Future tense: How might design futures methods enable place-based systemic change?
The definition of sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations” (Bruntland, 1987) directly translates into the urgent need for modern urban lifestyles to reduce consumption by ten times (Charter and Tischner, 2001). Achieving the quantitative indicators for sustainable development is a process wrapped up in broader behavioural and cultural change (Lockton, 2015) and will require new methods, tools and narratives (Beddington, 2010). Design can “change existing situations into preferred ones” (Simon, 1999). More recently, design expertise has been advocated as a “social resource for enabling local innovation which designers are enablers of collective cycles of generating and exploring alternative futures” (Jégou and Manzini 2008, Manzini 2015). Urban sociology, a field within social theory, provides a fluid understanding of cities as “place-based” sites of social encounter and division, as fields of politics and power, as symbolic and material landscapes (Tonkiss, 2005). Lefebvre’s (1991) treatment of space as a socially constructed product can provide a meaningful way to tackle the complex web of wicked-problems through locally contextualised approaches that focus on the role of actors (both individual and institutional) in the process of creating change.Corina’s research proposal is situated in the context of her work as senior designer in the System Innovation Lab at Forum for the Future, and builds on previous experience in critical design as architectural designer and urban researcher. The aim of her proposal is to develop a formative assessment of how design futures methodologies can help catalyse place-based systemic change. How might the fields of design methods and futures studies provide approaches to systemic change at a local level? How might design futures methods support actors in developing practices for place-based systems change?
8 – Urbanisation, Social Change & Urban Transformation