Spatial design is often confronted with an immense diversity of transformation processes. As a designer it is often difficult to fully acknowledge this immanent complexity and find a position to intervene. How can we answer questions as ‘With whom do I collaborate? How does personal transformation play a role in organizing my collaborations? And can collective action innovate and restructure the way we think about our built environment?‘
With the Chair of Architecture and Urban Transformation of Prof. Freek Persyn we are experimenting with answering these questions through studio teaching, research and action.
In order to better understand different methodological approaches, the Chair organizes in collaboration with the Transdisciplinary Lab of ETH Zürich the workshop series «From collective learning to collective action». The aim of the workshop series is to explore different operational frameworks for collective learning and try to apply them to the case of Trakiya Economic Zone in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
A Workshop Series for the Trakiya Economic Zone in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
The workshop series – supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) – is structured around two phases. In the first phase (April – June) we organize different zoom sessions and video presentations with the main authors of each of the frameworks to collectively explore how research in social psychology (activity theory, expansive learning), planning (collective learning, learning platforms and joint problem framing), organizational studies (dialectic thinking & self organization) and design thinking (systemic design and soft system methodology) complement each other and create insights in how to include collective learning and action in design processes. Experts from NUS – National University of Singapore and the Future Cities Lab (FCL) are invited to reflect on the supportive role of digitalization as one of the most important current and future leverages of learning processes.
In a second phase (autumn semester 2020) we will organize an in-person workshop at the ETH Zürich, where the operational frameworks will be applied to the case of Trakiya Economic Zone (TEZ) in Plovdiv. This workshop will be open to a larger audience (please contact the authors of the article if you’re interested in participating).
The industrial development TEZ in Plovdiv, Bulgaria is an industrial development with more than 130 global manufacturing facilities, which is currently undergoing different kinds of transformation processes – spatial, social and economic. Since the zone as a whole is a condition, where radically different realities and actors interact on a daily basis, it challenges us to develop a new spatial design approach which allows to understand the underlying contradictory processes. Such a design approach should allow a setting, where those contradictions are identified and explored as a source for meaningful transformations.
Ina Valkanova is a doctoral candidate at the Institute for Landscape and Urban Studies of ETH Zurich. Her research is focused on the relationship between production and place on the case of the special economic zone TEZ in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Seppe De Blust is a postdoctoral researcher at the Chair of Architecture & Urban Transformation of Prof. Freek Persyn and co-founder of endeavour, office for socio-spatial innovation. His research is focused on the relation between collective learning and design.