Urbanism

 

Imagining Transitions: Designing a Visioning Process for Systemic Urban Sustainability Futures.

Idil Gaziulusoy and Chris Ryan

Thursday 11:00. Room A1.

urban transitions
systemic design
design for sustainability
Australia
 
Cities have become the locus of socio-technical and socio-ecological transition processes aimed at achieving sustainability. Sustainability transitions are defined by structural changes unfolding across different phases with varying pace and a large number of diverse actor-networks engaging over long-term. With these characteristics, transition projects are archetypal examples of wicked problems both during their conception and execution. The shift in transitions theory and practice from a sectoral focus to a focus on cities increased the systemic complexity that needs to be considered in transition projects with methodological implications. This paper reports and reflects on the design of a visioning process used in the front-end of Visions and Pathways 2040 project; a project that aimed at developing visions, scenarios and pathways for transitioning to low-carbon and resilient futures in Australian cities. Visons and Pathways 2040 project adopted complex adaptive systems view of cities avoiding considering city support systems in isolation from each other or from the built, social and natural environments they are embedded in. The visioning process engaged professionals, researchers and designers to build systemic visions in five iterative rounds in a half-day workshop. We discuss what we have achieved 

 
 
Visualizing the Sociotechnical System as an Urban Democratic Resource; the iCity case study.
 
Jeremy Bowes, Manpreet Juneja, Carl Skelton, Sara Diamond, Marcus Gordon, Cody Dunne, Davidson Zheng, Steve Szigeti and Michael Carnevale
 
Thursday 11:30. Room A1.
 

The increasing dependence of individuals on socio-technical and technological systems in urban life today, has provided an enormous amount of data that reveals user stories, and provides individuals with choices around how they integrate these systems into the quality of their urban life. Visualization and visual analytics tools can provide critical support for researchers, designers and stakeholders to understand these democratic choices related to human activities. Correlating and representing quantitative data from human actors provides insight, explanations for patterns and anomalies that aid in decision support as a democratic resource. 

The iCity urban transport project focuses on the development of data analytics transportation and transit planning tools that could increase individual and community participation to the development, planning, and design of transportation systems interfaces as a democratic resource. Through the combination of social media and mobile data with GIS, demographic, socio-economic, and transit data iCity researchers use tools to develop evidence-based User (persona) and Use types (scenarios) through data collection and form stakeholder and related individual user and community engagement profiles. As an interactive system resource iCity sets out the conditions for individuals and groups to highlight their needs /wants /values, participate in strategic planning opportunities as a democratic resource to realize outcomes. 
In this way designers and users can identify requirements, provide expertise around more general and fundamental matters of quality, equity, and social values, and a perspective rooted in the experience of urban systems as human experiences. This paper focuses on the comparative methodology and integration of user needs to create a more democratic system resource. 


 
 
Future Fest: a design concept for deliberative engagement in the urban planning process.
 
Christopher Pearsell-Ross
 
Thursday 12:00. Room A1.
 
systems oriented design
systems
design
democracy
deliberative democracy
urban planning
participation
giga-mapping
 

This paper presents the research and analysis process, and results (the Future Fest concept) of a school project in the 2016 Systems Oriented Design course at the Oslo School of Architecture and design, as well as some critical reflections. Taught by Birger Sevaldson and Linda Blaasvær, the course focused on the theme of democracy, and partnered with Tønsberg municipality in Norway. 

The research process and design proposal from this course are built on 4 conceptual models: the Three Horizons Model, as presented by Curry and Hodgson; the Pace Layers model, as developed my Stuart Brand; the Ladder of Citizen Participation, created by Sherry R. Arnstein; and a model of deliberative democracy proposed by the author. 

The Three Horizons Model, developed by Curry and Hodgson in their paper Seeing in Multiple Horizons: Connecting Futures to Strategy, connects systems and futures studies. It outlines an approach to futures studies built upon outlining 3 separate horizons: the present; the desired future; and an intermediate or transitionary stage. This method allows for divergent possibilities and takes into consideration different speeds of change within a system.

Stuart Brand’s Pace Layers model, developed from architectural practice, is a concept that outlines different layers within a given object of study (be it a building, a company or the whole world), each with different speeds of change. The model allows for analysis of change within a given system across multiple, interrelated time scales. 

Arnstein, in her paper A Ladder of Citizen Participation, develops a foundational theory model of participation as an 8-runged ladder, moving from non-participation at the bottom, through tokenism in the middle, up to citizen power at the top. Her model highlights the diverse range of participatory practices and establishes a normative hierarchy for practitioners working in the public realm. 

The author also presents a self-generated model of deliberative democracy, breaking down elements of a healthy, functioning democracy into four categories: formal structures, such as legislative assemblies; institutions, such as human rights and a free press; situations, such as high voter turnout, economic stability, and diverse political debate; and principles or ideals, such as consent, equity and self-determination. These four categories can be seen as blocks stacked on top of one another, reaching to the height of a healthy democracy. If the tower is unbalanced, democracy can be seen as unstable. This model helps to locate design projects and interventions within a range of interrelated systems within the broad concept of democracy. 

These conceptual models were used to create a research agenda and theoretical framework for problem definition and concept generation, focused on deliberative democracy and participation in the urban planning process. Working with Tønsberg municipality as a context, a week long site visit was conducted, with interviews and meetings with various stakeholders the municipal government, including city planners. 

Giga-mapping was then used as a tool to develop an understanding of the complex system of participation in urban planning, and a zip analysis was implemented to identify key areas for further research and potential intervention and innovation. Building on this systemic understanding, a series of semi-structured stakeholder interviews was conducted. These interviews helped to identify 5 key priorities for any design intervention: communication, trust, knowledge, capacity, and accountability/efficiency. 

With these key priorities identified as conceptual goals for a design process, ideation and concept generation began. Through sketching and modelling, a series of 34 potential design concepts were developed and then analyzed in a matrix, weighing variables such as systemic impact, synergies, thresholds, the 5 key priorities, and time frames. The Future Fest concept emerged as a clear front-runner, having low thresholds to implementation and high levels of potential systemic impact. 

Future Fest is envisioned as a collaborative, open-platform festival bringing together members of the public with cultural, institutional and municipal partners to reconceptualize the culture of participation around the built environment and municipal planning process. By applying the 4 conceptual frameworks as lenses to the learnings from the site visits and interviews, the culture of participation itself was identified as the critical locus for a design intervention. Cities are already hotbeds of activity and engagement – just not necessarily in the formal processes of civic consultation. 

By moving the fences, as it were, to include a broader range of participatory activities, led by a broader range of individuals and groups, the Future Fest concept hopes to normalize participation and engagement with the urban planning process. By situating the formal processes of participation (many of which are mandated by law) within a vibrant, diverse and open community context, it is hoped that a stronger culture of participation and engagement can be cultivated, broadening civic engagement, and at the same time diversifying the kinds of activities and inputs that are valued by the public service and political leadership.


 
 
Housing Horizons: Models for Real Estate and Community Investment.
 
Adrienne Pacini and Helen Kerr
 
Friday 11:00. Room A1.
 
affordable housing
housing system
foresight
systems thinking
community-building
 

Toronto’s housing system is in crisis. As we persist in maintaining this failing system, we are limiting ourselves to the possibility of creating transformational change. Toronto’s housing arena is a complex organism of competing interests and influences, reinforcing a stratification between those who benefit from it and those who do not. With limited housing choices, many Torontonians are left with few opportunities to invest in their communities and to generate personal financial wealth for their futures. Through foresight methods, systems analysis, and generative design research techniques, this project asserts that we can create change in Toronto’s housing system by transforming real estate investment from an asset into an inclusive and democratic community-building tool. Housing Horizons begins by describing the evolution of the housing arena in Canada and analyzing the dynamics at play in the current system. The research then proposes several design principles for innovation: shift the power in the development industry to smaller community-based players, create wealth-generating mechanisms suitable for renters, and foster collaboration across stakeholders in the system. A city where all citizens can thrive is only possible when the housing system contributes to the wellbeing of its entire population – this vision can be realized through strategies that level the playing field for all. 


 
 
Landscape of Emerging City Makers: the case of Rotterdam.
 
Jotte I.J.C. de Koning, Emma Puerari, Ingrid J. Mulder and Derk A. Loorbach
 
Friday 11:30. Room A1.
 
Transition Management
Sustainability
Participatory Design
Third Sector
Urban Planning
 
Cities are increasingly complex environments that inhabit different kind of people and groups that perform different kind of activities. The increasing complexity brings along challenges for the future sustainability of cities. Government, planners and architects are traditionally in charge of planning and tackling the challenges within cities. However, today, citizens and people of other professions also contribute to the debate; and not just that, they take charge, stand in the lead and are front-runners of the sustainable transition of a city. These non-traditional groups of city makers are sometimes referred to as bottom-up initiatives, grass roots or voluntary citizen initiatives; other terms to describe them are civil society, social enterprises, non-profit organisations (NPO) or non-governmental organisations (NGO). The boundaries between these terms are often blurred and used interchangeably (Simsa, 2013). Often these different groups are congregated under the general term third sector. The third sector does not have a specific theorization, or at least not one as established as the state or market (Corry, 2010). The goal of this paper is to characterize the new emerging types of city makers in the context of urban sustainability transitions, where governance creates space for “short-term innovation and long-term sustainability visions linked to desired societal transitions” (Loorbach, 2010, p.163).
An initial categorization is presented to allow for stretching the transformative capacity of these new city makers towards flourishing and sustainable communities.Context
This study of initiatives is executed in the Netherlands where the third sector is characterized by highly active initiatives that are visible in various policy fields (Pape & Brandse, 2016). The urban scale is the lens, often the scale the initiatives operate in, ranging from streets, to neighbourhoods, parts of the city or the whole city and sometimes beyond. Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands, is the specific case study city. It is recently receiving attention for its transformative energy and as a breading ground for new city initiatives. 

Data collection method
A list of 152 initiatives i¬¬n Rotterdam was collected over the course of six months. The goal was to collect basic information to allow identification and description of themes, topics and types of initiatives. In the literature background, an overview of the different definitions and inclusion and exclusion criteria for third sector initiatives will be given. For the data collection process these criteria have been used as inclusion criteria rather than exclusion criteria. This way the literature framed the data collection process and provided a board scope. However, there was a second criterion during the data collection of initiatives: on contributing to sustainability transitions. Again, this was considered in the broader sense and more an inclusion than exclusion criterion. The sustainability transitions contributions criteria included contributions to environmental and social sustainability, of cities, people and systems that connect them. 

Results
The data of the 152 initiatives allowed the identification of 10 types of initiatives that contribute to sustainability transitions in the city of Rotterdam. The 10 types of initiatives or 10 ‘types of city makers’ can be found in Table 1: categorization of types of city initiatives. Second, the 10 types are mapped according to their participatory focus in the city and their contribution to the sustainability transition of the city. The results of this mapping can be found in Figure 1: Mapping of the 10 types of city initiatives according to their participatory focus and their sustainable innovation focus.

Discussion and conclusion
The 10 types of city makers show that the landscape of emerging types of city makers is indeed diverse. If all the different actors would be aggregated under one general term and other stakeholders would address them according to the same criteria, specific qualities of each type could be lost. The mapping of the 10 different types of initiatives shows a variation in qualities according to two axes. Different axes could have revealed other variations in qualities but these axes were chosen also in light of the following conclusions that propose a more participatory way of working towards sustainability transitions. The goal of the mapping was therefore dual: to show the variety and to point towards emerging city makers for a more participatory focus in the sustainability transition of cities. 

To conclude, the new types of city makers are valuable for the sustainability transitions in general but more participatory networks could benefit cross-overs and accelerate the transitions towards sustainable futures. However, the different types should not be treated as one and the same, they should all be nurtured and stimulated for their specific qualities. New approaches should be able to include these different types of initiatives in the city making process. The interconnectedness and complexity of the different old and new city makers calls for more holistic, participatory and systemic approaches to creating solutions. These approaches need yet to be developed and systems thinking and design could greatly contribute to the development of these new systemic and participatory approaches. In order to develop these new ways of ‘participatory city making’ it is important to understand for whom and with whom these approaches need to be developed. Therefore, this landscape of emerging city makers that participate and contribute to the sustainability challenges of cities can be seen as a starting point. It is hoped that it can stimulate the development of more participatory approaches to city making in the future; and with that feed the debate of how these design approaches can enable systemic change.


 
 
Crafting futures in a Lebanese refugee camp: the Burj el Barajneh Souk.
 
Nihal Halimeh, Mahmoud Halimeh and Helen Avery
 
Friday 12:00. Room A1.
 
livelihoods
participatory networks
community empowerment
 

The idea behind this project began through an ethnographic study of the Bourj el Barajneh Palestinian Camp’s population. Through the research and the understanding of the camp on all levels the project aims to use architectural methods to address the political and social relationships within the enclosed city and its surrounding neighbourhoods. 

The sustainable and ephemeral Souk will empower an existing network of talent and craftsmanship; creating a metaphorical bridge that both connects and brings together segregated divisions on the political, social and urban level. The camp will be rejuvenated from within, as the Souk will assist in elevating the current population. 

This project begins on a micro scale by working with what is already present and building upon it, creating a sustainable living structure. An architectural configuration will regenerate what is stagnant and fixed, strengthen the existing craftsmen, and improve on the new ephemeral and temporary formation. 

The chosen space for the project within the camp is an already living and breathing organism. It is a social space, a market place and an area where the craftsmen have settled. After developing a master plan through different architectural strategies; concealing, constructing, regenerating and extending methods, this particular area stood out, as it’s already a platform with social, educational and industrial integrated programmes. 

The current Souk will be renovated into a space that connects to the present research circles in Lebanon for creative design projects, this will mobilize and utilize the camp’s local talent while developing and expanding on the current knowledge and concepts needed to support a sustainable economy. As the Souk moves into the macro scale of the project it will tie into business support projects; which include shared distribution services, shared administration platforms for cooperatives with micro-banking and micro-insurance programmes. 

o Maroun el-Daccache, Beirut: Architecture of conflicts, in Diagloghi tra Discipline, pp. 55-67. Ed. Statiozione Rogers.
o Students’ Final Year Projects. FYP 2014, American University. School of Architecture and Design, Department of Architecture and Interior Design. Architecture Programme.