How can design leverage social-innovation to orient city-making processes towards resilient, sustainable and collaborative cities? 

This question has been the general background on which the DxCM (Design for Collaborative Cities) Conference was built with a long preparation work [th a long preparation work [DxCC presentation].

The Conference itself has been held the 28th and 29th October 2018, in Shanghai, at the Tongji University, being organised by the College of Design and Innovation Tongji University and DESIS Network. DxCC was also a pre-Cumulus conference and had, as a content partner, SIX, Social Innovation Exchange. Most importantly, it has been the first big event in this roadmap of DESIS Thematic Cluster on Collaborative Cities (TCxCC)  (other similar events, developing the same research thread, will follow).

In short words it can be said that the Conference discussions moved from the initial question (that one quoted at the beginning of these notes) to the following emerging one: how can design (and design schools) help to bridge the bottom-up city making processes with the top-down ones. That is, how can design (and design schools) help to connect the grassroots initiatives (which are fundamental in every possible collaborative city development) with policies aiming at supporting them (i.e. the policies which are necessary to transform the grassroots experimentations in lasting collaborative socio-technical systems).

This new, more focused question appeared in the conference conversations triggered by a number of invited speakers: Lou Yongqi, Tongji, Ezio Manzini, DESIS Network, Ni Minqing, Tongji (who also have been the conference co-organizers) and: John Thackara, Door of Perception; Louise Pulford, Social Innovation Exchange; Francois Jegou, SDS; So Jung Rim, Social Innovation Exchange; Albert Fuster, Elisava; Davide Fassi, Politecnico di Milano; Adam Thorpe, Central Saint Martin; Fang Zhong, Tsinghua; Arzu Mistry, Srishti; Carla Cipolla, DESIS Network and UFRJ; Lorenzo Imbesi, Cumulus and Università La Sapienza, Rome.

More in details, the conference has been introduced by three keynote speeches presenting, each one of them, three possible and desirable scenarios:

        • the regenerative city;
        • the socially innovative city and
        • the collaborative city.

These scenarios have been followed by some city stories, presenting what is going on in four real cities (Seoul, Barcelona, Milano, Shanghai) where the ideas of collaboration are having the main role in shaping both the bottom-up initiatives and in top-down policies.

Given this wide and rich background, three main research topics, coming from the Thematic Cluster Collaborative Cities, have been presented:

        • Design for social cohesion;
        • Design for commons regeneration and
        • Design for urban infrastructure.

Finally, the discussion has moved to specific design strategies and tools, proposing different examples (by Tongji; Srishti; and Elisava) and points of view (by DESIS Network and Cumulus Association). Each section of the conference has been followed by round tables and debates open to the whole audience. It is from this rich debate that the one previously indicated as “the emerging question” clearly appeared, proposing itself as the core of the next DxCC Conference.

Speakers Programme
28th October

1) Opening  –  Ezio Manzini, DESIS Network (Click here to see the video)
2) Regenerative city. –  John Thackara, Door of Perception (Click here to see the video)
3) Socially innovative city – Louise Pulford, Social Innovation Exchange
4) Collaborative city – Francois Jegou, Strategic Design Scenarios, Brussels, Belgium (Click here to see the video)
5) Design for social cohesion – Adam Thorpe, Central Saint Martin  (Click here to see the video)
6) Design for commons regeneration. Davide Fassi, Politecnico di Milano (Click here to see the video)
7) Design for urban infrastructure. Fang Zhong, Tsinghua (Click here to see the video)

Discussion (Ezio Manzini, Fang Zhong, Adam Thorpe and Davide Fassi)

29 th October:

8) Tongji and city making, Lou Yongqi, Tongji  (Click here to see the video)
9) Srishti and city making Arzu Mistry, Srishti  (Click here to see the video)       
10) Elisava and city making    Albert Fuster, Elisava  (Click here to see the video) 

11) DESIS and city making, Carla Cipolla, DESIS Network and UFRJ  (Click here to see the video) 
12) Cumulus and city making, Lorenzo Imbesi, Cumulus and Università La Sapienza,Rome (Click here to see the video) 

Discussion (François Jègou, Albert Fuster, Arzu Mistry, Carla Cipolla and Lorenzo Imbesi)

 View all DxCC videos in DESIS Network channel (YouTube)