Humboldt Forum Berlin
News from strangers
In the World Studio of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, visitors are encouraged in an entertaining and unconventional way to exchange ideas about Berlin in the world and the world in Berlin and to become active together. A place for workshops and communication, for spontaneous participation and lingering. And an inclusive place for everyone.
The World Studio is characterised by three spacious elements that make it possible to experience and critically question methods for creating maps in a new way: the Thread Cartographer, the Person Cartographer and the Ball Cartographer. Together with the expertise of a focus group, we “inkl designers” have ensured that access to this exciting experimental field is designed to be accessible.
The Ball Cartographer reaches almost to the ceiling of the World Studio. What looks like an adventurously built marble run is also a map archive. Here, guests leave their own sketched directions to a personal favourite place. This could be the best ice cream parlour in Naples or an idyllic bench on the banks of the Spree. Once a ball is clamped into the Ball Cartographer, it nudges others with a dark plop. Finally, the ball that has been in the track the longest falls down and you can take out the map inside: the secret tip of one or another as a unique Berlin souvenir. There are tips hidden in Chinese characters or places that are not in any “Lonely Planet” travel guide.
We have developed prototypes so that messages in the Ball Cartographer can also be sent by blind people. With the help of stamps that are also inscribed with Braille and stencils with special markings, blind people can also participate in the creative exchange. In addition, there is a typewriter with markings for blind people that also serves sighted people well and thus builds bridges in a very uncomplicated way.
There are also other inclusive offerings in the room: At weaving looms, the Thread Cartographers, associations to the city of Berlin can be woven into a common carpet. In a fruitful collaboration with partially sighted and blind people, threads and fabrics were selected that are exciting to the touch. The handling of the looms was optimised for non-sighted people. There is an accompanying folder with explanations in Braille.
All prototypes and installations were tested and further developed together with a focus group, even under the difficult circumstances of the Corona period. In video conferences and with the help of audio descriptions for the blind colleagues, we were also able to learn a lot of valuable things for our daily work.
Another component of the participatory offer is the Person Cartographer. For sighted people, this is a huge outline of a person that can be creatively designed, painted and written on.
But how do you make this offer accessible to blind people? Large outlines offered too little orientation on the poster, so without further ado we made the poster smaller and provided it with a tactile outline. Other points of orientation such as the eyes and belly button are now also tactile.