The effort of trying to bring city improvement into the urban design is not something new in architecture…

The effort of trying to bring city improvement into the urban design is not something new in architecture. It is not a new idea of how we can allow people to participate into the design processes. The issue of the participatory design started back in the 60s and the 70s. Of course we think this general questioning and concept, visionary architects that we all know, such as Cedric Price, Yona Friedman, or Ron Herron making to their vision and to their ideas of architecture or spaces. They gave us frameworks that users spot to participate into creating the final form.  Nicholas Negroponte has been introducing the appropriate technologies for a computer-aided design. And especially, Nicholas Negroponte gave us an important contribution to that ideal participation through technology. He has been introducing a personal architecture in machine what he called a « design amplifier ». That was not only related with along with users to participate ; but it was more related into a kind of closed system of connecting the changing, needs of users, and society referred directly to a  mutation of space. Later we find ourselves, in the revolution of the internet 2.0, a revolution I think that Chris Younes commented the collaborative effect: the network. The fact is that we are not only consumers of information account, and we are also consumers of that accounted. That idea of user empowerment through information technology has been defined by different people, with different words with the new word of “prosumer” which is a combination of the producer and the consumer. Technology mediated user empowerment. The goal and the effort on that aspect is basically to start introducing ideas that sift aspects of standardization towards customization, ideas of segregation towards collectivity, topdown processes towards bottom up, stability towards responsiveness and the most importantly instead of designing for the people are trying to see how we can design with the people. Last year, at IAAC, we developed a super block project in Barcelona. A super block is an idea of reducing mobility into the urban environment instead of thinking of the block we are working on there are 3 per 3 urban block ; is an idea of the Superilla Pilot in Barcelona. When we have called to give some ideas of how this space would be designed, and instead of done to the final design, we have decided to create a kind of a game, a kind of a participatory process where we will be able to get feedback from the people. We have done another project last year in Mumbai. The people were only able to decide how they wanted to the interior distribution of the space, where the kitchen would be, or where the living room would be. So we have decided to do an experiment, based on technology mediated participation, that would not used, would not show as would be, let say received by people that they are not familiarized with the technology.  We are so able to get that feedback and go back ; and redefined how designs. To make participate people no familiarized with technologies, we analogue gaming in participatory process. We designed that participatory process and how we designed that open systems is becoming very important because we are also in a way introducing knowledge for those people and that they are going to inhabit the space. We are working on introducing more gaming process into that participatory. The model of unique design and unique decision is questioned and the user is empowered to change, customize and adapt the environment in real time, and that is a step further from the traditional drawings for the traditional processes of participation, we made different groups of users involved. What is the role of the future architects? We just design a final form or we are the mediator and the creators of design process? And if we are this kind of designer of the tool, the tool and the user, it is also interesting to see who is finally decided, and who is finally designing. It is a combination of the different agents, or how can architect start to create relationships that allowed the participation to happen with a more effective way. So the question of who decide is always important, but the question of who designed is something that it is start during today, it is everything much more accelerated with information and technologies on the different interactive technologies that allow the user to participate.

by Areti Markopoulou


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