RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

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334 Elusive landscapes of ‘design’ in the city (1) - Co-designing the city
Convenor(s) Gabriele Schliwa (The University of Manchester, UK)
Robert Cowley (King’s College London, UK)
Chair(s) Robert Cowley (King’s College London, UK)
Timetable Friday 31 August 2018, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Room Glamorgan Building - Committee Room 2
Session abstract Although design was historically associated with the form of industrial and commercial products (and with the professional field of ‘urban design’), processes of ‘design thinking’ and the conceptual language of design have become commonplace in many spheres of practice and governance. In line with Richard Buchanan’s early understanding of design thinking as a ‘new liberal art of technological culture’ (Buchanan 1992), varied design processes are now advocated and applied across fields as diverse as public service delivery, democratic institutional decision-making, corporate management, international disaster relief, and even military operations research. This long-term trend has significant implications for urban space, not only in relation to governance approaches and new types of citizen engagement, but also in, for example, the development of infrastructural innovations, experimental and grassroots initiatives, the implementation of sustainability agendas, and the spread of digital/’smart’ urbanism.

This session aims to critically and constructively engage with emerging modes of governing and reshaping urban space and social relations through the lens of design. The scattered and elusive landscapes of design in the city we seek to explore include:

• Design processes that follow ‘the concept of co-‘ (Bason 2014) such as co-design, co-creation, co-production or collaboration and are often concerned with ‘citizen engagement around urban issues’ (Balestrini et al 2017)
• Design concepts previously used in the digital design sector and/or in the context of business innovation (e.g. service design, experience design, interaction design, interface design, human-centred design)
• Ways of thinking including design thinking and resilience thinking (Cowley 2017) or creative thinking
• Shifting identities, often from private towards public subjectivities, e.g. consumer to citizen, user to participant or claims about ‘citizen-centric’ goals (Cardullo and Kitchin 2017)
• Workshops, events or projects such as e.g. innovation labs, living laboratories (Evans and Karvonen 2014), civic hackathons or jams in support of smart or sustainable city agendas
• Cybernetic urbanism and aspects of environmental control (Gabrys 2014, Halpern 2015, Krivý 2016, Luque-Ayala and Marvin 2017)

Considering this variety of logics and activities, our session includes position papers as well as short provocations based on related empirical work, personal experience or theoretical considerations.

This is a paper session with respondents - one individual response for each 12 min. paper presentation, followed by wider discussion
Linked Sessions Elusive landscapes of ‘design’ in the city (2) - Designing urban citizenship
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2018@rgs.org
Co-designing cities with monsoons
Lindsay Bremner (University of Westminster, UK)
The monsoon is a planetary wide meteorological system that affects the lives of more than one third of the world’s population. Climate models suggest that it will persist in south Asia but that extreme weather events will occur more often and with increased severity (Walker Institute 2007). This is occurring at the same time as South Asian cities are being rapidly transformed, as industry, information technology and services replace agriculture as prime drivers of the economy. These dynamics pay scant attention to monsoons until cities are “uncannily” (Kaika 2005:51) beset by disaster - flooding, heat waves, water shortages, burning lakes etc. These disasters are not natural, but disasters by design. In this paper I will look at Chennai, the fourth largest city in India, from a historical perspective, examining three transformative moments in its planning history when its relations with monsoons were redesigned: Town Planning in Madras, a pedagogic manifesto by H. V. Lanchester (1918); the first World Bank Madras Urban Development Project (1977) and the Second Chennai Master Plan (2008). Drawing on Stenger’s notion of cosmopolitics (2005), I will then look at current citizen led initiatives that are attempting to redesign the city’s relations with monsoons as a way of reimagining its politics.

Kaika, M. (2005). City of Flows. Modernity, Nature and the City. London: Routledge.
Stengers, I. (2005), ‘The cosmopolitical proposal.’ In B. Latour and P. Weibel (eds.). Making Things Public, 994-1003. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Walker Institute. (2007). ‘The Monsoon and Climate Change.’ http://www.met.rdg.ac.uk/~sws05agt/walker_factsheet_India.pdf

Ontological Design for Intervening in Everyday Realities
Christian Nold (University College London, UK)
This paper explores the search for a new kind of design that moves beyond functionalist and commercial design and articulates its world-making potential. In particular it addresses the concept of ‘ontological design’ as described by Fry (2017), which seeks to articulate a form of politically engaged design that can create new autonomy and collectivity with the world. The contribution of this paper is to take issue with the way Fry uses the notion of ontology and to clarify and expand the notion of ontology into something usable and productive for designers. To do this the focuses on discussions of ontology as understood with in STS as a sociomaterial practices that create multiple realities in practice (Mol 2002). The paper suggests that a practice based approach to ‘ontological design’ would allow designers and researcher to ask pragmatic questions about which forms of reality are better to live with. In particular it offers new sites and setting for design that might previously not be visible. The paper illustrates this approach via a case study of applying ontological design to intervene within the context of Heathrow airport in London. The aim is to provide practical guidance on how to ‘do’ ontological design and suggests its potential for change.

Fry, T. (2017) ‘Design for/by “The Global South”’, Design Philosophy Papers. Routledge, 15(1), pp. 3–37. doi: 10.1080/14487136.2017.1303242.

Mol, A. (2002) The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Producing and reproducing the city - a Milton Keynes leporello
Darren Umney (The Open University, UK)
Milton Keynes was planned as one of the last UK new towns. Benefitting from the work of their predecessors in Welwyn Garden City, Harlow or Runcorn, the planners set out a strategic vision for a city that would set down a striking visual and conceptual proxy of the post-war consensus. While their plan was intended to be flexible to futures it was not always up to the task of handling the neo-liberal policies that were subsequently handed to it. This paper examines the design, construction and currently parlous state of Netherfield, one of Milton Keynes’ most unique early social housing projects which is currently the subject of a regeneration programme. I will draw on the archival research and visual materials produced during a recently completed Arts Council England funded project, Every House on Langland Road, which was exhibited at Milton Keynes Gallery in 2017 and the Architectural Association in 2018. Ed Ruscha’s 1966 leporello book, Every Building on Sunset Strip, provides a precedent and prototype for the collection, representation and reproduction of urban space in the context of how the city population was predicted, how its houses were produced, how its residents were constructed and how its future was compromised.
Co-designing zoopolis: design-thinking with urban animals
Clemens Driessen (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
Since the 1990s, when geographer Jennifer Wolch (1996) first called for a ‘re-animation’ of the city as zoopolis, urban wildlife has thrived – though arguably more due to its own ingenuity in adapting to urban conditions than a wholesale effort at taking animals seriously as co-shaping our shared environment. The increasing presence of wild and semi-wild animals in our cities is mostly still regarded as a nuisance to be managed, rather than posing a design challenge that includes nonhuman subjects as legitimate users of urban spaces and infrastructures. Building on existing work by artists/designers such as Natalie Jeremijenko and Ian Ingram, as well as some pioneering landscape architects and urban ecologists, this paper reflects on a set of design experiments in various urban contexts in Amsterdam (the Netherlands). What happens if we not just bring fixed, species-specific requirements to existing building projects, but engage in dynamic interactive learning processes in which the activity of rethinking urban spaces is not an exclusively human practice? Can we design not just for, but also with animals? Following the dictum of Claude Levi-Strauss, animals have become appreciated as ‘good to think with’. This paper will explore ways in which design-thinking with animals could help reinvent a more-than-human material culture.
Leadership and expertise in an age of 'co-' and 'self-'
Terry van Dijk (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
In an age of governments retreating and citizens standing up for themselves, processes of deliberation on the futures of places have become egalitarian. Citizens are ever more assertive and governments submit to the heat of the critics that reject what they regard as patronizing and authoritarian behavior of governments. This trend is combined with a philosophical relativism in the West, that suggests that every truth is just an opinion that cannot claim superiority over others. In this context, practices of designing-with-citizens, or designing-what-citizens-like have been applied extensively.
For some places and problems, opinions are not the only reality. There is a physical-functional reality as well with undeniable mechanisms. How groundwater flows, traffic congestion, pollution and ecological restoration work, to name a few, will not change because we ignore or reject these realities. Where do experts come into play? Are they accepted as such, and are citizens prepared to learn about parts of reality they didn't have a clue about?
And what if the citizens cannot find agreement, who exerts leadership? Is any overarching authority granted the right to tell what way to go?
This paper presents a number of short case studies, discussing the value of leadership and expertise in making places better.