Start of Term 2 – The City

Well its 2014 and the start of a new term and a new lot of work to be done.  Today was the first day back after the Christmas break and the start of the field module. We were also introduced to our new brief for the term and at first glance it seem rather complex with no real description of the outcome we had to achieve. The project submission is May 6th and the brief is:


How do we define a ‘city’? What differentiates a particular city from others, or from the surrounding ‘non city’ space? Are cities similar? Is there such a thing as ‘generic city’?

Let’s all stop “looking at the city” and start “observing” every single detail in the city, think of the city’s past present and future each of us from our own point of view and discipline. How does the city or a particular part of it feel? A multisensory experience in the city.

“The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.” Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

How else can we “read” a place? What about the people living, working, being there? Italo Calvino suggests that we can find out a lot about the city’s past by looking in the details. How can we find information about the present, the existing situation? And, what inspires us to imagine the future of the city?

Be provocative be realistic be honest be a dreamer, be an optimist or pessimist – Everyone is different; this is about you – about your response and your view. Think what the city is / can be; start this by doing an in-depth research.

Your study should begin with both in-depth and broad-based research, both active and, if possible, interactive. It should be multi-sensory including, e.g. considering touch, smell, hearing and the wide range of visual approaches with which you are familiar.

Other possibilities include researching dimensions, physical properties, temperatures, contours, vibrations, human interactions, materials etc. You should also consider academic/ intellectual approaches: scientific, historical, social, technical, geographical, literary, material, statistical…

You will subsequently review and edit the rich research data-base and produce thumbnail roughs and notes which clarify your focus and your intentions for the second phase of the brief.

The city is in a state of constant change. The Product Design response to the city brief is to is to intervene into or to shape and anticipate that change. You are asked to identify an opportunity for a design intervention that falls within one of the three themes described in the city brief and to energetically create a well developed concept design proposal that is positioned within one of the following design strategies:

You could take an ‘Immediate Design’ approach to the city and think about a realistic solution that would not look out of place in the city as we know it today. You could take a ‘Responsible Design’, approach and rethink the city by engaging with the ideas and lives of the people that live there. Or you could take an ‘Anticipatory Design’ approach and think about the way that cities will mutate over time as technologies and cultures develop.

Which ever approach you take, the body of work you produce should be substantial and must communicate your idea, what is good about it, and how it works. This could include concept images, explanatory boards, models and scenario videos or story boards.


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