Monday, 18 October 2010

Nearly there

The 3 projects, Mapping Accy, Crocheting Accy and Animating Accy were present in the Market Hall on Saturday. Lots of people came and mused over the map (hopefully I'd not forgotten anything) to admire the colours and intricate shapes in the crocheting and to enjoy the voices in the very funny video animation. Here's the links Crocheting Accy and Animating Accy at

Oh and here's a preview of the map - more things to add (people are still sending me information) but this will give you a good idea of the direction it's taken. It's based upon the people, history and culture rather than the roads and car parks! Download a pdf of it here.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Acorn Trail

Things are beginning to jell but other ideas remain separate like the routes that people take around the town centre. Here's 67 journeys combined into one image. Then there's the Acorn Trail.

Thursday, 2 September 2010


Using iconography to describe something quickly without referring to details is a great way to communicate a message. Think of a toilet sign. It is also a clever way of helping people describe something complex by explaining the essentials eg man or woman. Applying this to the buildings around the town centre may hopefully give people the visual language to be able to see things in a new light, to remember them and to describe them better later on. Events throughout the year and historically could be represented by a symbol which some people would recognise and relate to.

Accrington Icons

Since rendering a 3D map I have been thinking about how to add character to it. Many centres have an illustrated map viewed from high, looking down on finely drawn buildings, nicely coloured in. But I want to take this project further. It was interesting that in the survey nobody described the fine architectural detail in the Town Hall or at the front of the Market Hall (apart from a couple of very knowledgable people). Even though I've been past them many times and admired them I couldn't actually describe them. I perhaps, like many people have become visually blind to what is around. Further to this many people who lived in Accrington didn't like the town centre and yet people from outside the area, and it was a surprise to us how many there were, liked shopping in Accrington more than their "home" town. So perhaps we need to look differently about what is here. If there was a dark tall modern building in reflective glass instead of the Town Hall then people would be able to describe it because it would be a big monstrous, ugly box but because the Town Hall is elegant, well proportioned and finely decorated then it's difficult to sum it up in one entity.

3D Map

Part of the problem with creating a map is how to give life to it. Linear roads and rectangular building shapes are how graphic designers decide how to render a town centre perhaps because their tools, vector drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator, are best used in this way. It's so easy to take a screen shot from Google Maps then plot lines around it. I've walked around the centre to get a feel for the vertical height to see how that affects people and the shops below. It's great to see people resting in the sun in the centre of Broadway or out-side one of the cafes at the front of the Market. I've rendered the town centre in 3D to get a feeling for the scale. Unlike many towns and cities it has no overpowering tall building so light gets through either on one side of the street or the other and, where the buildings have been sandblasted, the light reflects from the palish sandy-grey stonework. Most are Victorian apart from the shops around the Arndale Centre so the townscape has a unity (in scale) and if you look up you can still see Victorian rooftops and chimneys and be aware of where you are by the church spires. I would also like to study the topography but this may not be possible but the thought is there.

Monday, 12 July 2010

The Event

What an absolutely fabulous morning. Meet so many people with stories to tell and so willing to stop and write down what they liked about the town centre, and, of course, what they didn't. We got 152 responses and I already know there is some remarkable information gathered - how about the lady who got chopped in half! Then there was the person who wanted more night-clubs and, on the historical side, the one time importance of Warner street. There's a lot to sift through.
The event was supported by Huckleberry Films (link) and Matthew Lewis (link) so really looking forward to seeing their work.
Also fantastic to meet with everyone from Accrington Web who have been so helpful and supportive.
One comment I got quite a lot was the reply "we're not from Accrington, we just like coming to shop here." There's something going on in Accy that people like.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Saturday 10th July

The big day! We were interviewed on Radio Lancs yesterday (the Brett Davidson morning show - catch it again until 15th July). I'll let you know what happens in my next posting!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Saturday 10th July

Saturday is our big day to launch the project to get people to participate and tell us why they like coming into the town centre. It will all help develop a characterful map which will be used to promote the town and encourage us to appreciate it that bit more.

So on Saturday from 10am until about 2pm we'll see you all there and please fill in the questionnaires!

Listen to us on Radio Lancs on Friday 9th July.

Lancs Print

I was collecting some printing from Lancs Print and Steve asked me what I was doing over the weekend! I gave him one of the balloons. Remarkably he mentioned Shurmer and that many, many years ago they'd printed some maps and they might still be in the archives. How about that! I hope this project brings up more coincidences like that.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Nice sun-shiny t-shirts to make this Saturday morning brighter. I don't think the crowds will miss us! Does anyone have a machine to help blow up 250 balloons?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Here's the button badges. Nobody could decide which one was best so they all got printed. Look good don't they? What's your favourite?
Just seen the weather report for the weekend and not so good but maybe there'll be sunshine between the showers!

Last week I was working with D&AW on the promotional items for this Saturday. Saf grappled with the button badge maker pressing some 250 badges - will that be enough? The questionnaire leaflet is being printed, and the pens and balloons are hopefully on their way.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

What this is about

Instead of creating a map of the town centre based upon traffic and the road system we're taking a look at it from the perspectives of the shoppers, shopkeepers, families, the young and not so young, delivery people, market traders, those who work here and those who have to journey across it to get to school, college or work.
We would like to know why people come here, the routes they take to walk around the centre and what they like to see and do. We want to find out if the town centre layout influences the way people shop, eat, meet and the facilities they use.
The result will be a new ‘map’ of the shopping area with people’s thoughts, ideas, images, memories and stories to help other people appreciate the benefits at the heart of Accrington.