Imagine you had to design collaboratively a city neighborhood around the value of romance. The first step would be to ask yourselves: what does “romance” mean to us? Romance evokes different things for different people based on their cultural background, age or experiences. So, this would require taking multiple perspectives into account. Then, you would have to reflect on how to embed romance in urban life. What kind of places would you design? How would a city based on romance look like? And now, given the pervasive introduction of technologies: imagine there are surveillance cameras in every corner. How would they change city life? What’s more: how would the meaning of romance evolve? Would romantic interactions change? How would they become different?
We posed these and other questions to students participating in the Curious U summer school at the University of Twente. During the Curious U summer school, we had the opportunity to facilitate sessions for the “Smart Cities” and “Designing the Future” courses. One of our workshops consisted of designing the prototype of a neighborhood based on a specific value (i.e. romance, autonomy, serendipity, freedom) and reflect on the value changes that originate from the implementation of technology in smart cities.
The students’ creativity and commitment was a source of inspiration for our research. The workshops provided interesting insights into the tools and methods we can apply to facilitate the anticipation of value changes in smart cities. Prototyping proved to be a valuable means to debate around the meaning of values and their meaning in the city, making certain issues tangible. The results we obtained from this workshop will inform our upcoming research activities. We are currently analyzing the data and expect to have a report very soon. We will keep you posted!