Call: Informing the design of the future urban landscape

informing the design of the future urban landscape

Workshop :: 17th August :: DIS2010 :: Aarhus, Denmark

Workshop website ::

It is envisaged that the urban spaces of the future will be saturated with both visible and hidden media that gather and transmit information. How we as physical beings connect with, interpret and shape the increase of data residing in our environment will be a significant challenge. The forms in which this data will be presented, and how we decide to conceptualise it, is as yet unknown. Will the technologically enriched environment adapt to accommodate human/city contact points, and, in response, how will we choose to interact with and navigate through, this information landscape? This workshop will identify emerging design themes by bringing together practitioners and researchers from across disciplines. Participants in the workshop will collaborate in a practical exercise designed to reveal issues that will increasingly impact upon the design of the products and services that will populate the urban landscape in the near future. The outcome of this workshop will be the identification of challenges that designers and technologists will have to address as they shape the media-rich urban landscape. It is hoped that this workshop would form the basis of a new collaborative network with the aim of taking this technological design research agenda further.

Participation and selection

As the aim of this workshop is to generate discussion and to collaboratively identify design issues, we would like to encourage attendance from a mix of people at different career stages, both creative practitioners and academic researchers. As interdisciplinarity is an important feature of this workshop, participants from a range of backgrounds in the fields of technology and creative design are welcome to attend.

Selection of participants will be made on the basis of individuals’ interest in the topic, as well as an overall balance of skills and backgrounds in order that participants can gain from the collaborative experience. If you would like to participate, please reply, including some information about yourself, on the workshop website :: by 4th June. You will be notified of your acceptance to participate in the workshop by 25th June.

Background & Approach

Today’s urban experience is enhanced by technology that increasingly enables simultaneous existence in both the virtual and real worlds. Such technology offers a number of bridges between these worlds but in so doing places an increased tension on the sense of place and subsequently the identity of the individual. Identity has many components that have to be woven in our everyday lives. It is postulated that in order to cope with the demands of our society, people must be capable of switching between identities actively and quickly while stitching these different identities in place (Hall, 1991). Humans have always been in constant engagement with their surroundings, often without being consciously aware of the process or nature of this interaction. By investigating the activities that currently take place in this liminal space we may be able to identify important themes and issues. Taking inspiration from ethnographic design research methods, the workshop will take an experimental approach to the recording of these human activities. By using the everyday technologies that people have to hand, the participants in the workshop will be provided with a new perspective on the traditional techniques that designers have employed, such as the creation of scrapbooks, mood boards and sketches. It is envisaged this approach will widen opportunities for participation in the design process. These can assist the technologists and designers of the future as they work to shape physical and virtual environments in such a way that they can be made sense of and manipulated.

Research questions

The workshop will seek to address questions such as: What form will the information landscape take? How will people adapt their behaviours and indeed how will the nature of the urban landscape alter as increased amounts of information is overlaid on the physical environment? What new products and services will be available given the increase of targeted information aimed at specific communities and interest groups? Will this result in an increase in segmentation and fragmentation associated with the urban experience leading to the possibility of the creation of multiple experiences of the same physical space. What will inform the visual aesthetic of the future information landscape?

The workshop will seek to explore the ‘bleed points’ where the physical and virtual worlds connect or indeed, disconnect. Examples will be drawn from advertising and product design (art works). Furthermore the workshop will focus on the small ideas that underpin the ‘big questions’ that too often overwhelm researchers. Indeed, it has been said that the ‘devil is in the detail’, subsequently the workshop will invite participants to adopt an attitude of curiosity as they seek to unpack the nature of peoples’ rituals, habits and priorities, focusing, in particular, on the potential for behaviour associated with existing technologies.

Workshop organisers

Michael Smyth & Ingi Helgason, Centre for Interaction Design, Edinburgh Napier University Edinburgh, UK

As the background of the organisers is in the field of Interaction Design, they have a research interest in how personal technologies are used and appropriated to record and share thoughts, times and places. Therefore, while this workshop uses technology in its delivery, it is an important factor in this experience that the technologies should be those that the participants carry with them (i.e. mundane) in their everyday lives.

For more information please contact Ingi Helgason ::

The DIS conference addresses design as an integrated activity spanning technical, social, cognitive, organisational, and cultural factors.

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