In the world of design, the social aspects of spatial development projects drew more attention in the last few years. This switch has its consequences for the design practices. The part of designers, working together with a network of different actors, professionals and non-professionals, is getting bigger and bigger. It’s not the designers who defines a solution for an existing problem anymore. It is his or her task to start a search for new chances and opportunities, to accomplish positive changes in the future. This concept translates itself to the setup of collective actions and new alliances between designers and citizens, civil servants, entrepreneurs, activists, students, civil society organizations, academics and others who are involved in the process of creating cities and public spaces. This shift in design practices has a lot of potential. These practices of designing space show the designers how to play their role as a pro-active and socially engaged actor in society, which reaches much further than classic procedures and working methods. Some specific initiatives for urgent social matters, like the revival of slow connections to create meaningful public spaces, are a good example of this change of mentality (case 1 and 2). Another example is a construction project or a temporary installation, like the creation of an imaginary space to make meeting each other possible in a public space. It seems that these practices vary strongly, but have in common that they all aim to take care of the world. The question is how these collective practices enrich the social role of the designer in the creation of public spaces. Maria Puig de la Bellacasa (2011) developed a frame of mind about the matters of care within the context of science and technology studies, which offer the tools to criticise and observe this new mentality for designers. She pleads for an ethos of care and remarks that this is not only a matter for the techno-scientifical aspects of modern society, but that it’s also important and relevant in architecture and urban design disciplines. How can design practices contribute to a better future in a caring way? Keeping the political-philosophical concepts of matters of concern (latour, 2004) and the public concern (Mouffe, 1993) in mind, combined with the insights on care of feminist literature, Puig de la Bellacassa (2011) defines how we can apply this abstract and political perspective in innovative practices, aimed at social changes. She is convinced that “[…] the commitment to care can be a speculative effort to think how things could be different”. Designing in a caring way can be perceived in many different ways. Inspired by the frame of mind about matters of concern, I identify three different ways of thinking and working. Each of these methods makes it possible to focus on multiple momnets of social and spatial design processes. At the same time, they provide a guideline to reflect upon selected cases. The first method starts on the moment where designers observe the work field for the first time and defines the way of collecting knowledge. How can designers avoid some perspectives being excluded in advance? It’s the definition of ‘who is involved?’, but also ‘who cares?’, ‘why do we care?’ and ‘how do we care?’ (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2011: 96). The second method is about the way of interpreting knowledge, events and experiences. How do designers deal with conflicts in individual interests and shared concerns? What if, for instance, the individual parking space and an increase in the amount of collective green are placed opposite to each other? How can designers think and work past their own normative ideas, paired with and isolated position, convinced of their own truth? The last method is about caring as a verb. It’s about the vision on the world, which defines how you would change the world. Which role could designers play in making the matters of care visible, where designers mostly don’t give a lot of attention to? And, in which way translates this in concrete interventions?
Triggering lecture about the politics of "translation": Today we need faith in the future based on respect for who we are or who we long to be. This demands a radical change in the narrations that question and query the current state of affairs and generate new insights into what would otherwise remain hidden. The language we use has an extraordinary potential to push towards a widening of both cultural norms and formal regulations in society. Neoliberalism has been the dominant political and economic paradigm for the last 50 years. It has distributed wealth and power upward, influencing everything from government policies to business blueprints and global trade deals to collective agreements. Neoliberalism has also reshaped the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. Whatever else one might say about it, neoliberalism’s narrative power is undeniable. Yet today, neoliberalism is fading. As the model fails on its own terms, the intellectual dominance of the neoliberal paradigm is falling out of favor among academics, policy makers, and even the business community. However, those advocating for a more just and equitable system of political economy do not yet have a unifying philosophical paradigm or narrative framework. Therefore we question what deep narratives are needed to create a just and equitable economic system after neoliberalism. What strategies advance those narratives? What alignment among organizations and practitioners is needed to produce narrative change on a global scale? The commons re-appropriation movement has a particular role in the creation of those new narratives. It is increasingly present within our society as a (micro) social revolution practice that germinates on a small scale and embraces the complexity of relationships with other generative practices. Social design can play a fundamental role thanks to its innate ability to intervene at all levels in the construction of commons, on the level of the first revelation from the latent state, the activation of a shared social imaginary, the symbolic translation of processes into visual imagery and narrative, the activation of the fundamental rituals and celebrations and the transmission to the outside. In order to activate this complex role it is important to incorporate the strategy of participatory research that connects intervention with practical knowledge, social sciences, and technical disciplines, offering multiple answers which adapt to the context. In this reflection I would like to underline a practice-led strategy I am exploring in different contexts, that consists in a series of actions that are aimed at promoting climate change adaptation and the resilience of marginal systems. As a practical example I'd like to investigate the implications of language and terminologies embedded in dominant monocultural approaches whilst seeking to counter-verbalise them. How can one challenge the existing vocabulary underlying the politics of traditional botanical taxonomies and classifications? What new signifiers can agro-political practices articulate in order to question the power exercised through dispossession and exploitation of land, communities and biodiversity?https://www.parckdesign.be/participants/luigi-coppola
Presentation of multiple case studies about the politics of "translation". The case studies deal with designing large-scale infrastructures with communities, seasonal migrant labour in Borgloon, process design beyond the tradition of management thinking and participatory speculative performance and toolkit to rethink new laws for refugees.
Lecture about the politics of the "collective": A common world? Invoking, inhabiting, continuing a life-sustaining web We present a series of images extracted from “The Forest Underneath” to introduce a specific site where the politics of the collective are defined by unique alliances. “The Forest Underneath” combines materials shot on location inside and around the Hambach Forest, in western Germany, into an observational film. It portrays the last remnant of an ecosystem that has occupied the Rhine plain since the end of the last ice age – and a site where corporate exploitation, environmental degradation and activism coexist. The forest, of which only ten per cent remains, is set to be cleared to mine by the energy company RWE, and currently borders the largest open-pit coal mine in Europe. The rural towns surrounding it are ghostly ruins: their former inhabitants have been relocated, and displaced refugees have temporarily succeeded them. The forest, however, is a site of contestation and resistance. It has been a political standpoint for environmentalists since 2012, when a heterogeneous group of activists took permanent residence in self-built ‘barrios’ and treehouses, behind barricades, to protect it from planned destruction. The film depicts a common world not as something we come to recognise as if it had always been here and we had not noticed it. It rather approaches it as something we have learned to invoke through thoughtfulness and worry, but also as something that needs a strong sense of attachment and commitment to be inhabited. It thus involves “matters of concern” as proposed by Bruno Latour, and at the same time “matters of care” as advanced by feminist philosopher Mari?a Puig de la Bellacasa. Natural forces, species, technologies and materialities are entangled in the social, cultural and political life of contemporary cities and landscapes. How can we radically rethink our politics, our dealings with the ‘extended democracy’ of other species and things? How can we immerse ourselves, our bodies, in signals, in radically different, subjective worlds to let them interact and interfere with our worldview?https://paolopatelli.com/
Pazugoo names a constellation of objects, which are proposed as future markers for deep geological repository sites of long-term nuclear waste storage. The work takes its name from Pazuzu, the Babylonian-Assyrian demon of dust and contagion, combined with the ‘gooey’ reformulationof museum objects that form its composite body. The building of Pazugoos takes place through a range of artist-led processes and collaborative workshops, where freely available online digital 3D object files of scanned museum figures are edited according to the specific Pazuzu morphology - a figure with an excess of wings, with one hand raised upward. The resulting hybrid objects, inhabiting museum and gallery exhibitions, act as an index for the burial project, where models are proposed to mark underground perimeters of low-level radioactive waste disposal sites, connecting them to other sites of toxicity and the currents of deep time. The project is based on the search for cultural forms that can communicate ideas across hundreds of generations. Religious and secular belief systems are a significant part of the debate about nuclear semiotics and how to communicate important knowledge into the deep future. Weir’s projectcreates a thread of digitalmutation through replicating the figure of Pazuzu, who warns against dangers as intangible as dust and viruses, highlighting the invisibility and mutating force of radiation. Against the idea of communicating to future people like us now, and against narratives of apocalypse and salvation, the buried objects become mythic relics for unknown futures. From this speculative perspective, viewers today become relics for them, reflecting on our own entanglements within nuclear materiality. Bart Van Gassen, landschapsprojecten Kolenspoor en Stiemervallei
The Politics of Design: Act 1 exhibition presented works of 15 designers and collectives selected as participants in the 'Situated Actions' strand of the 15th edition of the international Participatory Design conference. UHasselt, Faculty of Architecture, LUCA School of Arts, Z33 - House for Contemporary Art, the city of Hasselt and the city of Genk present these 15 situated actions in order to address the debate on public space (in Hasselt) and on the politics of design. This 'first act’ was a first exhibition in a longer trajectory, that aimed for starting new collaborations on a local, regional and international context. The Politics of Design: Act 1 intended to contextualise participatory design practices that were part of the Participatory Design Conference by placing them in a dialogue with several local and international projects which will also be presented in the exhibition. The exhibition presented 3 thematic clusters that made tangible the politics of ways in which participation is given form. These 'ways to participate' are: BODY (participating as an individual and a physical body through practices of care and work), COMMUNITY (participating through and towards creating a collective through practices of commoning and representation) and CITY (participating as a stranger in larger scale networks, through practices of data production and collection, and contributions to complex challenges, such as sustainability). Selected situated actions encompassed Participatory Design-inspired exhibitions, interventions, participatory walks, public debates, performances and other interactive formats. The exhibition was curated and prepared by Mela Zuljevic, Jan Boelen, Ils Huyghens and Liesbeth Huybrechts