Survival Village | SMASHfestUK

There’s a Super-volcano about to erupt in February 2017. Life as we know it is under threat…

Survival Village is the conceptual & engineering heart of SMASHfestUK [] a festival & outreach programme designed to increase diversity & widen participation in STEM through the Arts & Design.

Supported by:

Royal Academy of Engineering ‘Ingenious’ Awards.


There’s a Super-volcano about to erupt in February 2017. Life as we know it is under threat…

This is the story driving SMASHfestUK 2017. At the centre of the story is the question of how to prepare and recover from such a threat via Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine, the Arts and Design. The Royal Academy of Engineering ‘Ingenious’ scheme is supporting SMASHfestUK in creating a ‘Survival Village’: a hands-on installation that encourages audiences to understand and explore what’s critical for survival and what’s critical to rebuild society and culture. There’ll be the Survival Village itself – an interactive and immersive installation that allows visitors to experience the environments and technologies that they might need to employ in such a scenario, and the main volcano cone that threatens Deptford. This will be a World Record attempt at creating the biggest liquid nitrogen powered ice volcano, along with the community and visitors to SMASHfestUK.

To create the Survival Village and volcano, we will be working with 10 (or more) Engineers from commerce or academia, who are interested in developing skills and experiences in public engagement and mentorship.

Survival Village Programme

We’ve developed the following, our initial plan for the programme and events, as a means to consult with participants. These are our initial thoughts for reference and inspiration. We want to work with you to ensure that the approach and content is meaningful and effective. We are open to all suggestions to add, modify, extend and develop the programme and events based on your experience and experiences. SMASHfestUK is all about participation at every level.


Join us to help nurture social resilience in uncertain times, through engineering. Help transform: Attitudes, Approaches, Participation, Engagement, Applications

Call to Engineers to participate:

Are you a Civil, Structural, Mechanical, Chemical, Biomedical, Agricultural, Biomechanical, Geological, Sound, Production, Environmental, Electrical, Electronic, Computer Software, Computer Hardware, Design…Engineer?

Join us on the SMASHfestUK ‘Survival Village’ programme.

Join us to share knowledge, ideas & techniques. To work with like-minded engineers, scientists, designers & artists creating exciting engagement activities & installations. To promote engineering career pathways. To improve access to engineering. To develop your career. To build your community networks. To develop your ideas into real things that can make a real difference in inspiring young people in underserved communities.


What is our approach the Survival Village project?

The theory:

The approach and the output of SMASHfestUK and SMASHfestUK ‘Survival Village’ is based on a model called NIDS-M (Narrative and Inquiry Driven SMASHfest Model). Our belief that true engagement with STEM comes out of participatory experimentation and contextual problem solving – i.e. a Supervolcano is about to erupt – what do we have to do to survive?

A key component of the method is for everything to be driven by narrative-led scenarios – those being ‘unifying threats to humanity’ – that are underpinned with the real science behind the scenarios, real engineering challenges in preparing for or recovering from the scenarios, real engagement with the public, real participation across disciplines in the arts and design and with the public.

The practice – overview.

We will recruit our engineers in September/October 2016 and begin an online process of idea generation, information sharing and development of Survival Village ideas. These ideas will be brought together by the MDXDEM (for more information on MDXDEM see below) team for prototyping in October. Following this the Ingenious engineers, mentors and SMASHfestUK team will continue to develop the survival village ideas and deliverables, before testing the new Survival Village prototype at the Big Draw in October 2016. Following prototype testing, the Survival Village will be further refined until it is ready to roll out in January 2017. During January and early February 2017 we will take elements of the survival village into schools and community groups for outreach and public engagement training, and then the full new Survival Village will be launched at the main SMASHfestUK 2017 event: Supervolcano, February 16th and 17th 2017 in Deptford. Following this we will roll out the Survival Village for two, one day events in Woolwich and in Colindale.

1.  Kick Off meeting – Date and Time TBC – The Studio, The Albany.

Participating Engineers are asked to attend, but can be done by video link if attendance not feasible.

– Introduction to SMASHfestUK mission, approach and previous events.

– Introduction to the programme, its aims, and to one another.

– Initial paperwork for Ingenious.

– Show around Albany and Deptford Lounge.

– Pub.

2.  Submit Survival Village & activity ideas. Gather biogs for Ingenious Survival Village booklet publication – KO to mid-late October – Virtual.

All participating Engineers.

3.  The Big Draw/SMASHfestUK – Monday 24th to Friday 28th October – Middlesex University, The Grove Atrium.

Participating Engineers are requested to attend for the Big Jam (Tuesday 25th October evening) to help create, facilitate public activity & develop further ideas around the installation and activities.

– Unveiling of prototype ‘Survival Village’ installation.

–  Development of ‘Survival Village’ installation structure & activities with public & Faculty of Science and Technology & Faculty of Art, Design & Media staff & students.

– Live event in & around the ‘Survival Village’ based on drawing & performance.

–  Live improvisational multi-media performance ‘THE BIG JAM’ , with artists, musicians, dancers, designers, engineers
& public responding to the theme & the ‘Survival Village in a participatory and immersive performances.

4.  Public Engagement training – ½ day workshop with public engagement, mentorship, PR & safeguarding training – time and place TBC.

Participating Engineers are required to attend.

5.  Publication – ‘Survival Village’ booklet – ready for publication for use in events and outreach – End of November. “How to survive the end of the world… Understanding natural disasters and rebuilding our world through engineering (or similar)”.

Participating Engineers to contribute: Personal biography, an activities page, based around their engineering specialty within the ‘Survival Village’ theme.

– Contents:

– Intro/premise.

–  Background to each participating engineers’ discipline & that discipline’s perspective on the volcanic disaster & the survival techniques needed.

– Activities: ‘how tos’ & the engineering & science behind them (from each participating engineer).

– Profile/biog of each engineer. Their story. How to get into their field.

– About RAE. About Ingenious.

– Get in touch. Links for young people, families and teachers.

6.  Outreach – various schools in Lewisham and Greenwich in early 2017

Participating Engineers to accompany SMASHfestUK team on one outreach visit. Format is talk and demos to group assembly. Approx. 45 minutes duration.

7.  Guest Lecture at Middlesex University – Thursdays 17.00-18.00 – from November through to February. Open Lecture series led by School of Science and Technology.

Participating Engineers to give one talk, with visual aids (PPT). Format is open, but suggested content might include: about them, how they got into engineering, about their discipline, projects they’ve worked on/are working on, future plans, key issues in engineering/engineering education, key challenges facing the world from an engineering perspective.

8.  Further training and outreach work – one week before SMASHfestUK main festival – The Albany.

Participating Engineers will attend for one day, for further training, working with Young Science Explainers teams aged 16-18) to develop mentorship skills, and to work with visiting local schools around the Survival Village theme. Rota for days and YSE mentorship teams to be arranged.

9.  SMASHfestUK main festival 16-17th February – set up 15th, pulldown 18th.

Participating Engineers will facilitate public interactions, deliver demos/workshops, perform (during main stage shows, if interested in doing so), support/mentor/organise YSEs

Ongoing support from the SMASHfestUK with morning planning and afternoon debriefing/review meetings.

10. Woolwich ‘Survival Village’ pop-up – March 1 day – details TBC.

11. Colindale ‘Survival Village pop-up – April 1 day – details TBC.

Participating Engineers will attend either 11 or 12 to facilitate, deliver and support, as per the main festival.

12.  Final debrief meet – Date TBC – The Albany (& pub!).

For .pdf please email [email protected]


Royal Academy of Engineering ‘Ingenious’

Our purpose … To advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.

Our vision … Engineering is at the heart of a sustainable and prosperous society improving lives and opportunities.

Aims of Ingenious:

  • Inspire creative public engagement with engineering.
  • Stimulate engineers to share their stories, passion and expertise.
  • Develop engineers’ communication and engagement skills.
  • Create debate between engineers and people of all ages.


SMASHfestUK was successfully piloted in February 2015 in Deptford, London, where the Survival Village was the centerpiece of the narrative (“ASTEROID STRIKE: LONDON”). Festival attendees (children/young people/families) were invited to discuss what a future Deptford might look like, thinking about which amenities they would need (water, sanitation, building materials). Audiences were invited to build structures using basic engineering principles in the garden of the Albany Theatre, SE8.

In 2016, SMASHfestUK returned with a new narrative (SOLAR STORM) and the Survival Village returned in the form of the “SOLAR STORM SURVIVAL UNIT”, again using basic engineering techniques and problem solving skills to look at issues of construction, energy generation and energy storage after power networks and infrastructure had been destroyed. Using a narrative-driven and inquiry lead model of engagement with Survival Village, we have shown that we are able to engage diverse, underserved audiences.

We have received support and funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering ‘Ingenious’ scheme for 2017 to further develop the Survival Village concept to return to Deptford in 2017, and take it to new audiences into two new London Boroughs in areas of socio-economic need where communities are underserved by existing informal STEM education and Arts and Design provision.

The core mission of SMASHfestUK is to increase engagement and build capacity, not just with the public and audiences, but also with STEM, the Arts and Design professionals in academia and commerce. Helping professionals develop creative, hands-on approaches to engagement and experience in outreach delivery.


The MDXDEM –  Middlesex University Design Engineering and Mathematics – team are a group of staff who work with collaborative partners, such as – SMASHfestUK, The Royal Observatory Greenwich, Futurefest, The London Design Festival, The RAF Museum – and with students and the public to conceive, design, engineer and build compelling public installations and experiences that bring the digital and mechanical, technology and craft together.

A taste of previous work includes:

SMASHfestUK 2016: Design and Manufacture – DIY Planetarium – open-source, fully working domed planetarium for audience of 30, using everyday materials for less than £100.

Futurefest 2015: Design and manufacture – Neurosis (with Brendan Walker) – interactive, immersive mechanically augmented VR installation.

London Design Festival 2015: Design & manufacture – ‘Robot Overlords’ – interactive installation.

The Big DrawTrailblazers Award 2015: Design and manufacture – Live public immersive event, including participatory art, dance and music.

SMASHfestUK 2015: Design & manufacture – ‘The People’s Ark – Post Apocalyptic ‘Fridgies’ (with The British Library) – interactive installation.

London Design Festival 2014: Mechanical design & manufacture – Dezeen & Mini Frontiers ‘Stained Glass Car of the Future’ (with Dominic Wilcox).

Longitude Punk’d at The Royal Observatory: Design & manufacture – ‘Prime Landing’ concept, schemes and models. ‘The Globe of Dislocation’ mechanical interactive installation. With Yomi Ayeni.

Dornier 17 at the RAF Museum: Design and manufacture – ‘Apparition’ (with redLoop) – AR app and digital physical installation.

Contact Wyn Griffiths for enquiries.