#networkedurbanism: design thinking initiatives for a better urban life

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Last year we introduced a pink #networkedurbanism banner on the right hand side of our blog. Although we briefly mentioned it in previous posts, we never formally wrote about this banner and what is behind it.

networkedurbanism

networkedurbanism

What is it about?

#networkedurbanism is a series of courses we – Jose Luis Vallejo and Belinda Tato- have taught for the last four years in different Universities:  Harvard GSD (2010, 2012, 2013), University of Alghero (2013) and Portland State University (Winter 2014).

#networkedurbanism studio aims to bring interdisciplinary problem solving to the forefront of our work by working on real-world issues and providing an alternative to the traditional way of designing cities. Networked Urbanism blends critical theory with hands-on practice, progressive thinking with social engagement, and research with reflection in action. The studio provides the framework for participants to find their own interests, their own means of expression, their own paths.

Due to the nature of this course, the results and outputs are extremely different as the topics selected by students mainly respond to their own interests and aspirations.

#networkedurbanism design thinking methodology

The ‘toolbox’ of the course includes 10 guidelines:

01. EXPLORE: a topic in the intersection between personal interest and “real” society needs
02. RESEARCH: become an expert in the topic.
03. NETWORK: Create a network (from citizens to experts). Explore the official side but also bottom up visions.
04. SHARE: confront and experience ideas outside your own desk, feedback is a treasure.
05. OPENNESS: start with a detailed plan and be prepared to disrupt it responding to its natural development.
06. THINK BIG: Design a strategic overall vision.
07. START SMALL: Focus on a small scale design that has the potential of the bigger scale.
08. ACT NOW!: Prototype and implement into real life at least a small but significant part of the design.
09. COMMUNICATE: reach a broader audience.
10. BEYOND: How can I develop my project beyond this term?

With this approach, and during the different courses, we have obtained great results. We are aware that working with real issues, real problems and creating connections with professionals is quite challenging, especially considering the time constraint of a term. But at the same time we truly believe that getting out of the designers’ comfort zone, and being exposed to real life, having to provide ambitious but feasible solutions give the students the skills and power to better face reality after they finish this stage of their education. Moreover, some of the ideas/projects developed within these studios continue beyond the course, in many cases becoming the professional thread for the students, who naturally grow as entrepreneurs.

Documenting processes and publishing results

In order to document the processes and the results of the different courses we created, with help of Wes Thomas and Montera34, a specific website where students could upload images, texts, documents and videos along the different stages of development of their projects.

You can browse the contents by their authors —to follow a specific project—, by courses, or by keywords that summarize all different topics or issues the projects have been addressing.

Networked Urbanism website - clic to visit

Networked Urbanism website – clic to visit

We are currently working on a book that will be published by Harvard GSD as a compilation of the projects produced at the studios we taught there in the Urban Planning and Design Department.

On a shorter term we are going to produce a series of posts which summarize some of the projects developed. Some of the topics that are more present are: PLACEMAKING, DIGITAL, MAPPING, WASTE, MOBILITY, RESOURCES, AWARENESS, EDUCATION.

In the meantime, we invite you to surf the web to see the results, that we hope you find inspiring:

networkedurbanism.com

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