Transforming urban space part III
Design

Organizer

  • Matthew Dalziel, AHO
  • Even Smith Wergeland, AHO  

Call for abstract

This subpanel is part of the four-part session “Transforming Urban Space: Design, Democracy, Dwelling and Pandemic urbanism”. The four-part session argues that attending to the multiple social and ecologically crises the earth is currently facing requires different kinds of relationships between citizens and the spaces we design, construct and inhabit. 

This concern is addressed in four subpanels: design, democracy, dwelling and last, but not least, the impact of covid-19 on how we plan and inhabit public space.  

This subpanel focuses on the question of design.  

Dominant and mainstream definitions of design since European modernism have tended to emphasize the creative capacity of individuals to make novel solutions by manipulating material resources, organizing information, or delineating space.

Celebrated forms of architecture tend to focus on the creative genius and the iconic status of detached and autonomous buildings, with little concern for the messy, destructive and unequal futures that urban design has contributed to producing. As a consequence, architecture is sometimes built on a tabula rasa claim, a deeply colonial mechanism that annihilates nature and everyone and everything that existed on and with the land previously.

The question, then, is how can architecture and urban design move from being practices characterized by detachment and independence to practices committed to the ongoing relations of care with and within the urban environment? 

We invite papers that span multiple perspectives on the transformation of public space in relation to an architecture of care, from papers advancing theory within the field, to papers focusing on practical perspectives and case-studies, as well as papers critically discussing and reflecting on theories and practices concerning the transformation of public space.  

This is one of four sessions under the headline: Transforming Urban Space: Design, Democracy, Dwelling and Pandemic urbanism.  

This four-part session argues that attending to the multiple social and ecologically crises the earth is currently facing requires different kinds of relationships between citizens and the spaces we design, construct and inhabit. Sustainability tends to be about things and products, focusing more on what goes into a building (e.g. materials used) than in monitoring the ongoing and processual relationships with the building’s environment, people, flora and fauna.

Urban design tends to be more about controlling than creating urban life. Perceived “disturbances” are “designed out” through regulations, objects and structures that risk deterring democratic expressions of dissent alongside other activities identified as anti-social behaviour. During the pandemic public spaces have been redesigned to accommodate physical distancing – the antithesis of collective public life.

Accompanying these tendencies is a risk that urban space conditions modes of dwelling that repress acknowledgement of and resist response to certain signs of social and ecological neglect or injustice, and with it our ability to care for each other and the environment. This presents a key challenge in an age of social and ecological crisis: how can we adapt our ways of designing, regulating and inhabiting urban space so as to question and ultimately transform the power relations, neglects and injustices that are at the root of our socio-ecological predicament? 

The session addresses this question from four perspectives/panels: design, democracy, dwelling and last, but not least, the impact of covid-19 on how we plan and inhabit public space. 

Submit an abstract

We ask that abstracts limited to 200-300 words be sent directly to the organizers of the different sessions. Please see the session pages for details.

Please share this call with your colleagues or other interested parties. We hope to see you in Oslo come October!

On language

The conference primary language is Norwegian and Nordic languages, but many of our sessions will be conducted in English. All sessions welcome contributions in English, unless explicitly stated otherwise.