How can we imagine the future of cities?

Possible futures for our Planet è un’iniziativa promossa da Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Londra e Nesta Italia, che coinvolge studenti di design tra Italia e Inghilterra in un ciclo di workshop dedicati al tema della sostenibilità, declinato su tre temi specifici: mobilità, turismo e futuro delle città. I workshop sono iniziati a gennaio 2021 in collaborazione con IAAD- Istituto d’Arte Applicata e Design (Torino e Bologna), Abadir (Catania), Royal College of Art (Londra).

The cycle of workshops dedicated to sustainability concludes

“Possible Futures for our Planet” ends with the last workshop coordinated by John Stevens and Maxim Dedushkov, both Professors at the Royal College of Arts in London.

 This time the students tackled the theme “Future of Cities”, in a world where physical proximity is interconnected with digital life and at a time where people are rethinking the work/life balance.

The introductory session with icebreakers activities and team building sessions was fundamental: the participants had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of each others, encouraging the sharing of different of opinions. Everyone was given the opportunity to present themselves, to put the person at the center, enhance their ideas by listening to those of others, creating the right atmosphere for teamwork.

The challenge and the methodology

The first exercise was to define the challenge to be faced: the goal number 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals that the United Nations wants to achieve by 2030: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

The 11th SDG set the scene for the students’ work: the group was then divided into smaller teams; each one analysed a different sub-theme.

The methodology used was “thesis-antithesis-synthesis”, first developing a research on the issues related to each sub-objective, then proposing an early-stage solution and finally completely overturning one’s vision, thinking of the opposite solution. In this way, any critical issues of the idea were highlighted, and students’ critical approach stimulated.

The students’ proposals

Team number 1 had the task of enhancing the cultures and the artistic heritage of local territories. The students therefore proposed as a potential solution a format of scalable festival to be held in each city,  with the aim of promoting local cultural scene.

Team number 2, on the other hand, addressed the issue of environmental sustainability in cities, paying attention to new models of circular economy. Their approach was completely disruptive: they proposed a platform that connects art, scientific research and materials research, to stimulate the search for innovative solutions to complex problems linked to sustainability.

Team number 3 focused on problems related to transports and public spaces’ safety and accessibility. Students identified as a potential solution the creation of an app that guarantees immediate help for people in difficulty, with particular attention to the most fragile categories. The app will also be able to connect the many volunteers already present in many cities and facilitate their service by encouraging timely interventions in times of need.

Lastly, team number 4 chose to work on a practical example related to supporting developing countries using local materials. In fact, taking Burundi as a reference, the team decided to propose a platform that uses AI to understand which local materials could be used for the sustainable development of local areas.

The final project report

At the end of this initiative we will publish the final of Report “Possible Futures for our Planet”, where the methodologies and solutions developed in these workshops will be described in depth.

Thus, the work of the students from IAAD – Istituto d’Arte Applicata e Design (Turin and Bologna), Abadir (Catania), Royal College of Art (London), will demonstrate the importance of collaboration and that of  “Collective Intelligence” as a methodology useful to develop innovative ideas to face the challenges of the future.

We will share more insights and learnings from the workshops: continue to follow us on the blog and subscribe to our newsletter!