Enhancing distributed manufacturing and the circular economy in the city: city-making intended to enhance a distributed urban economy by creating new value chains, and the social networks related to them.

The common denominator of these quite diverse projects is their contribution to regenerating the urban productive fabric. This goal is achieved from different starting points (such as Fab Labs, digital and traditional craftsmanship, small industries, research centres, repair-reuse shops, informal “workers’ networks”, etc.), with projects converging in their common aim of creating new value chains, and the related social networks. In doing so, these projects enrich the urban ecosystem. In fact, thanks to the miniaturisation of several tools and the potentiality provided by a higher degree of connectivity – and, most importantly, in the perspective of a distributed circular economy – they can effectively bring production (and therefore jobs and the related social capital) back into the city.

Proposed projects

  1. NICE 2035: Neighbourhood of Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship toward 2035 (China Tongji University, Tongji DESIS Lab) (neighbourhood development moving from distributed campus activities)
  2. ReTuren. An upcycling centre in SWEDEN (Malmö University, School of Arts and Communication – Malmö University DESIS Lab) (a platform to explore how upcycling, making and repairing items can contribute to local sustainability)

Type of project

Projects that support and connect a variety of production activities. They enrich the urban ecosystems, bringing production (and therefore jobs and the related social capital) back into the city.

The main design disciplines involved are strategic design, product-service system design and communication design.

Open questions

  1. How can design enhance and connect urban production activities, in a regenerative circular economy perspective? In other words: how can it support socio-technical ecosystems in which sustainable urban production can thrive?
  2. How can Fab Labs, digital and traditional craftsmanship, small industries, research centres, repair-reuse shops and informal “workers’ networks” be integrated into the larger scenario of “new urban manufacturing”? How can unprecedented value production constellations be created inside and around the city?