Hi all! I’m involved in a project where we are exploring collaborative architecture/urban planning from the perspective of disagreement. We are currently looking for researchers and architects to potentially collaborate with.
The project is called Skiljelinjer, Swedish for “Lines of Demarcation”, or “Dividing Lines”, and is based around a digital drawing tool for creating collaborative design. Each user can contribute with additions of their own, and these additions are subsequently voted on by all users. Only designs who are controversial, as in having a certain amount of both votes for and votes against, are saved and included in the final design. Sort of like combining a collaborative version of SketchUp with reddit’s sort-by-controversial function.
We have received funding for building the app and to do several different tests with different communities on different sites. We hope to get some interesting learnings on the potential possibilities of using disagreement as a deciding factor in a collaborative process.
We in the team behind it are all artists, so we believe its important to involve a researcher early on to not make any rookie mistakes that hamper potential learnings down the line. We are also applying for more funding to produce a series of seminars and a handbook from the project.
Do you know anyone who might be interested in this kind of research?
The project also addresses double criticism of contemporary urban planning, where large construction companies draw, plan and build, in many cases without the participation of both politicians, architects, and citizens. The usual criticism of this is to allow citizens to participate in the process, which often leads to unsatisfactory results as the processes are poorly designed and the form of participation not thought through. By taking this legitimate criticism of urban planning but turning it upside down, we want to influence architecture in a more experimental and investigative direction.
This is interesting, and at first blush I’m having a problem on how this could be measured as a research question. This sounds like a quite interesting variation of the tyranny of the masses, but in a good way. Or is it just to capture this legitimate criticism of urban planning into a concrete (or possibly wooden…) form?
One avenue for a SenseStack (Dreams, Realities, Graphryder, OpenEthnographer, Discourse, Webkit) that I’ve thought about is placemaking and participatory urban design. It would be cool to have a full suite of tool that would allow place makers to use ethnography and SSNA in their process while documenting everything online, for example to counter the usual issue of “temporal exclusion” when office hours of citizens and public servants mean that they have a hard time meeting.
Dreams would be the digital documentation of the playful process. Realities would document responsibilities and dependencies that are found through the conversation. Front facing websites that show content from discourse would act as a dynamic shopfront for the project.
(Sorry for hijacking your thread @jakobskote, I just got excited!)
One of the things that comes up in my research is HOW participation in urban planning might look. I worked with a lot of urban planners in SG who desperately wanted citizens and residents to ‘participate’, but because the idea of what participation would be was underdeveloped, had a really hard time getting good engagement. People either didn’t want to because they didn’t see the point, or would basically troll the planners hehe.
So potential research questions abound. My work is trying to ask/show a) how people are ALREADY participating, if you pay enough attention (to participation as interacting with the city itself, not just as responding to a feedback questionnaire or coming to sessions structured by interests of the planners) and b) how we can incorporate that kind of participation into planning.
It’s not enough to just say “citizens should be more active” – more work has to go into imagining how they might want to participate and how this is already happening. We have to get more creative in imagining participatory design processes (which is why this project is really cool, @jakobskote!)
That’s why Murphy’s work is cool-- he talks about design as a social and imaginative process, not just a technical one. Here’s his paper about imagination as a material, social activity in design: http://hci.ucsd.edu/102b/readings/murphy2004.pdf
Haha, oh, the synchronicity! This is wonderful news, @amelia, looking forward to interesting discussions with you on this topic. I will take time and read through the papers you sent over this weekend, thank you!
If it’s ok with you, I will add you as a potential collaborator in our application?
This is one of the core issues we want to start exploring throughout this project, even though the application is framed in a more process and theoretic/artistic way. How to think of new interfaces for urban design, be it digital (like this app), social (through a practice, workshop, ritual) or physical (through actual urban interventions.) We hope this project will bring us more experience in how to design those, so we can employ this knowledge to more implementable ends down the line.