Sunday, June 27, 2010

politics of design

Last week there was a two day conference in Manchester about the politics of design. I found the call for papers for this event interesting to think about in relation to the design of pneumatic tube systems in hospitals.

The workshop was organised by the Manchester Architecture Research Centre and was directed towards scholars from the fields of STS, architecture, geography, political economy, environmental psychology and planning, design studies, sociology, cultural studies and political sciences. The brief states that the conference aimed to explore a range of questions pertaining to theory and methodology such as:
"To what kind of politics can we get access when we strive to unravel design not through ideology but through the work of designers, their rich repertoire of actions, their controversies, concerns, puzzles, risk-taking, and imagination? And likewise, what kinds of politics are embedded in the objects of design, with their multiple meanings of materiality, pliability, and obduracy?

How does design’s potential to bring an ever-greater number of non-humans into politics contribute to the re-composition of the common world, the cosmos in which everyone lives? What are the politics of the relations invoked by design practices? Is design “political” because it brings together land and NGOs, gravity laws and fashions, preservationists and zoning regulations, architectural languages and concerned communities, dives and stakeholders, land registers and modernists, and if so, how?

What are the multiple design sites where political action might be seeping through? How is politics carried out today in sites often unrelated to the traditional loci of political action: in building development companies, planning commissions, building renovation sites, urban spaces, local communities, architectural offices, public presentations of designers? And what can we learn from the different, even unexpected forms of concernedness that we may come across in such contexts?

How and under which conditions does design become one of the means through which politics is being carried out? How does design turn the “public” into a problem – and thus engage and mobilise it – triggering disagreements and generating issues of public concern? How do designers and planners make their activities accountable to citizens?

If the “political” is considered a moment in the complex trajectory of design projects, processes and objects, what are the methods we use to account for them? How can we map, track, trace and document ethnographically and historically these moments of becoming political?"
I love the questions raised in conference calls for papers - so many possibilities and points of inspiration. There is a lot to consider here in regards to the politics of pneumatic networks.

Plans for pneumatic elevator via Daytona Elevators.

1 comment:

  1. Are you going to do a follow up article? Would love to know what happens next.

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