Design professionals embracing change coming from the shared society
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How are design professionals embracing change coming from the shared society?

Design strategies and public engagement are being redefined by new technologies for the architectural project of ‘the sharing society’

Design professionals embracing change coming from the shared society
By Editorial Staff -

“… to restore architecture and planning to a position where they can have a real positive
impact on society may even demand destroying the mythology of the architect as visionary.”
(Wouter Vantisphout) 

“…today, not letting others use your work can mean irrelevance.”
(Cathy Casserly, former CEO at Creative Commons) 


The call for submissions on “The Shared Project” of The Plan Journal (TPJ), vol.3 [2018], no.2 [Fall] explains:

New communications technologies, shared design platforms, interactive ways of engaging the wider public of design projects, as well as the explosion of social media itself, have triggered a series of changes that have gone beyond superficial fashion trends to really transform the way the project is conceived, developed, assessed, constructed and used.

The call continued to ask:

Are these changes a sustained paradigm shift or temporary cultural shocks? How is the nature of the architectural project being transformed vis-à-vis these changes in the economy, society and culture? How are current and future digital technologies going to morph the statute of the architectural project as we know it? How are the dynamics among the traditional professional design fields going to be revised? And/or which other professional expertise/s will emerge? How is the public going to be impacted by this change? How will the appreciation of the power of architecture by society at large going to change?

The TPJ seeks contributions, analyses, explorations, reflective practices and case-studies from a variety of perspectives, on these and other related questions, capable to cast a meaningful light on this massive transformation impacting architecture and its related design fields.


In his editorial “New Paradigms,” Maurizio Sabini, Editor-in-Chief of The Plan Journal explained:

Collaboration and teamwork, which was one of the most important and clearest tenets of Modern Architecture, precisely because it questioned the stereotype of the “architect as a visionary” (though still mainly on ideological grounds, thus not always effectively), has found in the latest technological developments the needed support, and has now become an obvious and inevitable condition for design practice. It is simply the need to more strongly reconnect architecture and design with society that demands it. (269)

We are presenting some of the thoughts and visions contained in two articles in The Shared Project issue of the journal that resonated with us. In “Collective Creativity in a Geodesign World: The DC-Baltimore Futures Studio,” the authors Jana VanderGoot, Dan Engleberg and Gerrit-Jan Knaap explain about “in the spring of 2018, [when] the National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) invited architects at the University of Maryland to engage a project called PRESTO (Prospects for Regional Sustainability Tomorrow).” In “Crowdsourcing + Shared Architecture,” the author Niloufar Vakil and Joe Colistra describe “a participatory development strategy that leverages the cooperative nature of a sharing economy.” Next, in the essay “The Sharing Cosmopolis. Prosperity without Growth” the author Doug Kelbaugh considers ways in which we can share “our assets, our services and places, even our activities and experiences” which, according to Kelbaugh, “may be our best hope to reduce the human ecological, energy and carbon footprints.”

Then, we offer insight about a case study and a project. In “Using Digital Data for Office Design. ‘The Case Study of the Agnelli Foundation’,” the authors Carlo Ratti with Antonio Atripaldi, Melanie Erspamer and Daniele Belleri “review a recent project from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Senseable City Lab, which used the analysis of digital data to better understand the use of office space and scientific collaboration on the MIT campus.” In “Un-cramming – A New Shared Economy,” Winka Dubbeldam shares a project that “propose[s] the next dimension of zoning, a four-dimensional hypercube that ‘un-crams’ Manhattan’s second- and third-dimensional congestion into a fourth-dimensional model of sharing (space).”

Finally, we share ideas regarding “the shared project” as it relates to the sustainable design of the built environment.

>> We encourage you to browse The Plan Journal and explore its issue dedicated to The Shared Project for yourself.


How are designers remaining relevant?

In “Collective Creativity in a Geodesign World: The DC-Baltimore Futures Studio,” the authors Jana VanderGoot, Dan Engleberg and Gerrit-Jan Knaap explain that “One of the important outcomes of the DC-Baltimore Futures studio was a newly found interest on the part of the regional planners from the NCSG in creative processes they shared with architects.” 

Ground view vignette: Soak City - first mutation. Fictional location in the Washington, DC-Baltimore, MD metropolitan area suburb, 2018.

Vandergoot et al. share that “for the architecture students, the collaborative cross-disciplinary studio was a rare opportunity to design at the regional scale and explore a new range of design ideas to inspire their work at the scale of the building.”

>> The abstract for this article can be found here in TPJ (in English)


In “Crowdsourcing + Shared Architecture”, the authors Niloufar Vakil and Joe Colistra realize that “the value created by architectural production has been one of the most stable and well-performing strategies for growing wealth. Yet, participation in real estate development is an impossibility for the vast majority of the population.”  

Merchants Row Brownstones (Denver CO, USA) exterior during the day.

Vakil and Colistra poignantly state that “through entrepreneurial design thinking, architects have the potential to ease the barriers to such community investment opportunities and share in the transformative act of building community.”

>>The abstract for this article can be found here in TPJ (in English)


Doug Kelbaugh’s article “The Sharing Cosmopolis. Prosperity without Growth” argues that “it is of paramount importance that we find ways to increase prosperity without economic growth, or better yet, to achieve degrowth.” 

The scale and repetitiveness of suburban sprawl are well documented.

Kelbaugh’s intriguing research suggests that there is a “huge new opportunity for reforming or replacing neo-liberal capitalism with longer-term thinking and more humane economics.”

>> The abstract for this article can be found here in TPJ (in English)


A case study + a project

In “Using Digital Data for Office Design. ‘The Case Study of the Agnelli Foundation’,” Carlo Ratti with Antonio Atripaldi, Melanie Erspamer and Daniele Belleri argue that “even if in the digital age we have the tools to work from anywhere, office design has possibly never been more important than today.” This article examines the “quantitative research by the MIT Senseable City Lab that highlight the importance of two key characteristics of contemporary office space: hybridization and proximity.”

A snapshot of wireless Internet usage on the MIT campus.

Ratti et al. suggest that “digital technologies are not only changing the nature of the workplace, but can also allow us to analyze and optimize” the design of these important spaces.

>> The abstract for this article can be found here in TPJ (in English)


Winka Dubbeldam’s article “Un-cramming – A New Shared Economy” posits, “The notion of sharing had long been discarded as an outdated and politically biased phenomenon of hippie culture, while individualism and personal growth became the new paradigm.” Dubbeldam continues to ask, “So how did it become relevant again?”

Hypercube viewed from East 39th Street.

Dubbeldam presents ideas that have taken “stock of where we are and where we want to go, as individuals and as a society” and points out that “recent political and society turmoil has made us even more aware that the future is fragile.” In order for our environments to remain habitable and healthy, we must take immediate action.

>> The abstract for this article can be found here in TPJ (in English)


How can embodying and enacting a cross-disciplinary approach to shared design projects ensure the sustainable well-being of our built environment?

We are always encouraged when authors like Rob Fleming and Saglinda H Roberts of the text Sustainable Design for the Built Environment “walk the walk.” Not only does the resultant of their research emphasizes the strengths of cross-disciplinary shared projects, but they also acknowledge the varied contributions needed during the process of their work:

There were so many people that played a role in getting this book published. Shane Clark was a graduate assistant who provided much needed research patience with the authors, and words of encouragement. JP Bhullar contributed her creativity and illustrator skills to design the Table of Sustainable Design Elements. Laura Parisi was the one who kept the office functioning while the writing was taking place. Laur Hesse Fisher offered critical help at just the right time on the Global Sustainable Design Chapter. Jazmin Toledo was the hero who took on the tedious task of sourcing a large portion of the book. A special thanks is in order for the 2018 and 2019 graduating classes of the MS in Sustainable Design Program at Jefferson University who made many sacrifices so that this book could be completed. Howard Ways, a longtime friend and colleague of Jefferson University, is responsible for the use of the word “Place as the fourth “P” in the Quadruple Bottom Line. Jeffrey Zarnoch’s persistent encouragement was always welcome. Thanks to the Healthcare Studio at Kean University for vetting the Bio-inspired Design principles and to Aidan Kleckner for acting as our enthusiastic student reader

This book delves into the “social, cultural, ecological, and aesthetic aspects” of designing the built environment and provides a framework for a “more inclusive view of sustainability.” Fleming and Roberts’ research studies the impact of design at a “global, urban, district, and human scale.”

>> To learn more, check out the reference: 
Rob Fleming and Saglinda H Roberts, Sustainable Design for the Built Environment (Oxon and New York: Routledge, 2019).

We hope this overview has further sparked curiosity about a topic that we believe is critical— the need for collaborative, diversified teams in order to maximize our strengths and plan for the sustainable well-being of our built environment. As professionals in architecture and its related design fields, we have a moral obligation to embody and enact the practice of such shared projects


Why support + read TPJ?

The Plan Journal is intended to disseminate and promote innovative, thought-provoking, and relevant research, studies, and criticism related to architecture and urbanism. The journal grew out of an awareness that academia is all too often engaged in research that’s disconnected from the real-world challenges that face different professions, and that research is only possible for a small number of professional organizations, and, even then, with limited platforms for its dissemination. The overarching aim of TPJ is therefore to enrich the dialogue between researchers and professionals so as to foster both pertinent new knowledge and intellectually driven modes of practice.


How does it work + why does it matter?

Prospective contributors are encouraged to submit proposals or complete manuscripts to the Editor-in-Chief. Subject to positive feedback, proposals can then be developed into complete manuscripts and submitted for review, using the dedicated portal on the TPJ website. 

After preliminary approval, manuscripts will be forwarded to suitably qualified people for commenting. TPJ is committed to following a rigorous double-blind peer review process using at least two reviewers. The Editor-in-Chief may also occasionally invite recognized academics, critics, or professionals (including members of the editorial board) to contribute to the journal without going through the peer review process, if warranted by the author’s reputation.


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