An outstanding feature of this project is the high level of professional expertise brought into collaboration with so-called “amateurs” from the neighborhood, and the success of a number of these enterprises. To date, the workshops have worked with over 50 designers, including Jean Paul Gaultier, and contributed to catwalk and other presentations at Paris Fashion Week and the Chabot Museum. Freehouse Neighborhood Workshop not only stimulated local and high quality cultural production, it also economically benefitted the neighborhood and its residents. In this way, it works against strong currents of globalization responsible for deindustrialization and the outsourcing of manufacturing from Europe to, among other places, developing countries in Asia.
As a placemaking initiative, there is little doubt that this project is successfully transforming Afrikaanderwijk. It is also developing a scalable model for urban revitalization based on local cultural industries, a model that may well be exported and adapted to different neighborhoods facing similar challenges. By placing the neighborhood on the map as a location for high quality fashion and textile production as well as object design, it provides residents with a shared identity that they can be proud of, in place of a communal identity fractured by social and racial tensions or conflicts. In terms of the artistic intention, the project has helped to develop a greater investment in, or commitment to, the public domain and public activities. Its success may be attributable, at least in part, to the artists’ immersion in the local community, the extensive research conducted to identify skills and resources in the neighborhood, and the expertise with which the workshops, as relational interventions, were conceived and executed.
All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.