The Parasitic University of London (PUL) critically examines the contemporary problems of institutional education, pedagogy and higher learning, primarily focusing on access to academic resources and educational programmes through the freedegree.org.uk website, a platform for mapping and sharing free lectures across London, and the Guerilla Lecture series, which brought academics to traditionally non-academic spaces.
The PUL Mobile Unit took the concept of unusual learning spaces one step further through the conversion of a moving van into a mobile lecture hall, complete with chairs, reading materials, a projector and a desk. The Mobile Unit then trolled the London Design Festival 2017 by hosting alternative and counter-lectures across London in front of scheduled Design Festival activities and workshops.
The Mobile Unit’s series of forums examined urban regeneration, sustainable design and collaborative design processes, and were facilitated not only by designers and academics, but social workers as well. Each forum was designed to be decentralised, without prescribed authorities or experts. Within the intimate confines of the moving van, an informal, open and democratic peer-to-peer learning environment was created, which promoted comfortable and honest sharing sessions.
The project was well received and gathered on average twenty to thirty attendees per lecture, many of whom were redirected on their way in or out of the London Design Festival’s programmes or in the area for purposes apart from the Festival. This latter group in particular forms the crucial target audience of PUL Mobile Unit, whose primary aim is to engage people who are often overlooked by or uninvolved in institutions in design discourse, via experimental modes of design education in non-academic contexts.