What is the future of public spaces in 2040 and beyond? In a future where Americans are majority minority, education is more fragmented across sectors, there is less government funding for public spaces, less trust in media, and the aged and youth population have expanded, what are the hybrid spaces and hybrid organizational partnerships that could form to serve communities? Might we see public space intersections blending museums, healthcare, schools and for profit services? How might we design spaces that increase social cohesion, and foster direct conversation in physical spaces? How might we design spaces that serve both eight year olds and eighty year olds?
Through this hands-on collaborative workshop, participants will work in teams to create small scale models of public spaces reflecting concepts for systems and urban space design solutions addressing community needs. What real world constraints can be applied as design constraints? How can we extract the meaning behind primary source document data and apply that learning to addressing community and environmental needs? This workshop explores ways to leverage participants’ existing expertise in their local communities as they engage in broader civic questions through making.

What topics will be covered?

We’ll discuss ways to distill data and collect stories to frame questions for creating vibrant public spaces. We’ll explore ways that these reflections can guide us in re-imagining underutilized public spaces as essential community spots serving a range of needs. We’ll dive into a design thinking methodology including: empathy building, ideation, prototyping and sharing back ideas. We will also discuss the fact that, in order to design for the public, the public need to be engaged in the ideation and prototyping of their spaces. The workshop highlights that physical model prototyping can be a powerful conversation facilitator as we explore ways to collaboratively imagine systems solutions.

What exercises will be done?

Design thinking and empathy building through primary source documents and survey data exploration
Collaborative design of physical scale models representing potential future systems activating underutilized public spaces
Presentations of models with embedded simple circuits and systems concepts explored

What will the audience take away from this workshop?

This workshop offers an introduction to guiding creative teams in thoughtful design thinking journeys centered on urban space design and systems solutions for public spaces. The workshop highlights how to making of physical scale models can spark conversation, as well as synthesis of data and ideas. Participants will experiment with simple materials they might consider bringing into initial brainstorming meetings and they will develop a list of potential organizational partners outside of the walls of their institutions who can support their own workshops with feedback, research and data resources.

Any requirements for attending?

None. Just be open to collaborating with others and be ready to dive in to making with clay, LED lights, and cardboard! No expertise in design thinking, urban planning or design necessary.