Cities as organisms: imagining the future

Imagination Lab provided an intensive, creative environment for our MA Design Management students.

The task for the five-day workshop was entitled, 'Cities as organisms: develop a strategy to use design to make them sustainable and equitable.' Each day was devised as a micro-workshop, exploring different aspects of strategic design thinking and designerly ways of approaching problems. The days were themed as follows: Context, Making, Evaluating, Disruption and Storytelling.

On the first day, our students were introduced to various ideas, theories and challenges in relation to cities. As well as using traditional, manual techniques of representation and visualisation, the students were also introduced to digital tools developed at Imagination as a different way of sharing and comparing their ideas. They worked quickly to scope and then refine ideas toward a key theme they wished to examine further.

Day two saw us employ designing through making approaches and the value of prototyping to critically refect on design issues and strategies.

During day three we investigated the role of evaluation in testing our ideas and further refining them. This enabled the groups to hone in on how and why their ideas might create radical transformation in our cities.

On the fourth day we welcomed Professor Greg Keeffe, Professor of Sustainable Architecture, Queen's University, Belfast for an inspiring keynote presentation. Greg's provocative keynote, 'Citta Superorganismo' provided the perfect disruption to our thinking about the city through a number of his innovative and experimental projects. Through these he explained the role and power of design as a means of questioning the current strategies and problems of cities. Greg also emphasised the importance of design to transform people's lives and that the students need to be bold to save the planet - the time is now! He then stayed throughout the day for group tutorials during which he advised students on how best to reframe their ideas and approaches.

The final day was all about narratives. After four intense days of thinking, creating, decision making and testing, it was time for the groups to tell their story. We discussed different methods of communication and storytelling to ensure that the students explained their design strategies and methodologies as effectively as possible. The day concluded with a series of excellent group presentations and was followed by a small celebration by all. 

The group blogs, illustrating work in progress during the Imagination Lab can be found below:





27th of March 2014