UNIT 1

/

3A / 01:: DEMOCRATIC SPACES 2.0

Unit Master : Abhishek Bij & Niraja Adloori

Consider a scenario, wherein, before posting travel pictures on facebook, the user was prompted to state his/her annual income; while appreciating a colleague’s achievement on linkedIn one is expected to state his/her religious inclinations. While our digital world attempts to stay clear of netizens’ caste, creed, sex, political alliances our physical world is unfortunately still riding in distinctions. While some spaces this division is more obvious say a religious institution, most places this social, economic, political, religious divide is more translucent.


Can you fathom an anti incumbency political rally at Cyber-Hub? Isn’t ‘decent crowd’ a deciding factor for choosing the weekend nightout? Should not a universal accessibility of the side-walks be a prominent topic of discussion? Democratic Space, would be a place that is publicly owned, universally accessible, both physically and in perception; allows for a diversity of voices and users in all stages of design and occupancy; allows for flexibility of use; is freely used by all individuals and encourages freedom of speech and expression. Unit 3B/01 will engage in urban design conversations to understand architecture’s responsibility as a prominent contributer to any city’s growth. Ever since the height of the 1960s’ functionalist approach to architecture and urban planning, praising architectural geniuses’ such as Le Corbusier for their role as conductors of logical, aesthetic masterpieces, numerous different reactions have seen the light of day. The emerging trends have tried to put the focus on the inhabitants of the city and have tried to adapt evermore-inclusive approaches to urban design. This has happened in accordance with the democratic inspired processes of the 70s in almost all parts of the society. 


In the field of architecture and urban planning critical urban theory, as one of the most prominent reactions to rigid conception of cities, argues that “another, more democratic, socially just and sustainable form of urbanization is possible”. Critical urban theory, while is very well discussed in theory, fails to live up to its full potential when applied in practice. In contrast to almost all other aesthetic and artistic industries, the architectural branch still clings to an elitist, closed off process of creating cities – the most fundamental sphere of our lives.  Whereas sustainable urban development agendas put a big emphasis on environmental and economic sustainability, they largely overlook the third equally important dimension of sustainable development: The social dimension. It is however true that citizen participation as one of the ways to reach higher levels of social cohesion has gained increasing importance during the last decades. In an attempt to put people at the center of the discourse, participatory planning focuses on involving the everyday people in urban processes. 


Nevertheless, the conventional participatory planning practices, limit the influence of the people to the very first stages of design, and exclude them from further stages. It is often seen as an irrelevant checkbox, to cross off before continuing with the actual work. Consequently, our cities remain to be the product of architects and urban planners, instead of being the outcome of an engaging process involving the users. It is this kind of thinking that we shall attempt to make socially sustainable Democratic Design focusing on building with and for the people.


Playfulness : Ownership : Accessibility

The studio shall look to increase the engagement of the citizens within their respective proposal. We encourage play as a dominant emotion for design of such spaces.