service. We are comfortable with this comparison and confident that as architects we hold a niche for communities.
Select the stage that best applies to your business
Operating for 1-5 years
This Entry is about (Issues)
What is the social impact you have had to date and how you measure it?
We are changing the way that communities can connect with architectural and development professionals making connections easier and more fun. By designing creative processes and ideas that people can connect with we can ensure that urban and rural developments are working for the people that live and work in them. We create scenarios where we can support groups to work more effectively with the development organisations in the area to ensure that they can glean the most out of their project. The connections made at this stage can ensure that the community and the development can grow and adapt with each other as the needs of both parties have been fully explored from the outset.
What barriers might hinder the success of your business? How do you plan to overcome them?
The historical process of community consultation has often left communities and the development organisations at both a loss and in a deflated position. This is something that we currently have to overcome by initially offering a fresh and innovative process that is welcomed by both parties but most importantly to report back and deliver on the objectives outlined in the project. Often groups feel disheartened that they have been consulted and given up their time to make an effort to voice the community issues but have seen no outcomes. We overcome this by managing expectations and ensuring that feedback is and outcomes are met.
How does your model address financial, social, and environmental sustainability?
icecream architecture was established in 2009 and has been employing two full time members of staff since and has recently employed one part time member of staff. We charge for our services but are usually employed by a body that is acting for the community. We have developed a wide network of supporters and partners that regularly utilise our services. It has been core to our ethos that our relationships with groups go beyond the time that we are involved and that we regularly make contact with previous clients about the progress of the project. This strategy has seen us gain repeat business and referrals and we are showing a growth in client uptake. We utilise a very visual and on street marketing approach, having the van and placing it strategically at points of interest and in crowded areas we have found that new contacts and potential clients become apparent. We consider this strategy as key to the growth of the business and feel that it can be repeated in other areas to expand the reach of icecream architecture. We have already seen the business develop its Irish and Scottish market and would like to roll out the concept in further regions. At the core of our expansion we continue to support communities and hope that by expanding we can simply support more communities. Our current clients include Creative Scotland, Glasgow city council, the Irish Arts Council and the Legacy Trust.
Awareness & learning
How do you see social entrepreneurship contributing to the improvement of developing countries?
I think social entrepreneurship has vital methodologies and resources that could contribute to the benefit of developing countries and encourage an outlook that isn't based solely on profit.
Primarily, the awareness skills that are required to consider the often limited opportunities available and the methods to encourage their success would be extremely transferable between social entrepreneurs and people in developing countries.
Motivation and the self-confidence to think differently, are abilities that can be imparted through building relationships and guiding techniques. Social entrepreneurship can offer a platform for developing countries to create networks of learning and development among the
What aspects of your stay in Uganda as part of the competition do you think you will find most challenging and rewarding?
The Uganda visit will offer an opportunity to understand the culture issues that are facing these communities and how they are dealing with them. We see this process as something that would be directly applicable to our business model in seeing people triumph in adversity we can all learn lessons. Our experience to date could support us in quickly orientating ourselves with the problems which the communities are facing and hope that we could offer support where possible. We would see the trip as an experience that will challenge our understanding of social and economic difficulties but one that will reward us by teaching us how people can survive and thrive in adverse conditions. We expect there will be challenges on the trip that we cannot imagine but see this as an opportunity to learn, widen our understanding of Uganda and also to offer our skills both on the trip and in the future.