The pub of the future

In recent years, the great British pub has drifted from its roots. What with big screens, music, app-ordering and gamification, technology is steadily transforming our pub culture. So, what does the future hold for the culturally sacred British pub? That was the question, when we scribed a one-day research workshop hosted by Northumbria University

The event was held at The Station House micropub in Durham; an intimate venue known for eschewing all forms of electronic entertainment. The workshop saw a wide range of attendees, from designers and practitioners to human-computer interaction researchers and alcohol industry stakeholders. With a strong focus on social wellbeing, the event was sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded network on Social Computing and Mental Health.

The workshop focused on the pub as a place of social bonding and drinking culture, in future. Participants were split into groups to discuss the different roles that technology could play in the future of social drinking.

Excerpts from George Orwell's 1946 article The Moon Under Water, which gives a detailed description of his perfect British pub, were used as prompts for envisioning their very own ideal of what a pub should be.

They are particular about their drinking vessels at the Moon Under Water, and never, for example, make the mistake of serving a pint of beer in a handleless glass.
— George Orwell

Whilst in Orwell's perfect pub 'it would seem natural to put the beer first', Lauren found herself visualising beer drones, 'pubr' (uber + pub), powdered alcohol, and even a pub-in-a-box. Her final scribe contrasts quotes from Orwell's article alongside the participants' tech-focused ideas. The workshop was a fantastic way to generate creative ideas and stimulate conversation.