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Configuring the Caring City: Ownership, Healing, Openness

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... This infrastructure includes a system of mutual aid or an alternative, or add-on, to social security that otherwise encourages 'self help' or individualised ways of living. For Yamamoto, as the population grows older, systems of self-help are inadequate, and the aim of the local community area is to be a social support system that enables people to care and look after one another (see Bates, et al, 2017b). The local community area, as evident in the design of Seoul Gangnam housing in South Korea, includes shared facilities such as bathrooms, toilets, and kitchens, or environs that heighten the possibilities for social engagement. ...
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In the chapter I develop Simone’s (2012) understanding of infrastructure to discuss the interrelationships between the design of space and sociability, with the focus on loneliness. I suggest that the design of physical space, including the textures and compositions of materials, and their crafting and assembly, are constitutive elements in shaping how people come to occupy, interact with, and experience environments, and constitute the ‘possibilities and constraints for what can be done’ (Simone, 2012: 1). It follows that how people interact with each other is dependent, in part, on the infrastructural qualities of space, including the physical forms of buildings and the spaces in-between. I discuss three examples of ‘affirmative infrastructure’ premised on resisting the colonization of space by specific or singular values, and, instead, supporting people’s capacities to enter, access, and use spaces as part of a process to enhance sociability and wellbeing.
... First, the 'connect' idea correlates the quantity and quality of social connections with reported well-being and physical health. In the built environment, this is translated in the emphasis on designing everyday public spaces, especially at the neighbourhood scale, to create opportunities for people to see, hear and connect with others [49][50][51]. However, social interactions are also tightly connected with density and crowding, which have been linked with increased stress and anxiety [52,53]. ...
Article
The environment plays an important role in disease dynamics and in determining the health of individuals. Specifically, the built environment has a large impact on the prevention and containment of both chronic and infectious disease in humans and in non-human animals. The effects of the built environment on health can be direct, for example, by influencing environmental quality, or indirect by influencing behaviours that impact disease transmission and health. Furthermore, these impacts can happen at many scales, from the individual to the society, and from the design of the plates we eat from to the design of cities. In this paper, we review the ways that the built environment affects both the prevention and the containment of chronic and infectious disease. We bring examples from both human and animal societies and attempt to identify parallels and gaps between the study of humans and animals that can be capitalized on to advance the scope and perspective of research in each respective field. By consolidating this literature, we hope to highlight the importance of built structures in determining the complex dynamics of disease and in impacting the health behaviours of both humans and animals. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Interdisciplinary approaches for uncovering the impacts of architecture on collective behaviour’.
... This infrastructure includes a system of mutual aid or an alternative, or add-on, to social security that otherwise encourages 'self help' or individualised ways of living. For Yamamoto, as the population grows older, systems of self-help are inadequate, and the aim of the local community area is to be a social support system that enables people to care and look after one another (see Bates, et al, 2017b). The local community area, as evident in the design of Seoul Gangnam housing in South Korea, includes shared facilities such as bathrooms, toilets, and kitchens, or environs that heighten the possibilities for social engagement. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
In the chapter, I develop Simone‘s (2012) understanding of infrastructure to discuss the interrelationships between the design of space and sociability, with the focus on loneliness. I suggest that the design of physical space, including the textures and compositions of materials, and their crafting and assembly, are constitutive elements in shaping how people come to occupy, interact with, and experience environments, and constitute the ‘possibilities and constraints for what can be done’ (Simone, 2012, p. 1). It follows that how people interact with each other is dependent, in part, on the infrastructural qualities of space, including the physical forms of buildings and the spaces in-between. I discuss three examples of ‘affirmative infrastructure’ premised on resisting the colonization of space by specific or singular values, and, instead, supporting people’s capacities to enter, access, and use spaces as part of a process to enhance sociability and well-being. © 2018 selection and editorial matter, Olivia Sagan and Eric D. Miller; individual chapters, the contributors.
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has compromised the ‘healthy cities’ vision, as it has unveiled the need to give more prominence to caring tasks while addressing intersectional social inequities and environmental injustices. However, much-needed transdisciplinary approaches to study and address post-COVID-19 healthy cities challenges and agendas have been scarce so far. To address this gap, we propose a ‘just ecofeminist healthy cities’ research approach, which would be informed by the caring city, environmental justice, just ecofeminist sustainability and the healthy cities paradigms and research fields. Our proposed approach aims to achieve the highest standards of human health possible for the whole population—yet putting the health of socially underprivileged residents in the centre—through preserving and/or improving the existing physical, social and political environment. Importantly, the proposed approach recognises all spheres of daily life (productive, reproductive, personal and political) and their connections with inequities, justice and power dynamics. Last, the just ecofeminist healthy cities approach understands human health as interconnected with the health of non-human animals and the ecosystem. We illustrate the proposed new approach focusing on the implications for women’s health and public green spaces research and propose principles and practices for its operationalisation.
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In 2017, the first Does Design Care...? workshop at Imagination Lancaster asked a series of question that were eventually addressed in both the publication of "The Lancaster Care Charter" (Design Issues 35:1 2019) and the DDC…? Book. Similarly, in 2019 the second Does Design Care…? workshop in Chiba, Japan, asked more questions but this time the questions came from the participants. To participate in the Does Design Care [2]…? workshop applicants had to send a 1000 word position paper from which a number of questions emerged; questions we thought needed debate not just discussion (a bit of a beating rather than a mere shakeup). The questions are listed at the end of this introduction. It is important to make clear the questions arose from what the participants were saying. In order to familiarise themselves with the questions they were sent to all participants in advance of the workshop. On the first morning of the workshop participants were randomly paired for what we called Head-to-Head debates. Each pair was randomly assigned one of the 25 questions to explore and contend in greater detail. They were required to record (audio, notes, images, examples) their debate and at later stage in the workshop each pair presented what they had been debating to the rest of the participants. After the workshop each pair had to transcribe, edit, and enrich with visuals, their debate, all of which has been collected into this publication. Like the first workshop in Lancaster the Chiba workshop was a thinking, making and doing workshop that explored different ways to explore, conceptualise, provoke, contest and disrupt care, and the various outputs serve to synthesise future visions of care. Unlike the Lancaster workshop, a strong conviction coming from the participants was that design can and does empathise and therefore design can and does care. What-design-can-do is embedded in its historic belief in the design of what-might-become. But as we have written elsewhere, in reality design’s future has to confront what-might-not-become. And what-might-not-become has to confront the uncomfortable reality that design might not be able to do what it believes it can do. Care, being invisible, is a good test for what in reality design can do. Rebecca Solnit questions empathy when she writes “There’s a currently popular argument that books help us feel empathy, but if they do so they do it by helping us imagine that we are people we are not”. For design to care through empathy it might just be that design, continuing to advocate what-might-become, is producing designers who imagine they are people they are not. We have asked before whether design’s attraction to care is just opportunistic. And we wonder whether the allure of empathy for design to want to transact with care because, care is becoming elitist as Yuval Harari explains: “...because it rejects the idea of a universal standard applicable to all, and seeks to give some individuals an edge over others. People want superior memories, above-average intelligence and first-class sexual abilities.” (Harari, Homo Deus, p6) Foucault pointed out that diagnosing what is ill is always equally about enforcing what is healthy. These workshops have been diagnosing whether design cares and in this sense they have also been enforcing what-might-become of design. DDC[2]…? Questions What was Design doing before it latched on to Care? Should Design Care? What was Design doing before it latched on to empathy? Where will all of this caring get us? How might we best Design Care? How might we best Bespoke Care? What should we (Design) care about? What should we (Design) not waste our time caring about? Are there Care priorities for Design? If so, what are they and why? What kind of trade would a “Care Trade” look like? If Designer and User continue to have some form of relationship what future might Design and user Care for? Is it possible for Design to operate in a context where we choose not to Care? How might Design avoid the overdevelopment of Care? Is it possible that Design & Care might sometimes produce a negative result (which means being uncaring or careless)? Can Design Care for people’s frustrations and doubts? Is the invasion of Care by Design just another colonising fantasy? Can Design empathize? If so, where does all this empathizing get us? Despite the optimistic predictions for the Design of Care what does the doing of Care really do? To look at the future of Care which is best - Design fiction or Science fiction? What role does Design play in the gesture of Care? Will Designing Care eventually medicalise Design? If one were to explore the relationship between social value and the value of Care what might you get? Is Design as a practice completely outside the language of Care? Can Design’s idealistic claims of true inclusion ever be achieved? Can Design contribute to the gap between the ideal of Care and real Care?
Article
Weaving together observations and insights from ethnographic research gathered over two years, this article considers how design and everyday life intertwine to create convivial places, but also pauses to take in the moments when tensions rise and conviviality fails. To illustrate, the article takes as an example the redevelopment of a small urban square in London, designed by landscape architects Gustafson Porter and completed in 2011. Gustafson Porter’s practice is deeply informed by inclusive design, and they strive to design barrier-free environments that ‘promote choice, flexibility of use and enable everyone to participate equally’. Taking in both the material design of the square and the social encounters that happen there, the article considers how inclusion and exclusion operate in a public space like General Gordon Square, and reflects on the challenges of making and maintaining conviviality. It suggests that inclusive design might be imagined as a vision of convivial culture in which we live together with difference.
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