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Rory Hyde Projects / Blog » Blog Archive » Potential Futures for Design Practice
"Here follows a brief survey of these new roles for designers, each representing potential futures for design practice.

The Community Enabler

The healthy boom of the past two decades has led the architect to become accustomed to producing boutique solutions for private clients; a comfortable scenario that has distracted us from our responsibility for society at large. By reconceiving the role of the architect not as a designer of buildings, but as a custodian of the built environment, the space of opportunity and tools at our disposal are vastly expanded.

The Renew Newcastle project, established and led by Marcus Westbury, illustrates the value of people in the improvement of a public space. While millions had been spent by local government on rebuilding the physical aspects of Newcastle’s rundown and largely deserted Hunter St mall, the simple gesture of opening up vacant spaces for use by creative practitioners and businesses has kick-started its revival. [5]

The Visionary Pragmatist

The stereotype of the architect as an obsessive, black skivvy-wearing aesthete who produces detailed artefacts of beauty is a pervasive one that may sometimes live up to the truth. This is a potentially dangerous perception however, as it promotes our interest in form over our value as strategic thinkers. By promoting our capacity to challenge the underlying assumptions of a problem and to develop responses informed by a larger context, we can hope to be invited into projects at an earlier, more decisive stage, and not as mere cake-decorators.

Chilean practice Elemental, led by Alejandro Aravena, views the larger contexts of policy, financing and social mobility as equally important territories for the architect to understand and engage. The multi-unit housing project in Iquique proposed a unique solution to the issue of the limited funding allocated per unit of social housing. By providing ‘half of a good house’ [6], and configuring it in a way that enabled future expansion, the residents can create housing of real personal value and utility.

The Trans-Disciplinary Integrator

The complex, manifold and integrated issues of today cannot be solved by architecture alone. To be truly instrumental, we need to open ourselves to new constructive alliances with thinkers and makers from beyond our discipline.

RMIT’s Design Research Institute, established in 2008 by Professor Mark Burry, is a research centre directed toward collaboration and information sharing between students and professionals from over 30 disciplinary backgrounds. By harnessing collective expertise, the DRI is able to address major social and environmental dilemmas that do not conform to the traditional boundaries of design training. [7]

By transcending our own expectations and limits, we can in turn recast society’s expectations of what we are capable of addressing.

The Social Entrepreneur

The economic crisis has been heralded as the end of architecture’s ‘obsession with the image’. What this hope overlooks however, is the powerful narrative potential of architectural communication in catalysing complex visions for the future. Deploying this power to address social aims allows architects to contribute meaningfully to the future of the city by posing the critical question: ‘what if?’

PLOT’s (now BIG and JDS) scheme for the Klovermarken park was developed in response to Copenhagen’s acute housing shortage. Through a media campaign which promoted their solution to provide 3000 units within in a perimeter block without sacrificing a single sporting field, PLOT were able to generate significant public interest in the project, which led to the government holding a competition for the site. Although PLOT did not win the commission, the project is proceeding nonetheless, providing much-needed housing to the inner city, and demonstrating the value of practical vision. [8] (I’ve discussed this project before in an earlier post on Unsolicited Architecture.)

The Practicing Researcher

Architecture’s current model of charging as a percentage of the construction cost does little to justify the thinking and intelligence that is embedded in the process. The inability to distinguish our conceptual value from our production-focused value that this model implies also means we are not natural candidates for projects that require the approach of an architect, but that may not result in a building.

AMO, the think tank of the Office of Metropolitan Architecture, was established precisely to focus on this type of work, by applying ‘architectural thinking in its pure form to questions of organisation, identity, culture and program’. [9] The project Roadmap 2050: A Practical Guide to a Prosperous, Low-Carbon Europe, commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, delivers on its title with a radical scheme of integrated green power generation stretching from North Africa to Norway. By not being constrained to any particular building commission, this research can operate at a scale that holds the potential for real global impact. (I have discussed this project further in an earlier post Whole Earth Rise.)

The Long-Term Strategist

While form is an important aspect of the architect’s repertoire, it is now just one of a larger set of tools directed at achieving results. The challenge of environmental sustainability has brought with it the necessary obligation that buildings perform as designed, and can adapt throughout their life to meet changing demands and targets. We can no longer simply design the object, but must also design the strategy of implementation and long-term evaluation as part of our responsibilities.

The Low2No competition organised by the Finnish innovation fund Sitra made these long-term strategies a central requirement of the design brief. [10] With the ambitious aim of producing an urban development solution in Helsinki that would over time be carbon negative, the teams were asked not only to produce an architectural vision, but a future strategy for delivering these environmental results. By looking beyond the immediate horizon of project completions, the strategist takes on a greater responsibility and interest in a successful outcome.

The Design Management Thinker

One of the current buzzwords in the design world at the moment is ‘design thinking’. Although it has many definitions, one interpretation is of the application of a design approach to problems in fields outside of design, such as business and management. [11] This is heralded as a potential means for designers to expand their reach and to reclaim their instrumentality and relevance to other disciplines.

However, we are also witnessing the rise of its inverse; a more threatening scenario whereby management consultants occupy the territory traditionally held by architects. As the role of cities in the globalised world evolves from simply being designed to deliver quality of life, to being speculative instruments of investment, governments are increasingly turning to financial and management consultants for advice instead of urbanists or architects. This is particularly true in the Gulf region of the Middle East, where McKinsey & Company has produced the Vision 2030 plan for Bahrain, and have reportedly also been developing the plans for Saudi Arabia’s new economic cities. [12] This potential future should be treated by architects as both a warning and an opportunity for coalition.

The Unsolicited Architect

The potential for architects to address the challenges of the future are limited by our reactive model of commissioning. In a concept outlined by Volume magazine in the issue of the same name, unsolicited architects create their own briefs, identify their own sites, approach their own clients and find their own financing. This requires a more entrepreneurial mindset, as the tools of architecture and architectural thinking are only powerful if they can be unshackled from the constraints of a given brief.

Faced with the planned demolition of the building where they have their offices to make way for encroaching gentrification, landscape architects ZUS created ‘De Dépendance’, a counter proposal to reuse the building as a centre for urban culture and a hub for like-minded institutions and businesses. [13] With support from the municipality and media exposure, they were able to turn around the developer, who now supports their proposal. By developing a viable alternative, instead of merely protesting, ZUS were able to steer the project to an outcome that is both equitable and beneficial for all parties."
architecture  design  future  practice  2014  roryhyde  marcuswestbury  elemental  alejandroaravena  transdisciplinary  markburry  klovermarken  big  jds  plot  amo  oma  low2no  sitra  strategy  via:ablerism 
february 2014 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Sketchbook: Print-on-demand work-in-progress
"The fact that things could be emailed, which is a prerequisite, also meant they were too easy to ignore. By making something easy to disseminate via email, you were also placing it in a fast-flowing stream of other objects… 

We wanted to exploit the fertile middle ground of “work in progress” with something that was a little more engaging, that would pull focus onto the discussions at hand, yet not so over-produced that the thing couldn’t iterate or evolve. Something that could be thrown around in a workshop—literally!—accessed in linear or non-linear fashion, carry visual and textual information, carried on the person, or remain guiltily within sight on someone’s desk. Something physical and digital' which might have an allure over simply digital, at least at the form of artifacts.

In other words, a small book. So a simple InDesign template later, and a not-quite-so-simple PDF upload a little later, a bunch of A5 books emerged via Lulu’s print-on-demand (POD) service."

[See also: http://www.helsinkidesignlab.org/blog/helsinki-street-eats-and-hacking-lulu ]
workinprogress  communication  email  oma  documentation  process  craigmod  printondemand  low2no  amazon  layout  jamesgoggiin  magcloud  dearlulu  helsinkidesignlab  sitra  newspaperclub  blurb  lulu  projectideas  glvo  books  indesign  pdf  printing  2012  selfpublishing  self-publishing  cityofsound  danhill  unbook 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Low2No smart services workbook - Low2No
"This work often involves positioning these otherwise technology-led areas in a more human-centred, and behaviour-oriented, framework — getting well beyond the hype about "smart cities" — whilst also trying to connect it to business drivers (the lack of the latter has hampered pretty much any serious progress in smart cities.)

A particular approach has been a focus on active rather than passive citizens. Too often such technologies can suggest an automation of processes without thinking through the behavoiural implications."

"Note: these print-on-demand books are designed to be updated. This is actually version 2, as you will note. So it is explicitly "work in progress", and that should serve as a caveat. (This was the first time we'd tried this approach, which we took further with the Helsinki Street Eats book: here, and discussed here.)"
customerjourney  finland  helsinki  helsinkistreeteats  smartservices  howto  activecitizens  human-centered  urbanism  urban  smartcities  personalinformatics  low2no  deliverables  methods  methodology  unbook  2010  2012  danhill  sitra 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Low2No Blog - Low2No
"The Low2No project is designed to help transition our cities to a low carbon future. We aim to balance economy, ecology and society through strategic investments and interventions in the built environment."
urban  society  ecology  economics  cities  low2no  justinwcook  bryanboyer  danhill  sitra  responsivespaces  green  design  architecture  urbanism  sustainability 
july 2012 by robertogreco

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