Urban collective design environment online: EU launches the U_CODE Project
Stuttgart 21, the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg or the Dresden "Waldschlösschen-Bridge" – large scale construction projects frequently bear great conflict potential. Conflicting interests of residents, environmentalists, business representatives and politicians can clash and collide. When the public feels that it is not sufficiently involved in the planning processes, it can result in massive protests, lawsuits and delays. A new Europe-wide research project under the aegis of the TU Dresden WISSENSARCHITEKTUR Laboratory of Knowledge Architecture (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jörg Rainer Noennig) will now develop methods and processes that shall enable the involvement of the citizens and help to prevent escalations. Scientists from the Media Centre, the Dresden Centre for Digital Linguistics and the Laboratory for Knowledge Architecture collaborate with academic partners of the TU Delft and ISEN Toulon and with the companies gmp Gerkan, Marg & Partner, Conject and Optis as well as the Silicon Saxony Cluster.
"In principle, citizens' participation in construction projects is already possible; however in practice, it is difficult, in particular for laymen", states Torsten Holmer, Research Associate at the WISSENSARCHITEKTUR Laboratory for Knowledge Architecture. "Who has the possibility to go to the town hall during normal office hours and to understand the complicated construction blueprints and to form an own opinion based on this?" The vision behind the research project "U_CODE: Urban Collective Design Environment" sets in a lot earlier – before the public is confronted with the completed plans. A virtual space is to be created where citizens and professional planning experts meet and exchange ideas. Everyone – with a massive participation this might mean thousands of citizens – will be able to interact, put forward their ideas and discuss the proposals of others. Ideally, this will lead to the development of plans, which are based on a broad social consensus.
"You have to imagine this as a kind of public playground on the internet", explains Torsten Holmer. One example: There is a free space like in Berlin Tempelhof. The citizens can design and visualise their own plans online, to show how they imagine the future construction and utilisation and further develop these ideas with planers and architects. All projects are to be communicated in a transparent manner and are to be always highly accessible. This requires versatile interfaces between all parties involved. The actual challenge will be to derive implementable results from all those ideas and discussions. Extensive preliminary academy work is necessary before the software platform for the urban collective design environment can be created. Expertise for this concept is already available on a small scale. Initially, models shall be developed that show how this might work on a large scale. Moreover, solutions on how to assess potentially thousands of comments have to be found.
The research project "U_CODE: Urban Collective Design Environment: A New Tool for Enabling Expert Planners to Co-create and Communicate with Citizens in Urban Design" will be funded by the EU until July 2019 with around 3,6 million euro as part of the Horizon-2020 programme "ICT 19: Technologies for creative industries, social media and convergence".
Further information is available here
Details about the project and its partners are available here