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Diverging utopias: designing conversations on futures and cities.

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Abstract:
The way we live is designed by the material world that we designed: a world we were born into and which is the only one we know (Fry 2008). However, it is now clear that in order to tackle unprecedented challenges, that very world and our interactions with it need to be questioned and radically redesigned, particularly in cities, where most of us now live.
Utopian thinking in a time when urgent action is needed might seem indulgent, but I argue it is an effective way to explore new optimistic possibilities for our daily life (and go beyond what we are familiar with), generate ideas, and most importantly map values and priorities. In design, this is known as a divergent step of the process, in which we create choices; it sets the scene for subsequent convergent moments, in which choices are made. A key aspect of divergence is that disagreements and contradictions are allowed and brave ideas are encouraged. As a designer, I am interested in creating platforms enabling this involvement in envisioning divergent utopias. Some of the key issues I am exploring in my research include: what are the conditions that need to be in place, and “how much” should we design? Who are the possible actors in this process? How best to capture the conversations in order for these utopias to become generative tools?
In this presentation I will show some examples of creative conversations in which participants reflect on the future by envisioning imaginary cities and communities. In describing each example I will unpick the processes and techniques that are used and what they can afford.
Finally, I will outline how I am applying this approach and some of the principles described in the examples to ongoing activities of design research and practice.

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Diverging utopias: designing conversations on futures and cities.

  1. 1. DIVERGING UTOPIAS designing conversations on futures and cities. Serena Pollastri - Lancaster University
  2. 2. - 80% urban population
  3. 3. - 80% urban population - climate change
  4. 4. - 80% urban population - climate change - unprecedented challenges.
  5. 5. - 80% urban population - climate change - unprecedented challenges. - “Smart Cities” Image: Foster+Partners, Masdar Development
  6. 6. “What would be ways to articulate collisions, instead of avoiding them?” http://blogs.lgru.net/collision/?page_id=2
  7. 7. VISUAL CONVERSATIONS ON URBAN FUTURES
  8. 8. _subjectivefutures.wordpress.com
  9. 9. _subjectivefutures.wordpress.com visual reports games platforms little magazines
  10. 10. self produced, self-published, independent magazines that the creators distribute by themselves (Duncombe, 1997). independent architectural publications that responded to social, political, artistic changes of the period (Colomina, 2010) _zines _little magazines
  11. 11. _Utopie, Sociologie de l’urbain
  12. 12. _Utopie, Sociologie de l’urbain
  13. 13. _colonne critique
  14. 14. “the fact that the critical column reacted to the text or the drawing was good; it produced fights, overlaps, critiques, everything you can imagine” (Jean Aubert, 2010) _colonne critique
  15. 15. ...in which players speculate on alternative urban futures. To play critically means “to create or occupy play environments and activities that represent one or more questions about aspects of human life” (Flanagan, 2009) _critical play
  16. 16. _Buckminster Fuller World Game
  17. 17. _alternate reality games: World without Oil
  18. 18. _collaborative game SYMTACTICS!
  19. 19. visualisation as both a process and an artefact. Use of visual language: a type of language that is able to describe data or ideas that are complex and/or have a non- linear structure. Visualisations as “thinking and reasoning aid” (Cross 1999, 32). _platforms
  20. 20. _imaginary guidelines
  21. 21. _imaginary guidelines
  22. 22. visualisation as both a process and an artefact. Use of visual language: a type of language that is able to describe data or ideas that are complex and/or have a non- linear structure. make ideas mobile, immutable, presentable, readable and combinable. (Latour 1998) _visual reports
  23. 23. _Lancaster as a sharing city making sharing visible and tangible
  24. 24. _Lancaster as a sharing city
  25. 25. _practical questions
  26. 26. _conclusions
  27. 27. _conclusions - Reclaim the “vision”
  28. 28. _conclusions - Reclaim the “vision” - the world we designed designs us. We take the world we are born into to be the world itself (Fry, 2008 reading Bordieu)
  29. 29. _conclusions - Reclaim the “vision” - the world we designed designs us. We take the world we are born into to be the world itself (Fry, 2008 reading Bordieu) - imaginary reconstruction of society (Levitas)
  30. 30. _conclusions - Reclaim the “vision” - the world we designed designs us. We take the world we are born into to be the world itself (Fry, 2008 reading Bordieu) - imaginary reconstruction of society (Levitas) - as part of scenario building “communicative artifacts produced to further the social conversation about what to do” (Manzini, 2015)
  31. 31. _conclusions - Reclaim the “vision” - the world we designed designs us. We take the world we are born into to be the world itself (Fry, 2008 reading Bordieu) - imaginary reconstruction of society (Levitas) - as part of scenario building “communicative artifacts produced to further the social conversation about what to do” (Manzini, 2015) - real > impossible > possible (Lefebvre)
  32. 32. THANK YOU. subjectivefutures.wordpress.com Serena Pollastri - Lancaster University s.pollastri@lancaster.ac.uk @sere_miru

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