Building a community of authors collaborating for a common good instead of a traditional “participatory” approach
This summer Comune of Milano asked 11 architectural offices to submit proposal for a temporary configuration for piazza Castello during EXPO-2015.
They wanted it to be “participatory” and thus they asked each office to occupy for one afternoon one of the 2 “Expo Gates” — new buildings representing Expo in the city. Then they’ve organised a public presentation, online voting and exhibition in Triennale Design Museum. However the process hasn’t been well curated and generated quite a lot of controversies, which we can discuss next time.
Now we want to make an introduction of our approach to the process.
A group of colleagues at Politecnico di Milano had been invited and they asked us to join the team and help with the “participatory part”.
We thus developed a blended strategy (online/offline) that in a couple of months collected almost 400 authors (from 45 countries) that diversely contributed.
First, concept and imaginarium of #nevicata14 (snowfall of 2014) was created taking inspiration from authors considering snow in the city as the moment of transformation and re-appropriation of space.
Then we started quite simply with Facebook page which was both a diary of project and a public arena to bring together people curious to collaborate.
It also was a virtual platform to collect and share first contributions from multiple authors:
On July 29th we occupied one of Expo Gates for an afternoon. This way it became a portal to access new vision of piazza Castello.
We have designed a number of activities to help people to collaborate and contribute. Those included:
- Round tables with experts discussing topics related to city and square
- Walks bringing people directly to the square in order to understand its qualities and problems
- Missions sending people to the square on their own to experience it in unconventional way and get some insights
- Vissionaire workshop with students working whole afternoon on the different visions of the space and its use
- Low-fi “augmented reality” — inviting people their ideasto draw directly on the window looking at the square
- Talk with the architect — a corner where architects were discussing and explaining to citizens their ideas
- Postcards corner — inviting everyone to submit their vision and ideas
All the material produced during that afternoon can be accessed in open Tumblr archive:
During event we engaged not only with people who came directly to Expo Gate, but involved a larger international (intercontinental and almost interstellar) network.
A design proposal came as well based on same collaborative approach and we built a story (pure fiction mixed with real elements, a kind of mockumentary) as a relational environment to hold all these elements together.
Story was also an allegory of new protocols for the mixed management (administration/power + society/subjects) of collective goods.
We presented it to public on Saturday 27/9/2014 (it went quite good).
After that online survey for citizens was launched asking them to evaluate the 11 proposals.
In November an exhibition in Triennale Design Museum opened and now Comune is deciding how to proceed with the process.
Stay tuned for the further explanation of #nevicata14 story