As I mentioned in a previous post, in architecture, theory should come near the process (practice) to set the theory as a legitimacy of the architectural object aside. I deeply believe that the architect’s role is moving from the design of spaces to the design of processes.
The first important repercussion to understand better how we (the architects) think and do is the possibility to apply these creative processes to situations beyond what is normally understood as architecture. One example is what has happened with the product design, evolving to design thinking and being applied to business, science and politics. From this point of view I think that specific architecture thinking exists, which is probably a variant of the design thinking that allows us to cover many complex situations from different angles than the usual.
Lately I repeat constantly the idea of transcending the discipline in one way or another, but I want to emphasize in this post, how the knowledge of certain processes of collective creation can help to improve the participation in architecture.
The aim is to develop processes that involve the participants: customers, neighbors, associations, companies, politicians, etc in the creative part of the projects and not only in the final steps just voting between few options designed by architects or designers. This paradigm shift and the use of the network capabilities could allow participation to be a real tool with great potential. And the architects, at the same time, are going to become mediators, mixers. We would give comprehensive formats to the ideas, and constantly think about how to modify the process and the tools to make the outcome interesting. This approach is closely related with education and the experience may become similar to a studio class in the university. I am convinced that the result of an architecture project worked out in this way would be very interesting. Besides, it would help the community, customers, etc. to feel more close with the outcome. This feeling implies the ability to transform and maintain the architecture that results in constantly change.
According to the participation and the investigation about the architectural processes, I want to share 5 projects, websites and tools. Although some of them have already appeared in this blog, I still find them very interesting:
1. Dott 07. Designs of the time 2007. It is an initiative about participative projects, events and exhibitions situated in the northwest of England. Exploring sustainable life in the region and how design can help to achieve this. It is a municipal initiative to be developed in 10 years and its objectives are focused on these five aspects of daily life: movement, health, food, education and energy. Initiatives such as the eco design challenge, urban farms or the design of a school with the help of his students are some of the most interesting projects.
Wouldn’t it be great if … the whole community decided how its new school would be designed?
2. Communityplanning.net.. “The community planning website helping people shape their cities, towns and villages in any part of the world” It’s amazing the amount of information we can find on this page about participative projects, from study cases and tools, to several methods with specific examples.
Mobile design studio: custom converted 38-foot recreation vehicle used as a design studio for community planning workshops in rural areas.
3. Brainstore. A team of designers who have systematized an industrial process of production of ideas. They are Swiss and talk about this system like a Swiss watch. With the participation of neighbors , teenagers, businessmen, customers, etc. they carry out a very interesting collaborative creative process. And it could be applied to participation in architecture.
4. Foam thinking. It’s a post on the blog Action! (referred to Albena Yaneva’s book “Made by OMA: An ethnography of design”) about a method or tool widely used in OMA, the foam. It talks of the foam as a way of making non-graphic diagrams and the material capacity to think with your hands quickly and effectively.
5. One thousand square. A participative project by Ecosistema Urbano for a square in Hamar, Norway.