Ezio Manzini      29.11.2107

We are currently working on a new DESIS Thematic Cluster to investigate if and how design for city-making can play a role in generating, or regenerating, urban fabric. We already did a workshop on this theme in Shanghai, organised by the Tongji DESIS Lab, and a new one will take place in Barcelona (at the Elisava DESIS Lab) in December 2017. These two workshops, and the other which will follow in the next months, aim at clarifying the theme and the specific research question on which we will work in the next 2 years.

For sure this Thematic Cluster (TC) will be part of the Thematic Area (TA) of “Design and the City”, that is one of the 3 main areas that emerged in the DESIS Map.  In previous communications the difference between TAs and TCs has been already explained. In short, in our case, it is the following: the TA on Design and the City includes all the projects that have the keywords Design and City in their description. On the contrary TC on Design for City Making refers to design research activities, moving from a precise research question and having a clear hypothesis of work.

In this initial phase, that will last until the end of January, we are still working on a better definition of this research question and of the related hypotheses of work. The discussion is still open and open is also the possibility to participate (if you are interested, please get in touch with the DESIS Coordination: desis.coordination@gmail.com).

Given that, to indicate the state-of-the-art of the discussion on this TC, here below you will find the beginning of the draft document presently in discussion.

  1. City-making concept includes projects with different social and political motivations and implications. That is, they can produce inequalities, segregation and commodification of the urban commons, or move in the opposite direction, reducing inequalities, creating a diversified and vibrant urban fabric. The projects moving in the first direction – that presently is the dominant ones – are driven by the interests of who considers the city, in all its aspects, as a marketable good (city as commodity).  The second direction is proposed, and shown in its concrete viability, by several cases of social innovation. They are driven by who see the city as a complex living entity, made of people, communities and places, the existence of which is based on a mesh of non-marketable systems (city as commons).
  2. To think and developprojects capable to improve sustainability and resilience at the city or at the neighborhood scales, a two steps process has to be enhanced:
  • To improve the city-making characterof the projects, considering their rooting in a place, their openness to different people and communities and their links with other projects.
  • To improve their capability to regenerate commons,considering the quality of the social values they directly or indirectly produce.