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Responsive Environments: Designed Objects As Enablers Of New Cycles For A More Sustainable Urban Environment

  • Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation

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The paper examines the concept of urban environment in a framework where the technological and environmental transformations are evolving the design conversation from a Human-Centered design to a Posthuman perspective. Designers are asked to explore and re-imagine the ecological networks within which the designed objects are used, circulate and are disposed, considering the whole system and the impact they have on it. In this modality of the ‘object-with-its-environment’, Object Oriented Ontology and Actor Network Theory are used as a base to expand the understanding of multiple agencies, dependencies, entanglements, and relations that make up our urban systems. On the one hand, Object, includes non-human agents, such as climate and other biological entities, on the other hand, Object, as active participant in the modeling of the dynamics of its environment. The conventional notions of ‘product’, ‘audience’ and ‘clients’ are challenged and questioned. The paper explores ways to enhance, through Design, the relationships between the Objects constituting urban systems: on the one hand the incorporation into the process of a multi-layered set of projections, and on the other hand the definition of products as enablers of new interactions between the objects of the system. It is about the ability to landscaping the urban environment and promoting spontaneous behaviors within the communities, to increase its economic and environmental sustainability, as well as the quality of life, beyond a reductionist individual utilitarian design strategy. The paper discusses a series of design proposals developed in the course “Responsive environments: Reshaping the Urban” as part of the Product Design concentration program at the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation. There is a focus on the adopted methodology and a reflection on what could be the role of product designers in the shaping of the contemporary urban spaces, from domestic objects, building systems and urban devices.
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