Josefin Wangel, Eléonore Fauré: Beyond Efficiency

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Beyond Efficiency


Impressum / Colophon Beyond Efficiency: A speculative design research anthology in which we seek to deconstruct ecomodern imaginaries of urban sustainability through exploring what more just and sustainable living environments could be like Edited by Josefin Wangel and Eléonore Fauré © Copyright 2021 by Editors, Authors & AADR (Spurbuchverlag) ISBN 978-3-88778-611-3

The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available in the Internet at http://www.dnb.de Publication © by AADR (Spurbuchverlag) 1. print run 2021 Am Eichenhügel 4, 96148 Baunach, Germany All rights reserved. No part of the work must in any mode (print, photocopy, microfilm, CD or any other process) be reproduced nor – by application of electronic systems – processed, manifolded nor broadcast without approval of the copyright holder. AADR – Art, Architecture and Design Research publishes research with an emphasis on the relationship between critical theory and creative practice. AADR Curatorial Editor: Dr. Rochus Urban Hinkel, Melbourne Production: pth-mediaberatung GmbH, Würzburg Layout and Graphic Design: Andrejs Ljunggren, Stockholm Printed in the European Union For further information on AADR and Spurbuchverlag visit www.aadr.info / www.spurbuch.de.


Beyond Efficiency

A speculative design research anthology in which we seek to deconstruct ecomodern imaginaries of urban sustainability through exploring what more just and sustainable living environments could be like



Prologue 0.1

About this book

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Why Beyond Efficiency?

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The built environment shapes possibilities for sustainable everyday life

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The future is always in the making and the scope for action is greater than we think 33

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Design-driven explorations are relevant in tackling societal challenges

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Speculative design explores alternative pasts, presents and futures

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Framing

Experimenting 2.1

Expeditions

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Beyond Efficiency – our design programme

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Design experiments I: Sensing Energy

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Design experiments II: Beyond Efficiency

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Exhibitions: Fragments from a Future & Human Nature

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Reflecting 3.1

Exploring elasticity in the home

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Fictions

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Revisiting the design experiments in relation to the design programme

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Troubling speculation

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Epilogue

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Afterword

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Glossary

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Bibliography

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Thanks to/Contributors

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Authors

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‘No one confessed the Machine was out of hand. Year by year it was served with increased efficiency and decreased intelligence. The better a man knew his own duties upon it, the less he understood the duties of his neighbour, and in all the world there was not one who understood the monster as a whole. Those master brains had perished. They had left full directions, it is true, and their successors had each of them mastered a portion of those directions. But Humanity, in its desire for comfort, had over-reached itself. It had exploited the riches of nature too far. Quietly and complacently, it was sinking into decadence, and progress had come to mean the progress of the Machine.’ E.M. Forster 1909 The Machine stops.


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About this book

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Why Beyond Efficiency?

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About this book

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This book is about the design of urban living environments and how design can provide more sustainable ways of living. The book comes out of two larger research projects – Sensing Energy and Beyond Efficiency – both of which made use of speculative design as a way of exploring possible alternatives to contemporary ways of conceptualising urban sustainability.

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Three frustrations We started writing this book with three key frustrations in mind. They are related to the way urban sustainability is practiced, the way ideas of the future are constructed, and the state of designdriven research. We call them frustrations to point out that they are phenomena we have been struggling with for quite some time, and because they are personally relevant to us. Urban sustainability

The first frustration concerns the way urban sustainability is understood and practiced. The interest in urban sustainability can be traced back to the 1990s and the Agenda 21 slogan Think global, act local. Urbanisation, together with the fact that urban areas stand for a disproportionately large amount of resource use and pollution, led the way for such local action to focus increasingly on urban action. Today, sustainable urban development has developed into a billion-euro industry, and local action seems to have shifted focus from contributing to global sustainability to global competition. Cities, companies and nations seek to strengthen their positions in regional and global markets, where state and industrial interests are said to align in the promotion of economic growth and a move towards an entrepreneurial form of urban governance. This has led to an increased focus on entrepreneurial urbanism in which sustainable urban development is primarily carried out through lighthouse projects – green enclaves in which ‘green’ and ‘smart’ technologies can be tested and marketed. This book seeks explicitly to engage with some of the major drawbacks of such ecomodern urban development practices and show how urban living environments could be organised differently. Framing the future

The second frustration stems from the way the future is framed and used. There are essentially three different ways of relating to the future. We can try to predict it, which in practice means trying to determine which future is the most likely while hoping that nothing unexpected occurs; we can see the future as fundamentally open and uncertain, and try to identify the most important uncertainties, the impacts they might have, and how to manage them, or we can regard the future


About this book

as fundamentally open, but rather than focusing on uncertainties and risks, use this to examine how a desirable future might look like, and how to get there. Urban planning and design practice tend to be dominated by predictive approaches, implying that the future is presented as singular and fixed. This causes a number of problems, not least in the light of the sustainability transformations needed. Design-driven research

The third frustration has to do with the state of design-driven research. Research through design (or research by design) is a way of developing new knowledge in which prototyping plays a fundamental role. Prototype, literally primitive form, is a representation that comes before the ‘real thing’. It could be a sketch, drawing or model. In contrast to traditional sciences that focus on the ‘natural’ or ‘social’, design research is a science of the artificial – the human-made. Our frustration primarily revolves around the lack of recognition of this as a valid way of conducting research. While this might in some respects be because the field of design research is still rather young, another explanation can be found in ideas about what ‘good’ science is. ‘Good’ research is objective, generalisable and possible to validate through repeatable experiments with consistent results. Being interpretive and situated, design-driven research is very much the opposite.

Is this book for you?

The discussion about who this book is for began back when we were making a communication plan for the project. We freely admit that having a communication plan was not our idea, but was demanded by the project funder. We also freely admit that we found this demand a bit challenging. While we all love to talk about our research to anyone who is interested (or just happens to sit next to us at a dinner party), and although we have all made our fair share of presentations, pitches and panel discussions, we are not communication experts. We are researchers. And anyone who ever sat next to a researcher at a dinner party knows that just because someone is great at research, it does not mean that self-same person is great at communicating their research in an understandable, engaging way; far from it. This is not surprising given that the years of training and experience needed to become a great researcher involve learning to use and internalise not only a specific vocabulary, but also a specific way of speaking. Anyway, being well–behaved researchers (and wanting to maintain a good relationship with our funder) we sat down to develop the

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plan. Thanks to our colleague Karin Habermann, we had a template to work with, which included a section on target groups. And this is when, to our surprise and frustration, it turned out that we had quite different understandings of who we wanted the project, and this book, to be for. Some of us thought it should be for people working in architecture, urban planning and design practice. Others thought that it should be aimed at students and researchers in the field of sustainable urban development. Yet others proposed policy-makers, or indeed the public as our main audience. What links all these suggested target groups is that they all, in one way or another, are essential if the book is to have its intended impact on the way urban living environments are designed. Eventually, our (rather heated) discussions resulted in our focusing on two target groups; people working in urban planning, design and architecture practice, and researchers and students of urban sustainability, designdriven research and futures studies. This book is for you. If you identify as something else, don’t worry! The book is for you, too. Actually, it is for everyone interested in or curious about how design-driven research works in practice, what is wrong with contemporary ideas of urban sustainability, or why speculation is a thing in research. Or people who fancy nice images and new ideas, or who are just into books. But, should you by some chance identify as one of our target groups, please let us know so we can tell our funder.

How to read the book

Writing a book with such an admittedly diverse audience in mind had a number of concrete effects. First, it helped us identify the need for two different types of chapters – those where the story is told primarily through text, and where illustrations are used for clarification, and those where the main communication takes place through images, and where text is a complement. We also decided to approach the book as a collection of short stories. The main reason being that we wanted to create space for a variety of voices, perspectives, and ways of telling stories. The happy result of this means that a number of the chapters can be read independently, and that you can read them in any order. What’s more, we decided to split the book into three main parts; Framing, Experimenting, and Reflecting. In Framing we present four key points of departure for the research presented in the book. In Experimenting we describe what we did and how we did it. And in Reflecting we take a step back, or forward, trying to see what we learned. While the order of these parts and the chapters in them might come


About this book

across as the self-evident way of organising the material, we would like to emphasise that this order does not represent the chronology of the events and projects reported on. Quite a lot of work happened in parallel, and in some cases, what are now points of departure could be made sense of first after some experimentation had taken place. Thus, as in any story, the book represents one of many possible configurations. You can also think of the book as one of those unboxing videos that have become so popular in contemporary consumer culture, except that what gets unboxed here is not headphones or a pair of shoes but something even more exciting – research!

Who are the book’s creators?

We all know the saying that it takes a village to raise a child, well the same can be said about creating a book. Or doing research, for that matter. The choice of the verb create is deliberate; a book is so much more than the written word. The book came out of the concerted efforts of a research team, joined together by interests, frustrations, and quite a bit of chance. The composition of the team shifted throughout the project. Some people left, others joined. And quite a few of us had to leave the project for a while to raise children, to recover from exhaustion or illness, or just to prioritise other things before returning. None of this would have been possible without our extended village of colleagues and collaborators, families and friends, books and beasts. Thank you.

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Why Beyond Efficiency? Josefin Wangel & Eléonore Fauré

Efficiency is not enough

‘Beyond Efficiency’ is the title of this book as well as the title of one of the projects from which this book draws its content. When we came up with this title it was very much based on how we perceived contemporary ideas and practices of sustainable urban development. Wherever we looked, efficiency was there – from resource-efficient domestic technologies (radiators, faucets and toilets), to energy-efficient buildings, to entire urban districts being characterised as efficient in terms of land use and allowing for efficiency of scale. Construction processes were made more efficient through logistic centers and coordination, waste management was made more efficient through vacuum systems, and even the planning process itself was to be made more efficient. Don’t get us wrong. We are not against efficiency per se. What we are critical to, and what we want to move beyond, is the way efficiency is conceptualised and practiced in contemporary sustainable urban development. Our critique is twofold. First, we see a need to dethrone efficiency to the benefit of recognising that efficiency is but one of the tools needed to transform this society into a just and sustainable one. Second, we need to take a long and hard look at how efficiency is constructed and what consequences this has for the potential of a sustainable societal transformation. In its most basic sense, efficiency is what happens when you change the relation between what is put into a system and what comes out in a way that allows you to ‘make more with less’. This means that efficiency is a characteristic (and process) that is fundamentally relative, something that in turn implies that efficiency cannot, in itself, define what a sustainable level of input or output is; a system can make use of enormous amounts of resources or support consumption well beyond the carrying capacity of our planet and still be efficient. Efficiency is never an end in itself but a means to achieve something else, such as sustainability. One foundational part of sustainability is recognising ecological limits, such as limits to growth, carrying capacity, planetary boundaries, how many degrees of global warming we believe is acceptable (e.g. 1.5 degrees Celsius), or how large our remaining carbon budget is before we hit the roof of emissions compatible with reaching the 1.5 degree target. Sustainability also calls for the need of defining equity – including social and environmental justice and well-being. Efficiency is often

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considered to be ‘value neutral’ which means that it does not concern itself with how the goods and bads of efficiency are distributed across geographies, genders, classes, generations, or species (van Staveren 2007). This means that a system can be efficient, and ‘dramatically unequal’ at the same time (ibid.:1).

Two types of efficiency

Besides the need to complement efficiency with an understanding of limits and equity, there is also a need to recognise that efficiency comes in a number of different configurations. One type of efficiency is based on reducing the input while maintaining, or increasing, the output. Using indoor heating as an example, efficiency can be achieved through better insulation and radiators with less energy loss, allowing you to maintain (or increase) your indoor temperature while using less energy. This is perhaps how most people understand efficiency and is probably the reason for why efficiency has become closely associated with sustainability. In societies driven by and for economic growth, efficiency is however expected to be used to maximise outputs (van Staveren 2007). Efficiency also includes situations where input is maintained or increased; either through maintaining the input while increasing the output, or through finding ways that allows the input to increase but where the output increases more. This type of efficiency does not contribute to decreased resource use, but is in spite of this still often associated with sustainability. Translated to our indoor heating example, this type of efficiency occurs when efficiency measures allow you to increase your indoor temperature with maintained energy use, or to increase the temperature and the energy use but with less of an increase in energy use than would have been the case without efficiency measures.

Ecomodernism

Efficiency is a tenet to ecomodernism, the sustainability discourse currently dominating how sustainable development is put to practice in Sweden as well as on a global scale. Drawing on Dryzek and Stevenson (2011), ecomodernism is characterised by the understanding that sustainable development could and should be achieved within ‘the existing liberal capitalist international economic system’ (ibid.:1868) – although with state regulations and incentives as tools to help the market develop in the ‘right’ way, and without changing the distribution of power between societal groups. In suggesting that the desirable (sustainable) society is merely an extrapolation of the present to the future, ecomodernism is essentially


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a ‘conservative utopia’ (Segal 1986:122). The only thing that is supposed to change is the pace of technological development, through which society is to be made more efficient and, presumably, more sustainable. The faith in technology as a panacea1 is a defining feature of ecomodernism, and can be traced back to the technological utopianism that flourished around the turn of the last century: ‘The dirt, noise, and chaos that invariably accompanied industrialisation in the real world were to give way in the future to perfect cleanliness, efficiency, quiet, and harmony. Technology, like fire, would be domesticated. [...] With the taming of technology was to come the taming of nature. Wind, water, and other natural resources were to be subdued and harassed – above all in the form of clean, quiet, powerful electricity. The mastery of nature was regarded as the fulfilment of man’s destiny and his elevation to a status only slightly less than that of omnipotence.’

Segal 1986:123

Another central characteristic of ecomodernism is the belief that economic growth can be decoupled from resource use and related impacts. In contrast to other, more radical, sustainability discourses, ecomodernism sees economic growth not as a problem but as a prerequisite for sustainable development. Decoupling belongs to the family of efficiency-based measures, and as with other types of efficiency also decoupling comes in different variants. There is relative decoupling, in which economic growth increases more than resource use and associated impacts, and there is absolute decoupling, in which economic growth increases while resource use and associated impacts stabilises or decreases in absolute terms. In light of the present situation where several planetary boundaries are systematically overrun, relative decoupling is fundamentally insufficient. Indeed, also absolute decoupling might be insufficient if not respecting ecological constraints (Fedrigo-Fazio et al. 2016). While there are examples of relative decoupling, there is no empirical evidence for absolute decoupling happening (Parrique et al. 2019), nor that it reduces resource use and impacts to the extent needed. Finally, ecomodernism portrays sustainable development as a conflict-free space of win-win-situations and other synergies. Through portraying sustainable development as an extrapolation of the present, and a matter of technological development, sustainability – and the process of getting there – becomes depoliticised and turned into a management challenge. Conflicts between ecological and social sustainability issues and distributional aspects related to these are neatly hidden away to the benefit of a ‘techno-managerial eco-consensus’ (Swyngedouw 2011:264). Essentially, the techno-utopianism, the belief in decoupling, and the portrayal of sustainable development as a conflict-free space

1 Literally meaning ‘all-healing’.


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2 Negative Emissions Technologies are technologies for carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere.

3 IPCC stands for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, which regularly publishes assessment reports aimed at decision-makers summarising the latest knowledge on climate change from the scientific community.

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characteristic of ecomodernism all come down to one thing: to avoid having to deal with the fact that continued economic growth is incompatible with socio-ecological sustainability. To exemplify, from an ecomodern framing, the lack of absolute decoupling is not any major cause of concern. There are always new technologies around the corner, such as Negative Emissions Technologies2 (NE T S) that can help perpetuate the ecomodern utopia and silence criticism from more radical sustainability discourses. Many of the NETS technologies only exist as small-scaled experiments, with large uncertainties as to their feasibility and potential for scaling up (Grubler et al. 2018), but are still assumed to be in place in future modelling exercises such as in the IPCC3 scenarios. Anderson & Peters (2016) warn that the ‘unjust and high-stakes gamble’ of relying on NETS might lead to decreased efforts to reduce emissions and resource use, and to our generation handing over the responsibility to the next one – pretty much as with the issue of nuclear waste, or other sustainability issues for that matter.


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Debunking urban sustainability

The ways in which we organise cities, and the ways they are developed and managed, have direct implications for the intensity and scope of resource use. Cities are often said to provide a more efficient, and thus sustainable, way of organising society, not least in terms of land use and economies of scale. But this is a modified truth, to say the least. Even though cities per se take up not more than 2-5 per cent of the global land area (Seto et al. 2014), their ecological footprint is much larger. This footprint consists of the land and water needed to produce the resources used in cities, and to process the waste and pollution from them. The area from which a city draws its sustenance is sometimes referred to as its hinterland. Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is home to about 1.5 million people – roughly 15 per cent of the country’s population. While Stockholm’s built environment takes up about 0.1 per cent of Sweden’s land area, its ecological footprint is almost a thousand times larger. Were we to place this footprint within Sweden’s borders, it would cover as much as 93 per cent of Sweden’s land area. This is of course only a thought experiment – Stockholm’s hinterland is distributed throughout the world, both regarding the production of materials and goods, and in terms of taking care of waste and pollution. Cities have been estimated to account for more than 70 per cent of GHG emissions, with large, wealthy cities having the largest footprints (C40 Cities 2018; Moran et al. 2018; Seto et al. 2017). Cities also constitute a large part of global resource use; in 2010 about 60 per cent of global material consumption was estimated to take place in urban areas (IRP 2018). Moreover,

projected continued urbanisation implies that urban GHG emissions and resource use are expected to grow, unless substantial effort is directed at decarbonising the sectors involved in urban development (Seto et al. 2014; IRP 2018). Other sectors need to decarbonise, too. Cities are fundamentally dependent on cheap energy to keep urban life and economies running, a large share of which comes from fossil fuels. In this context, it is important to understand that the main reason why cities account for a disproportionately large share of GHG emissions and resource use is because their populations are on average wealthier. And the wealthier they are, the more they can afford to consume, and the larger their environmental footprint becomes (Nässén et al. 2014). Urban sustainability is more than GHG emissions and climate change; biodiversity, chemical pollution, and the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles are other key environmental issues. And in addition to environmental concerns, urban sustainability is also linked to several issues related to social sustainability and socio-ecological justice, both within the city and in its hinterland. Within the city, a socio-ecological justice perspective means asking who has access to affordable housing, green areas and clean air. And since contemporary urban development and urban life are fundamentally dependent on resource extraction and production practices that not only destroy the environment but also people’s livelihoods, health and wellbeing, we must also address the socioecological sustainability of a city by taking this into consideration.


Framing


Into My Wilderness

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The built environment shapes possibilities for sustainable everyday life

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The future is always in the making and the scope for action is greater than we think

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Design-driven explorations are relevant in tackling societal challenges

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Speculative design explores alternative pasts, presents and futures

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The built environment shapes possibilities for sustainable everyday life Pernilla Hagbert & Josefin Wangel

Shaping a sustainable society

What role does the built environment play in shaping opportunities for minimising environmental degradation, mitigating climate change and contributing to more just social development? The ambition of making human settlements and cities ‘inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’, to quote UN Sustainable Development Goal number 11, is a tall order, especially considering the current environmental, social and economic impact cities have. The ways in which we plan and manage cities have direct implications for the intensity and scope of societal resource use. This means we should understand cities as being social structures as much as physical ones; the development and use of cities are fundamentally shaped by social, cultural and institutional conditions. This includes ideas and understandings of what kind of urban form is seen as desirable, what mobility options are feasible, and what technologies are available. However, it is not only the social that shapes the material; once in place, the material also shapes the social. Cities, as the materialisation and juncture of different socio-technical and econo-political systems, pose forms of mediation for how we engage with each other, and also our relation to resources and nature. Our living environments shape how we think and act, and can provide both obstacles and possibilities for socio-ecological transformations. Here we explore, and challenge, the ways in which we approach the inherent sustainability of cities, how this plays out in the design of urban living environments and the assumptions made regarding the kind of everyday life this enables. In examining both historical and contemporary ideals for ‘good’ and/or ‘sustainable’ cities, we emphasise how planning and urban design can be understood in relation to shifting notions of nature and resources, the view on technology, the approach to agency and the everyday interactions among people, and the social and material conditions that this creates for socio-ecological transformations.

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Historical ideas of the (good) city

The development of the modern city needs to be understood in relation to the emergence of capitalist forms of production, industrialisation, property law and notions of citizenship that were developed over the last centuries, and the new modes of government in liberal democracies that followed. Also, from a socio-technical perspective in relation to energy and resource extraction, it is important to note how cities came to be developed and understood. The invention of coal-fired steam power allowed industrialised production to be located where there were ideal market opportunities and a concentration of labour, instead of being limited by a proximity to rivers or woodlands (Malm 2014). At the same time, the industrialisation of the agricultural sector (preceded by substantial land-grabbing) led to a migration to cities, where factories benefitted from the abundance of cheap labour. This in turn demanded new ways of organising urban settlements that differed radically from pre-industrial cities and agrarian communities. Industrial cities were separated into functions such as housing, industry and public space, and new infrastructures developed to transport resources, people and waste within, to and from cities. The emergence and expansion of the bourgeoisie, an urban middle class, also shaped the function of cities as nodes of consumption. The break with the traditional, pre-industrial organic rural way of life, described by German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies in 1887 as Gemeinschaft [community], was replaced in a rational interaction by public society, or Gesellschaft, based on economic exchange rather than trust-based relationships. In response to what were seen as the ills (or particular benefits) of industrialisation and the emergence of metropolitan cities, architects, engineers and urban planners have envisioned a myriad ways of organising everything from urban space to human interactions. As outlined in Gillette’s (2011:1) description of the trajectory of American urban reform, the ‘goal was not simply better people. Ultimately, they sought to shape civitas - the community of citizens - through design.’

The Garden City

Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City is one of the most well-known, but also widely realised, proposals for an idealised city. The garden city combined a critique of modern capitalist-industrial cities with romanticised agrarian, land-based ethics. Conceived in the UK in the late 19th century, the garden city model came to shape urban planning discourse and practice throughout the 20th century, with various international adaptations. The proposal stemmed from radical ideas of social reform, offering ‘nothing less than the elimination of capitalist exploitation [...] to solve the


The built environment shapes possibilities for sustainable everyday life

problem of urban industrialism by the formation of a new kind of community’ (Gillette, 2011:23). However, rather than revolution, the garden city suggested a ‘synthesis of capitalism and socialism – each of which pitted labor against capital – into a social individualism whose hallmark would be a new socioeconomic form – cooperation.’ (Richert & Lapping 1998:126). By cherry-picking what were seen as the best traits of urban and rural life, the garden city was a hybrid proposal also in the way it attempted to combine elements of both ‘town’ and ‘country’. While the garden city concept sought a different approach to urbanity, it nonetheless reproduced a number of the modern ideas regarding the relationships between nature and culture, rural and urban. The plan proposed a decentralised development of compact urban clusters of approximately 30-32,000 inhabitants each, surrounded by an agricultural greenbelt. The design further saw a distinction between productive agricultural land, parks, allotments, public space and work, and residential developments, which were characterised by low-density development on small plots. It is also interesting to note the description of the garden city plan as a group of ‘slumless, smokeless cities’ – indicating the urban sustainability issues that were considered important at the time. The cooperative and more radical socio-economic elements of Howard’s original idea were nonetheless lost in many of the implementations built across the world. Instead of eradicating poverty, the developments often came to support middle-class land ownership through the individualised distribution and use of small parcels of land. While the design of the living environment intended to promote local activities, it was nevertheless dependent on aligning the organisation of everyday practices and family life, as well as labour markets, with these ideals. In the Swedish implementation and interpretation, the planning ideals from the garden city coincided with early social democratic ambitions for good housing for all. In an alliance of workers and a more conservative, nonconformist religious movement, the Swedish Egnahemsrörelsen [the private home movement] promoted the co-financing and construction of small homes on small plots to enable self-sufficiency and a ‘healthier way of living’ among the working class. Individual ownership was also seen as a morally important part of fending off a radical working-class movement and the revolutionary stirrings seen in other countries across Europe in the early 20th century. One criticism of the garden city model, raised by urban thinkers like Jane Jacobs (1961), was that it was ‘anti-urban’. They blamed Howard’s ideas for the suburbanisation that took place in many American cities during the mid-20th century. In Sweden, the garden city model turned into a market-driven development of single-family detached-house

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areas, abandoning the idea of building small homes for the working class. However, the interpretation of the garden city as suburban has also been disputed. For example, Lewis Mumford (1961) claimed that ‘It was in its urbanity, not its horticulture, that the Garden City made a bold departure from the established method of building and planning.’ Again, it is important to note the design intentions and the physical and social structures conceived as necessary to uphold a certain ideal in everyday life. Yet we can also problematise the ways in which the planning ideals resulted in very different expressions of living environments that today are seen as promoting individual home ownership and car-dependency, rather than cooperation and self-sufficiency.

20th century modernism

While the garden city underlined the detrimental effects of industrialisation, modernist architecture and planning utilised industrial production as its core for shaping new ways of building and being. These new technical opportunities, combined with an anthropocentric notion of humans as the crown of creation, gave planners the upper hand over nature, which could be carved and tamed to the benefit of the built environment. The modernist architect Le Corbusier’s notion of ‘a house as a machine’ also illustrates the functionalist understanding of everyday life, where technology was seen as a mediator and enabler. In this machine metaphor, residents or citizens were seen as mere cogs in the wheel. In Sweden, these ideas of rationality were adopted by the social policies of the 20th century, with a technical and utilitarian understanding of a modern welfare society. Functional separation was essential in the planning of new urban districts, suburbs and towns, creating a multi-nuclei urban fabric with strong assumptions of what everyday life would look like – sometimes referred to as a facet of ‘social engineering’. In the urban expansion of the mid-20th century, what is known as an ABC planning approach was taken, where A stands for Arbete [work], B for Bostad [housing] and C for Centrum [town centre], mimicking the alignment of labour, private and public life in the Swedish welfare state. This also offered a certain logic in the flow of people over the course of a day, including who would go where, as prevailing gender roles and other social norms concerning child-rearing and family life were very much part of the design of everything from kitchens to playgrounds, parks and squares. Characteristic of these modernist areas was a strong emphasis on traffic separation, plenty of green space between the buildings and open or semi-open courtyards. Space, light and air were guiding principles in residential architecture, which offered functional, well-planned apartments with modern sanitary facilities. The improvement in housing


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standards was carried out under different national public programmes, culminating in the Swedish Million Homes Programme between 1965 and 1975. While a significant part of the areas built under this programme also consisted of low-scale detached or terraced housing, it is the largescale multi-family housing areas that are most often associated with the million homes period.

Figure 1 A modernist high-rise area that has been densified and diversified with another building typology. Image credits: Pernilla Hagbert, 2008.

Today, many of these high-rise modernist areas are portrayed as inefficient, with energy-inefficient buildings and what are perceived to be unproductive or unsafe green areas in need of densification and diversification to break the functional separation. Nevertheless, over the decades, these satellite suburbs have come to offer the only affordable housing available in an increasingly neo-liberalised housing market, with a concentration of socio-economically weaker households. Meanwhile, the possibilities provided by the living environments, modular construction and well-planned apartments together with ample green space, also offer alternatives for reappropriating space and reshaping the structures to house new socio-ecological functions. While the official discourse is often focused on renovation rather than social reform, counter-narratives are claiming the power to reform through cultural and social practices taking place despite the structures in place.

An ecomodern notion of a good, sustainable city

Since the late 20th century, urban planning and design are increasingly characterised by ideas of sustainability. The concept of sustainable development, and the notion of integrating economic, social and environmen-


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tal interests, have been institutionalised in more and more aspects of urban development. A depoliticised framing of sustainability has come to centre on the idea of ecological modernisation, which posits at its core the compatibility of (and reliance on) economic growth and ecological sustainability, supported through technological advancement and the application of market mechanisms to steer development and resource use in a more efficient (assumed to be equivalent to a sustainable) direction. As part of this ecomodern understanding, cities are today often framed as playing a key part in sustainability, particularly in assumptions of resource efficiency, social interaction, creativity and innovation (Glaeser 2011). Nowhere is this clearer than in the UN’s New Urban Agenda, where urban growth and in particular dense urban development are seen as both inevitable and (thus formulated as) essential. As part of an increasingly globalised understanding, a Scandinavian brand of urban sustainability projects has developed that upholds rather than challenges current systems of production and consumption (Hult 2017). These projects tend to revolve around aspects of urban form and the acceleration of new green technologies. Furthermore, with respect to urban sustainability, it is relevant to note the shift towards public-private partnership types of governance (Scheller & Thörn 2018), which assumes that environmental and social issues will be managed by the market or through the benevolence of civil society operators, rather than by a strong state. Moreover, these developments assume that individuals, as rational consumers, are responsible for changing their behaviour. An urban sustainability brand

The Royal Seaport in Stockholm is an example of a district marketed under the premise of sustainable urban development. It is the largest urban development area in Sweden, with plans for at least 12,000 new homes and 35,000 workplaces by 2030. It constitutes one of the largest sustainability-branded urban development projects in Europe. The area is marketed as an attractive, dense new urban district through strategies related to e.g. resource efficiency and letting ‘nature do the work’. For example, keywords used in the Sustainable Urban Development Programme (City of Stockholm n.d.) focus on the ‘dense and multifunctional’ urban character, an ‘inclusive’ urban lifestyle, the ‘prudent use of resources, and reduced climate impact’. The project has a clear focus on integrating efficient technology and promoting a sustainable lifestyle where it is easy to do the ‘right thing’, understood as waste sorting, recycling, or minimising resource use simply through the smart building systems that monitor and regulate resource flows. To enable sustainable choices, the principles of urban planning outlined include visualising technical systems and designing intuitive


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technical solutions. The residents are seen as users to be engaged and ‘given the opportunity to influence and plan themselves’, primarily conceived as the provision of places for meetings and residents’ initiatives such as gardening. A criticism raised against the Royal Seaport project, as well as similar urban developments around Sweden (and abroad), is the segmentation towards an urban middle class, where the programming and the approach to sustainability as a matter of consumer choice reproduces certain norms and notions about who will live there and how they will act.

Figure 2 The Royal Seaport in Stockholm, where technical solutions such as a vacuum waste system were conceived to facilitate sustainable living. Image credits: Holger Ellgaard, 2015 (CC-BY SA).

Community – for whom?

Another example of a contemporary understanding of urban sustainability is the Urban Village Project. Envisioned as an internationally applicable concept, the proposed development offers ‘A vision for liveable, sustainable and affordable homes’ (the Urban Village Project n.d.). Conceived by the IKEA-funded SPACE 10 ‘independent research and design lab’, together with a Danish planning and architecture office, the project showcases a model for urban living based on standardised modules that can be arranged in different ways to create a multi-functional, flexible urban structure. The emphasis is on creating a tight-knit, thriving community where the individual is encouraged to live more sustainably. Here too, the focus is on an individualised and heavily branded form of sustainability in everyday life, where ‘living a sustainable life shouldn’t feel like a burden, but like a natural part of life.’ Translated into concepts such as shared spaces for co-working and living, the notion is that residents will interact with environments, artefacts and other people in ways that are conducive to a resource-saving, socially cohesive way of living. The question is, who is this aimed at and what activities are


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imagined? The universal approach, where the project is showcased as being placed in either the favelas of the global South or in high-end metropolitan areas, speaks to a supposed variability, where the notion of affordability and community-oriented housing is seen as a fundamental concept. Yet the aesthetics reproduced lack these contexts and are instead reminiscent of Scandinavian design, which also assumes a certain way of life with open wooden structures, glazed units and minimalistic interiors.

Beyond sustainable cities?

Compared to the historical examples provided, a similarly clearly outspoken planning ideal is harder to find in contemporary urban development, although key strategies and concepts tend to revolve around aspects such as green technology, efficiency and often vague ideas of participation or user-friendly design. Paradoxically, one of the tasks recurring ever since the ills of industrialisation were first acknowledged, is the attempt to recreate the sense of community perceived as lost in modernity and an increasingly individualised society. The lack of critical discussion about the political and social implications – which we argue always colour urban planning and design practice – is even more problematic in contemporary urban development. The formulation of a consumer-oriented, sustainable urban development, dressed up in what has been called ‘eco-bling’ (Liddell 2013) or ‘green bling’ (as in clad with green tech or green in the sense of green roofs, facades and not least lurid green renderings), obscures the continuation of economic and social logics as given and neutral. These developments are also insufficient from a socio-ecological perspective on the necessary transformations to a sustainable society. By repoliticising and critically examining ‘urban sustainability’, we also need to acknowledge the ways in which we could move beyond the notion of sustainable cities. There is a need to challenge the hegemonic idea of how a sustainable city looks and functions, or even the idea that cities in themselves can be sustainable. If we acknowledge that the way cities are organised and designed has an impact on social relations and environmental conditions alike, we also need to contextualise understandings of what is sustainable in relation to the system boundaries and the assumed types of representations of everyday life. This also includes re-evaluating existing living environments created from other ideals, and the ways in which they can be reconfigured to serve more sustainable modes of production and consumption in the future. And lastly, in exploring new ways of living that could shape new methods of planning and building, we need to find perspectives that go beyond an ecomodern understanding, and see instead the potential in designing new ways of being and relating to nature and people.


The future is always in the making and the scope for action is greater than we think

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Josefin Wangel & Eléonore Fauré

In its most basic sense, the future is one of three timescapes, the past and present being the other two. They are also social constructs just like all categories, in this case emerging from and representing a linear understanding of time (Adam & Groves 2007). Acknowledging that this way of making sense of time is far from universal or free from problems, they are the categories we will use as thinking tools. In the following we describe a number of fundamental problems with the way the future (or futures) are addressed today. These problems all share one essential characteristic in that they contribute to curtailing the future and thus our perceived scope of action. Since this book is about finding ways out of this impasse, we also suggest a number of ways of opening up the future and doing so in a way that pluralises not only the future but also the people and perspectives allowed to take part in its creation.

Past, present and future as singular

The first problem is that the past, present and future are typically described and understood as being singular. While this might to some extent seem harmless and reflect nothing but a need to make sweeping statements, it risks having consequences for how we understand and engage with the world. Past, present and future are always sensed and made sense of from specific vantage points, and with specific agendas and aspirations in mind. Thus, these timescapes must be understood as socially constructed and fundamentally ambiguous, i.e. they are open to more than one interpretation. The risk of referring to the past, present, and future in the singular is that we will forget about this ambiguity, and start believing that dominant stories about pasts, presents and futures are not only dominant but also true, and in relation to the future, inevitable.

The problem with predictions

Relating to the future as singular is not only intimately associated with predictive types of futures studies, such as prognoses, forecasts and

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‘The risk of referring to the past, present, and future in the singular is that we start believing that dominant stories about pasts, presents and futures are not only dominant but also true and [...] inevitable.’

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trend analyses, but also divination and prophecy. All of these share a common interest in limiting uncertainties – about tomorrow’s weather, traffic volumes in 2030, whom to engage in a relationship with, or what country to go to war with – and doing so by suggesting that the future can be predicted. But there are several reasons why relating to the future through prediction is a bad idea, the first being that the future cannot be predicted. At least not if departing from a Western, secular line of thinking, according to which the future is open and possible to influence. This does not mean we cannot make predictions. There are countless ways to make more or less informed guesstimates about the future: studying the behaviour of animals, super advanced modelling, or just thinking really long and hard, are but a few examples. To predict, literally to foretell, is one thing. Prediction, as in being right in what we foretell, is another. Now, the future may be predictable with regard to some phenomena, at least with a very high chance of being right. Predicting the outcome of an experiment is the very basis of the natural sciences. However, in contrast to the well-confined parameters of science experiments, the world is a lot messier. Let’s say I (Josefin) am holding a croissant, which I intend to offer to my friend and co-author Eléonore. But just as I’m about to hand the croissant over, I drop it! What happens next? Well, thanks to people having historically paid a lot of attention to falling objects and making a science out of it, we know that the croissant will start falling towards the floor with a velocity that increases by 9.8 metres per second squared (minus air resistance, and given that Eléonore and I are on planet Earth, etc.). Based on lived experience, we also know that there will be lots of crumbs all over the floor, and that Eléonore will most likely be disappointed. But let’s say that because both Eléonore and I care too much about the croissant just to let it fall, we both dive down towards the floor to try and rescue the precious pastry. BANG! Our heads collide, and we both get mild concussions. Or maybe we’re outdoors and there’s a passing seagull which, in one elegant fell swoop, makes off with the tasty snack. Now, take this rather simple situation and scale it up spatially, temporally and in terms of complexity. Add more people, systems, stuff, planned actions, mishaps and serendipitous events. Then also add the fact that people often act on predictions that indicate a future they would like to avoid. Thus, apart from in scientific experiments and systems working primarily under natural laws, predictions should be avoided.


The future is always in the making and the scope for action is greater than we think

Another problem with predictive approaches is that they premise the future on the past and present, making more substantial change impossible to consider and delimiting the scope of action to a ‘predict-and-provide’ type of urban planning and design. The abolition of slavery, women’s liberation, the internet, and Covid-19 are all examples of processes that fundamentally affect the world as we know it, but which were not predictable. This is not because of inferior models or a lack of computing power, but because these processes and events lead to a future so qualitatively different from the past and present that it is characterised by discontinuity, essentially putting it beyond the scope of predictability. Using predictive approaches to deal with sustainability issues is thus problematic from three perspectives. Firstly, socio-ecological systems are characterised by high complexity and dynamics; they cannot be predicted. Secondly, and in addition to the first, humans can act on predictions or change the input parameters or contextual characteristics in other ways. Thirdly, in many cases sustainability demands a discontinuity of trends related to resource use or pollution. Thus, because the future cannot be premised on the past and present, predictions are not helpful. Beyond ecomodern ideas of incremental changes in emissions and material intensities, such a discontinuity implies nothing less than a fundamental societal transformation. Even after decades of global discussions about the need to work towards a sustainable future, whether we date it back to the 1972 Stockholm Conference or the 1987 report from the Brundtland Commission, current trends point to nothing but increased levels of environmental degradation and a rapidly closing window of opportunity to keep the planet habitable.

From future to futures

Thankfully, there are other ways of relating to the future. Drawing on Dreborg (2004), the field of futures studies suggests at least two more; relating to the future through eventualities, and relating to the future through visions, both of which are excellent tools for counteracting the tendency to address the future as singular and limit it to (a selection of) present and historical trends. Rather than aiming to predict one single future, eventualities and visions both seek to explore alternative futures, and reveal the possibilities and risks associated with them (Bell & Olick 1989). Such futures are often referred to as possible and preferable futures respectively (Amara 1981). Denoting a specific future as possible or preferable says nothing about the probability or feasibility of such a future to realise, but reflects the question about the future that was used as the point of departure; possible futures explore what could happen, while preferable futures explore what should happen. Indeed, one and the same

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Figure 3 The futures cone allows us to see that probable, possible and preferable futures do not have to be mutually exclusive. Illustration adapted from Candy 2010:35.

future can be probable, possible and preferable at the same time, or none of these, depending on the beholder (Figure 3). Relating to the future in terms of eventualities implies actively looking for uncertainties and possible discontinuities. These are then typically used as the basis for developing multiple scenarios, each describing a different possible future. Uncertainties are thus addressed by spanning them across different scenarios (Figure 4), providing a basis

Figure 4 Scenario matrices like the one shown here are a common approach for exploring uncertainties and what they might entail.


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‘Thinking in terms of visions provides the largest scope for action, at least in theory, as it provides for more fundamental rethinking of society.’

for developing more resilient plans and proposals. Compared to prognoses, this implies a larger scope of action. Relating to the future through visions means developing and exploring ideas of preferable – or desirable – futures. While academic futures studies literature has tended to foreground more recent, technocratic ways of developing visions, utopian ways of relating to the future predates modern science by several millennia (Sargent 2010). Thinking in terms of visions provides the largest scope for action, at least in theory, as it provides for more fundamental rethinking of society. In addition to increasing the scope for action, addressing the future in terms of visions also holds the greatest potential for a participatory discourse about the future, not only because visions work is less limited to models and, thus, less dependent on software and ‘expert’ knowledge, but also because it is so openly normative.

All futures are premised on the past and present

Eventualities and visions tend to be premised on the past and present. Past and present are deliberately used in the singular here to point out that this is how things tend to work in practice. Even when multiple futures are developed, it is typically done with one (interpretation of) past and present as the point of departure – effectively silencing other pasts, presents and futures (Borges 2016; Inayatullah 1990). While premising the future on a specific past is particularly the case for predictive approaches, it also holds true for more visionary futuring exercises. ‘[T]he imaginary future is rarely a radical departure from the past: in casting itself forward onto the unknown terrain of the future, societies tend to populate that future with representations and materialities of the present and/or past.’ Kuchler & Bridge 2018:138

One explanation for why this kind of path-dependency also appears when deliberately trying to break free from it has to do with the way our minds work. We are fundamentally dependent on experience to make sense of the world, including when making sense of the future (Koselleck 2004). Thus in one way, all futures are premised on the past and the present. But this does not mean our expectations are limited to what we have already experienced. If that were the case, innovations such as domesticated fire, social welfare and s’mores would not have been possible. Thankfully, we have imaginations that allow us to re-cast our experiences in new combinations, such as sandwiching a roasted marshmallow


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and a piece of chocolate between two halves of a graham cracker, i.e. a s’more. Central to this is the capacity to engage in thought experiments, such as conceptual blending (Aligica 2005) and asking, ‘what if...?’. Another part of the explanation is that the process of making sense of something takes place through social and situated interactions (Fuller & Loogma 2009) and is influenced by dominant discourses, framing what you see as being the right and feasible thing to expect (or desire), and what futures are unfeasible, undesirable or even impossible. There is even a term specifically coined to capture these socially constructed and shared understandings of what a feasible and desirable future looks like – socio-technical imaginaries: ‘collectively held, institutionally stabilized, and publicly performed visions of desirable futures, animated by shared understandings of forms of social life and social order attainable through, and supportive of, advances in science and technology.’ Jasanoff 2015:4

Such discursive superstructures do not appear out of nowhere but are very much a result of existing socio-material relations seeking to reproduce themselves. The reason why ‘it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than an end to capitalism’ ( Jameson 2003:76) is not a lack of imaginative capacities or too few ‘new stories’, but is a sign of how successful the current (capitalist) economic system has been in reproducing itself. Yet stories matter. Futures studies in all its incarnations, from feminist solarpunk to technocratic backcasting, have important roles to play in providing counter-narratives, showing that another (future) world is not only possible but could be more sustainable, just, enjoyable and prosperous. Even though these counter-narratives cannot change things by themselves, they can provide arguments for why certain futures should be strived for or avoided, and serve as an antidote to demoralisation, strengthening social and political movements alike. ‘We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.’ Ursula K Le Guin 2014

Depoliticised futures maintain status quo

The emphasis on desirability in visionary approaches to the future explicitly shows that there are values at play. What is desirable for one person, or group of people, might seem outright dystopian to another. However, not only visions but all ways of relating to the future are rooted in values,


The future is always in the making and the scope for action is greater than we think

including predictions and eventualities. Making predictions and developing scenarios about uncertain futures involves a great many assumptions, priorities and decisions in terms of what is important, for whom, and why. Quite often such underlying values are obscured by foregrounding questions that are, or appear, more managerial than political. Thus, instead of asking ‘What role do we want automation to play in society?’ we end up discussing ‘How should we manage the future of work and unemployment in an automated society?’ In this way, the future becomes an issue for the technocratic realm, and locked into continued business-as-usual thinking, rather than being situated within the realm of democratic discourse (Andersson & Westholm 2019). The insidious depoliticising process of e.g. climate change policy, labelled by geographer Erik Swyngedouw (2011) as ‘the post-political environmental consensus’ has hindered the articulation of alternative visions by reducing the debate to a mere discussion about the management, timing and implementation of technology. Futures studies exercises, especially those used in governmental and business settings, tend to focus more on developing particular methods used than on reflecting on the values, world views or contexts associated with the chosen methodology (Ahlqvist & Rhisiart 2015). This also contributes to curtailing the futures and in particular the ability of practitioners to shape futures as the latter are stuck in existing structures.

Towards critical futures-making

The essential problem with premising the future on the past and present is not the premising per se, but whose interpretations and aspects of the past and present are cast into the future without being questioned. The reproduction of dominant discourses and socio-material relations risks silencing or rendering already marginalised experiences and expectations invisible. In urban planning and design, there are several examples of visions that are (purposely?) developed not to open up the future, but to restrict it, and rather than empowering marginalised groups, contribute to their further marginalisation. This has troubling implications for all sorts of issues related to agency, empowerment and change, as it means that those already in power in the present, which is often a result of their being in power in the past, also hold power over the futures. Thus, to engage critically with futures-making, it is essential to ask for whom a certain future is desirable (Inayatullah 1990). The question ‘for whom?’ does not have to point at specific groups of people, but might well address cultures or ideologies (Masini 2006), or other-than-human beings and more-than-human collaborations (Tsing 2015) such as ecosystems. The tricky thing is how to achieve this in practice. Professional

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futures-making – be it in academia, the public sector, or in urban planning and design studios – is very much dominated by Westerners and Western perspectives. One way in which the issue of representation has been handled is through (a call for) participatory approaches. However, participation is a far from binary activity (yes, there was participation; no, there was not), but involves a number of choices each of which impacts on the extent to which marginalised people and perspectives are actually empowered: Who gets invited, and on what grounds and conditions? What experiences and expectations are foregrounded through the process design and environment chosen? Where in the overarching process of futures-making does participation take place, and what impact are the results allowed to have? There are also good reasons to critically consider the types of living environments, technologies, and everyday practices that are foregrounded in future-making activities, and to actively look for counter-narratives, i.e. alternatives to the predominant discourse. However, such counter-narratives do not have to be made from scratch but can be found through looking besides and beyond what the ecomodern discourse tells us is relevant. Eleonora Masini (2006:1163) talks about this as looking for ‘seeds of change’, and suggests that they can often be found among the people at the margins of the current system, such as the politically persecuted, artists, activists, women, children, students and intentional communities.

Speculative design

One common trait in visionary explorations of the future is their habit of seeking to present them as if they were real, through what are termed as images of the future. These impressions can take more or less any form and use more or less any media, but they have been dominated by literary forms (Bishop et al. 2007). However, the last decade has seen an increasing interest and engagement in other ways of exploring and representing futures, often with inspiration from different artistic practices and combining different sensory experiences (see e.g. Bendor et al. 2017). Short stories, cartoons, movies, guided walks, and art installations are but a few examples of communicative practices that are said to provide a more emotional and embodied engagement with the future(s). Another suggested benefit of these approaches is the potential to democratise futures-making by engaging a wider, more diverse audience than is currently targeted by the typical academic scenario report. While arts, crafts and design tend to be engaged primarily as communicative devices, they can also be explorative knowledge-making practices in their own right. This book focuses on one such practice: speculative design.


Design-driven explorations are relevant in tackling societal challenges

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Loove Broms & Jonas Runberger

Right now, you are surrounded by artificial material things1. We know this for certain as you would not be able to read these words were it not so. Most likely you are holding a book or looking at some kind of screen in front of you – both are examples of things. Sometimes it can even be a challenge to look around and find something that is not artificial. Our material life-world surrounds us; it has been given form through the design of artefacts, structures and plans. As Rancière puts it (2007:91), ‘when drawing lines, arranging words and distributing surfaces, design creates specific forms of inhabiting the world by creating divisions of communal space, that is, certain configurations of what can be seen and thought’. In this way, there is no objective, uncoded, ‘direct’ reality, but instead we reproduce it through the signs and representations experienced, stories told, and dreams dreamt. We do this both by making and interpreting our surroundings. The material in a way ‘talks back’ to us – through form language2 – and it directs us both through the physical and the cognitive (Norman 1999). Stories, beliefs and myths are embodied in the artificial and the material. For example, shades of pink, hourglass-shapes and simplicity are often used to denote femininity in design, signifying softness and care. In contrast, dark colours, hard edges and complex buttons are used to denote masculinity, signifying power and control (Ehrnberger 2012). Reality is a construct and we are constructing it as we go along in a constant pursuit of meaning. Physical representations of reality thus become reality in themselves, signs used to construct other signs. Things that reside outside these representations become invisible and out of reach; they are shapes and forms, language and symbols of worlds that could exist in an endless design space of possibilities. This chapter is about exploring these possibilities through design and architecture.

1 By artificial we mean everything made by humans.

2 As all communication, form language too needs to be encoded and decoded by sender and recipient. The recipient must know how to decode or read (consciously or unconsciously) what has been inscribed by the designer.

Design and architecture as a normative act

The word design originates from the Latin designatio, a description. The verb designare means to sketch and also – as popularised during the renaissance – to create a visual concept for something. To design was seen then as much more than giving visual style, decoration and ornamentation. It was more than an artistic practice; it was a tool used to give form

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to an abstract idea that could be made accessible and understandable on a cognitive level (Weimarck 2007). Or as Nelson & Stolterman (2003) put it: ‘Design is the ability to imagine that-which-does-not-yet-exist, to make it appear in concrete form as a new, purposeful addition to the real world. Design is the first tradition among the many traditions of inquiry and action developed over time, including art, religion, science and technology. We design our cosmologies, our homes, our businesses and our lives, as well as our material artefacts. As such, design touches nearly every aspect of our experienced world.’

3 See for example, proto-Germanic ‘thinga’ ‘assembly’, Old English þing – meeting, assembly, council, discussion or in Swedish ‘ting’ a gathering for legislation and justice. The shift from the older meaning ‘assembly’ to a being, entity or matter took place in the years between between 600 and 800 CE.

In this way, design is literally the remaking of human presence on Earth including how we provide ourselves with food, energy, material, shelter, livelihood, transport, water and waste cycling (Orr 2007). Viewing all artefacts as the results of design acts means conceiving them less as modernist objects, i.e. ‘created’ and fixed, and more as things, negotiated and fluid. The word object comes from the medieval Latin objectum ‘a thing put before’ (the mind or sight), and being objective is to consider and represent only facts, i.e. what is put before you. Since everything artificial is constantly being interpreted and reproduced as signs and representations, no objectivity exists in relation to the object and the object per se is no more objective than its interpretation. Material artefacts are complex assemblages of contradictory issues (socio-material culture) that are constantly being negotiated between different actors which is much more in line with the etymology of the word thing3. In architectural design, different modes of representation have been instrumental in both processes and outcomes since the dawn of the profession, in a way that predates modernism. Architectural practice has often been seen as projective, as a parallel to a critical practice often regarded as anchored in theory and writing, and the drawing operates both as a vehicle for exploring and proposing new spatial environments, and as an important part of architectural disciplinary discourse. In this sense, the drawing has achieved its own status, beyond the instruction on how to build architecture. In recent years, this status has been challenged in different ways, such as through digitalisation from the perspective of digital deliveries for production (the building information model) and as a mediated image of architecture to come (the rendering). However, a parallel line of discourse can be seen, also tied to the digital, in which craft has re-emerged thanks to new digital fabrication technologies. On one hand, it can be seen as a very direct approach to architecture as a material outcome, but on the other it has also provided renewed links back through architectural history.


Design-driven explorations are relevant in tackling societal challenges

Design and architecture for unpacking

Bruno Latour (1999) uses the term black boxed to denote the sealing of networks of people and things. Products and different parts of the built environment could be seen as sealed networks whose internal components are hidden, and the contents have ‘become a matter of indifference’ (Callon & Latour 1981:285). A mobile phone, a building and the electricity grid could be examples of black boxes. We are rarely exposed to the actants constituting and upholding these artefacts, and their inner workings remain complex and obscure for most of us. According to Latour (1994:36) for a black box to open up, something in the system must happen or break down, but design in itself could also be used as a tool to make these things happen (Ehrnberger et al. 2013). In the example of the electricity grid, production for most people is something that takes place far away and whose infrastructure is hidden in the ground, behind walls and in sockets. Most of the time, householders only interact with the products in the system such as lamps or domestic appliances, part of black-boxed networks in themselves. Thus ironically, we only become aware of electricity when it is absent, such as in a power outage. What remains hidden and what becomes an interface, a stage, life worlds etc., is greatly influenced by systems of power. Design is part of normalising such relations, usually by making artefacts appear okay even though they result in grave injustice and ecological harm. Here, the artificial is reproducing the dynamics of the system through the embedded ideology. It is ‘the subjective grip of the values of the dominant order that designers reproduce’ (Boehnert 2018:21). But design need not only be an

Figure 5 The Androchair is designed after women’s negative experiences with the gynecologist chair. The Androchair is a norm critical design made to expose current standards regarding gynecology and andrology (Ehrnberger et al. 2017). Image credits: Martin Brunn. Model: Carl Olof Berg.

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4 The quality of a thing that allows for an individual (or a group of people) to perform an action in a certain way (Gibson 1979; Norman 1990.)

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agent for capitalism and injustice, it can also be a tool for examining the historical and contemporary norms that are imprinted into the artificial, exposing the practices that are afforded 4 and constrained by design at different scales, as well as imagining and materialising artefacts that could enable other stories and practices to form (Broms 2014).

Design-driven research

5 Deduction is generally defined as ‘the deriving of a conclusion by reasoning’ while induction is about forming a generalisation based on what is known or observed. Abduction on the other hand involves forming a conclusion from information that is known. In other words seeking the simplest and most likely conclusion from what is observed.

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Design research belongs to a science of the artificial, in contrast to the study of natural phenomena adhering to the natural sciences (Simon 1969). A science of the artificial is neither inductive or deductive (the traditional ways of conducting research) but more in line with an abductive form of reasoning when moving between the particular and the general5. A science of the artificial has traditionally not been part of the scientific paradigm since it is a normative, design-oriented study that is not interested in finding truth, but rather exploring possibilities of the future and good life (ibid.; Dahlbom 2002). Or as suggested by Claus Krippendorff (2006), how designers can change existing regularities and overcome contingencies that cause recurring problems to make a difference in present and future societies. In a science of the artificial, knowledge produced should relate to ideas, theories, logics and implications for research about, for and through design (Frayling 1993). In addition to the external construction of theory (through observations of external phenomena), reflecting through design practice opens up the opportunity for a different criticality space. This design-driven type of research provides a shift from things as propositional and ‘problem-solving’ to become instead a process for the internal evolution of ideas and theory, using design for ‘problem-finding’. Since Christoffer Frayling (1993) (based on Herbert Read) suggested research through design as a viable road for design research, many design researchers from several creative fields have made use of design experiments as part of their processes. They hail from both architecture and design but also more engineering-informed and artistic-based research fields. In architecture, this has commonly been referred to as research by design (Hauberg 2011), but there are quite a few other terms that denote different approaches aimed at distinguishing the role of design-driven research from other research methodologies (Steinö & Markussen 2011; Krogh et al. 2015). The design process itself is often regarded as a main vehicle for enquiries in this design-driven type of research where the design process ‘forms a pathway through which new

‘But design need not only be an agent for capitalism and injustice, it can also be a tool for [...] imagining and materialising artefacts that could enable other stories and practices to form.’


Design-driven explorations are relevant in tackling societal challenges

insights, knowledge, practices and products come into being’, ‘generates critical inquiry through design work that may include realised projects, proposals, possible realities and alternatives’ and ‘produces forms of output and discourse proper to disciplinary practice, verbal and non-verbal that make it discussable, accessible and useful to peers and others’ (Hauberg 2011:51). Different research communities with greater or lesser overlap strive to establish the research area’s foundational theories, methods and approaches where a design experiment is conducted as part of a research effort and where the artefact can be both the method and result. Koskinen et al. (2011; 2015) has argued for the use of the term constructive design research as the fundamental epistemology collecting all the different strands of design-driven research. It emphasises the making of artefacts as the key means in constructing knowledge (Koskinen & Krogh 2015; Koskinen et al. 2011). The design process at the core of this research is in many ways identical to that of other types of design and architectural practices. It is the theoretical scaffolding, that which surrounds the design, that makes the difference (ibid.). While the methodological foundations of this type of research are still very much under development and critical voices have been raised (Zimmerman et al. 2010; Bardzell et al. 2012), it is a growing field of research. There are many promising approaches and the potential for research with design practice at its core, should outweigh any potential doubts. As an example, critical and speculative design has proven to be a promising research tool for engaging with larger discourses in the sciences and humanities, moving beyond technical rationality and problem solving and instead situating research between the general (overarching) and the particular (everyday) through design experiments. In the wake of the ecology of crises, there has also been an increased openness for more radical approaches to system change in some indus-

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Figure 6 The Krets research collective explored alternative production technologies combined with interaction through a series of architectural installations, following a research-bydesign approach. Krets 2003 – 2005. Image credits: Krets / Daniel Norell, Pablo Miranda and Jonas Runberger.


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‘Critical and speculative design has proven to be a promising research tool for engaging with larger discourses in the sciences and humanities.’

trialised countries. The very same societies are also among the top polluters in the world. Sustainability efforts often balance between humanitarian and environmental interests that intersect and even compete due to larger historical and philosophical traditions between ideas of nature and culture, progress, change, individualism and collectivism. Design seems to be well-suited to opening up and negotiating this complexity – a society filled with wicked problems, problems that can never be finally and universally solved (Rittel & Webber 1973). What are good solutions for some groups turn out to be the opposite for others. Yesterday’s solutions become today’s problems. Using design as a tool for unpacking black boxes, design research can expose present structures and make alternatives tangible in more nuanced and evocative ways. By engaging materials and form, socio-material relations can be explored in ways not otherwise easily accessible, allowing multitudes of perspectives and providing for more nuanced discussions. Even though the existing ‘research-by-design’ discourses within architectural research and design research have had slightly different focuses (Roggema 2017), the design practice as a driver for exploration and knowledge-making is a central tenet. The knowledge produced through the making (of an experiment) and the potential for societal change (the experimental outcome) are equally as important and are both crucial for research.

Programmatic design

7 It is ‘exemplary’ since it enables critical dissemination through examples of what could be done and how.

Programmatic design research as set forth by Brandt and colleagues (Brandt et al. 2011) is a methodology that has gained in popularity among design research scholars in recent years, and acts as a bridge between the practice of design and the practice of research. It is an attempt to model the foundations of design research on research traditions already established in the natural sciences, social sciences and art rather than its own specificity (Koskinen et al. 2011; Krogh et al. 2015). In some ways, this type of design research still has to go beyond established disciplinary modes of inquiry (Brandt et al. 2011). Using the ‘programme’ concept from the architecture and design communities (for example as in an architectural programme, i.e. a building’s activities and functions) while combining it with the concept of the experiment from research – exemplary7 design research driven by programmes and experiments – it seeks to address underlying research questions by conducting experiments that act as exploratory probes into what a programme can entail. A


Design-driven explorations are relevant in tackling societal challenges

programme, acting as a ‘basic assumption that is not really questioned’, can be seen as a form of provisional world view (Redström 2017). It is the dialectic between the programme and the experiments that addresses the underlying research question rather than the experiments directly since the programme helps to frame the inquiry and the experiments become different interpretations of this framing (Brandt et al. 2011). In other words, the programme is dependent on the experiments to materialise and make tangible the hypothetical world view, and the experiments are dependent on the programme to set forth frames and direction for a directed form of material exploration. In the following chapters, we invite you to critically examine the present through design speculations. Using our (experimental) design research practice, we want to render tangible the space of possibilities entailed by a proposed design programme – Beyond Efficiency: going beyond the contemporary sustainability discourse emphasising technological efficiency and optimisation but too little else. By suggesting new lines, arranging words and distributing surfaces in alternative ways, we propose alternative forms of inhabiting the world and in doing so, questioning the configurations of what can be seen and thought.

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Speculative design explores alternative pasts, presents and futures Josefin Wangel, Loove Broms & Jonas Runberger

Speculative design

Speculative approaches are found in most branches of design. Examples can be found in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, industrial design, service design, and interaction design; they are distinguished primarily by the scales and socio-material relations they engage in. In this context, the term scale refers to the size of the designed space, object or service rather than the type of questions pursued. Global issues such as energy justice or climate change, might equally well be fruitfully explored through the speculative design of small things as through a piece of speculative landscape architecture. Indeed, one could argue that all design is speculative in the sense that it engages with things that do not yet exist; design is an inherently future-oriented practice (Nelson & Stolterman 2003). This means that temporality alone cannot be used as a factor in distinguishing speculative design from other types of design. Instead, we suggest that speculative design is better defined through the types of questions asked and outcomes sought. In the following, we will use speculative design as an umbrella term, encompassing all approaches that make use of designerly means to explore alternative pasts, presents and futures.

From what-if to as-if

At the heart of speculative design lies the formulation of a ‘what-if’ scenario (Knutz et al. 2014). Formulating a what-if scenario comprises two parts: first, defining a what-if question, and second, exploring the possible consequences the what-if might have, should it become (be, or have been) true. In reality, the process is often not at all this linear, but includes several iterations between formulating questions and consequences. And sometimes it is not until the end of the process that you become aware of what the what-if question really was, or that you have been working with multiple what-if questions. This is all perfectly fine. The main reason for developing a what-if scenario is to create a vantage point from which new perspectives and insights can be gained. This vantage point can either provide a basis for defamiliarisation, through which existing relations and phenomena can become denaturalised and thus available for critical engagement, or for ‘seeing round corners’ and exploring the possible consequences of new relations or

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‘And sometimes it is not until the end of the process that you become aware of what the what-if question really was, or that you have been working with multiple what-if questions. This is all perfectly fine.’

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phenomena. What-if scenarios can be developed through a number of different gestures, some common examples being extrapolation, taking things to their extremes, swapping and other types of displacement, and different ways of working with conceptual blending. What-if scenarios may focus on any aspect seen as relevant to explore, from death (Auger 2013) to repair practices (Wakkary et al. 2012) and to feminist design project management (Radzikowska et al. 2019). What-if scenarios can be formulated with a range of different desired outcomes in mind; to spur a process of innovation; to explore the possible consequences of new technologies or altered socio-bio-material relations; to shed new or better light on historical or present conditions and injustices, or all of these. What-if scenarios can also be less instrumental and more curiosity-driven, such as ‘What if our cities (and our lives) were to be organized as if we lived in a supermarket?’ (No-Stop City by Archizoom Association, 1969, in Knutz et al. 2014). While what-if scenarios are often used to explore possible near or distant futures, they could also be used to explore alternative presents and pasts. Formulating a what-if question and fleshing it out into a scenario might include both qualitative and quantitative work. Let’s say you’re interested in food security and want to carry out a speculative design project to explore this further. In order to formulate a relevant what-if question and scenario, you need to know what food security is about – what do the socio-bio-material relations of the current food production system look like; what are the socio-ecological consequences of this, and how does food security play out across different social groups, etc. However, this initial research phase is not intended to be exhaustive, but is a way of gearing up for the design-driven exploration. Think of it as getting ready for a hike, one where you will most likely need to stock up with more supplies along the way. One of the defining aspects of speculative design is the designdriven process through which the main exploratory work takes place. In the process, it is essential that the scenario be treated as a postulate, i.e. the what-if question and scenario are referred to as if they were true. Only in this way can the what-if question and its implications successfully be explored. In a sense, this is quite similar to the way in which a programmatic design research process works, where the hypothetical world view suggested through a design programme is used to guide design experiments.


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Design fiction

Speculative design includes a number of sub-genres, each distinguishable through its disciplinary genealogy, tools, scales and ambitions. Of these sub-genres, one of the best-known is design fiction. Design fiction is characterised by a focus on developing speculative products and services, and their use in exploring and telling stories about alternative practices, relations, or ways of organising society. One of its earliest definitions was formulated by the science fiction writer Bruce Sterling, who suggests that design fiction is: ‘the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change [...] It means you’re thinking very seriously about potential objects and services and trying to get people to concentrate on those - rather than entire worlds or political trends or geopolitical strategies. It’s not a kind of fiction. It’s a kind of design. It tells worlds rather than stories.’ Sterling 2012:n.p.

A diegetic prototype is an artefact (a technology, product, service, space...) that only exists in a fictional world, but which works and performs work in that world (Kirby 2010). Because the artefact performs work, it is performative, i.e. an integral part of socio-material relations and has an impact on both the configuration and functionality of these relations. But it is also performative in relation to what the viewer or reader understands about the fictional world. In books and movies, diegetic prototypes are often ‘things in the corner’ (Bleeker 2009:23), passed by without being noted but still contributing to the creation of both story and world. However, in design fiction projects, the diegetic Figure 7 The Straight is a speculative design proposal that presents a near future narrative where closed borders transformed the Öresund bridge, between Sweden and Denmark, into a migrant city under UNHCR control, after events following the migration ‘crisis’ in 2015. The proposal challenges our way of regarding geographically distanced problems, and was developed by architect Björn Bondesson. Image credits: Björn Bondesson.


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prototypes tend instead to be the only things presented, as ‘objects on display’ (Mazé 2019:33) – sometimes accompanied by a shorter narrative or scenography.

Speculative architecture

Another type of speculative design concerns architecture, spanning a scale from building interiors to landscapes. Speculative architecture has some of its roots in the radical movements of the late 1960s, which rejected the modernist central planning project in mainstream practice and sought to explore alternative, more experimental modes of architecture. Examples include the work of Constant Nieuwenhuys, Archigram (Van Schaik & Mácel 2005), and Superstudio (Lang & Menking 2003). In his lifelong New Babylon project, Constant Nieuwenhuys explored a future where citizens no longer had to work. He manifested his ideas in drawings and models of an artificial landscape. The British architectural practice Archigram used drawing and representation as means to explore alternative architecture, in reaction to what they regarded as a culture of policy-making rather than design in architectural schools and offices in the early 1960s. Even though Archigram regarded themselves as a practice (in contrast to being researchers or artists), their designs were not thought of as final solutions but as vehicles for exploring the relation between control and choice, as seen in projects like Computer City, Plug-in City, Instant City, or Walking Cities (Sandler 2005). The Italian practice Superstudio operated in a dual mode, where regular architectural commissions paralleled provocative projects that challenged the notion of objects and formal structures of power. The main driver for Superstudio was to deliver a continuous critique of architecture as a discipline, and of normative cultural values in society. The relation between their commercial and critical work was often blurred in the sense that their speculative architectural projects could blend into product designs becoming available on the market.

Is speculative design critical?

Speculative design is often conflated with critical design, either by assuming that speculative design is inherently critical, or by talking about speculative and critical design (SCD) as one (admittedly heterogenous) field of practice. One reason for this conflation is that critical design tends to be positioned as an alternative to problem-solving types of design, as well as design which operates through and for the logics of mass-production and mass-consumption (Dunne & Raby 2001). Under such a definition, speculative design is indeed inherently critical.


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‘Such an understanding of critical design seeks to defamiliarise and repoliticise taken-for-granted subject positions, practices and relations.’

There are also arguments that critical design is inherently speculative. However, while critical design can be carried out through the use of a what-if scenario, we see that what distinguishes critical design is that it is first and foremost a mode of critique. By separating speculation and critique, we see that the relationship between speculation and critique is better described as mutualistic rather than symbiotic. Speculative design can be used as a tool for critique, but does not need to have a critical agenda, and critical design need not only use speculation, but also other modes of developing and portraying critique. Keeping critical design separate from speculative design also helps us recognise that there is a variety of understandings of what critical design could or should be, as well as how to carry it out. Beyond providing alternatives to the problem-solving paradigm found in many design disciplines, critical design can be used to question and undermine ideological systems (Mazé & Redström 2009). Such an understanding of critical design seeks to defamiliarise and repoliticise taken-for-granted subject positions, practices and relations, a process in which questions about people and power are central: Whose pasts, presents and futures are at stake? Through whose desires, fears and ways of knowing are these pasts, presents and futures explored, made sense of, and represented? (Vieira de Oliveira 2016) This is particularly important given the blindness to, or disregard of, privilege found in many speculative design projects. This privilege not only concerns issues related to (often implicitly) assumed and foregrounded class, gender, race and ableness, etc., but also the kinds of societies and ethics that are reproduced. This often takes the form of neglect regarding the socio-bio-material relations that allow privilege to prevail, including the process of making these relations seem natural and thus neutral. One example of such neglect is the use of what-if scenarios that come across as dystopian from a standpoint of privilege, such as a lack of food or a lack of reproductive rights, but which are in fact lived realities for millions of people (Prado de O. Martins & Vieira de Oliveira 2014). Josephson-Storm (2015) describes this as: ‘the underbelly of capitalism [being] so far removed from the ordinary experiences of average citizens in developed nations that aspects of life in some [low income] countries can look downright post-apocalyptic.’

Indeed, the relevance of any speculation is always situated, meaning that ‘speculations in spaces of privilege’ (Tonkinwise 2014) or speculations on ‘first world problems’ (Vieira de Oliveira & Prado de O. Martins 2014)


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1 One common digital dictionary defines manly as ’having or denoting those good qualities traditionally associated with men, such as courage, strength, and spirit’.

might also provide useful insights, reflection and action for those spaces and the privileged people inhabiting them. Thus, the problem is not so much that speculation in and from spaces of privilege happens, but the way in which it dominates the field of speculative design and the way it and speculative designers marginalise and/or exploit the experiences, practices and desires of less privileged groups of people. One rather recent development here is norm-critical design, which is an approach that uses design as a tool to highlight and challenge norms about ‘how human beings are expected to be, act and think’ (Isaksson et al. 2017:236). Norm-critical design builds on feminist and intersectional theories on how processes or ‘logics’ of differentiation and hierarchisation (Hirdman 1988) construct groups of ‘us’ and ‘others’ and establish some groups, and their characteristics (such as men/manly 1), as better than other groups and characteristics (women/feminine).

Conversational pieces for whom, and for what purposes? A lot of speculative design engages in the world primarily through the production of discourse, leaving real and transformative change to happen elsewhere (Kiem 2014). This is not to say that the production of discourse is irrelevant. Speculative design has several potential gains which might serve as the point of departure for real change: ‘A design can propose a future that is different enough from what we would have extrapolated that it surprises us – and we desire it. It can reveal the horrifying implications of a contemporary practice. It can defamiliarize the present to render contingent that which we always thought was just natural, and open up hitherto unthought design possibilities. It can make us more empathic towards the lives and experiences of others. It can produce a design image that is gently troubling, neither utopian nor dystopian, but which nags at us to take it seriously’ Bardzell, Bardzell and Stolterman 2014:1959, in Gislev Kjaersgaard & Boer 2020 [2016]

Engaging in the production of discourse essentially means that one is aiming to have an impact on the way people think and talk. In speculative design and critical design, this tends to take place through developing artefacts intended to work as ‘conversational pieces’ (Kiem 2014; Malpass 2017:103). The word ‘conversational’ suggests that the production of discourse demands some kind of communicative interaction between the artefact and an audience. In spite of this, there are surprisingly few considerations available on how to curate such interactions, and there seems to be a rather unreflective bias towards exhibiting the artefacts using the same curatorial logic as in conventional art galleries. However, creating conversational pieces may also include inte-


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grating artefacts in an environment, or letting the environment be part of the design process from the start. It may also include creating public events (a personal favourite is the Ghost Food Truck by Miriam Simun and Miriam Songster which served artificial samples of nearly extinct food), guided tours of exhibitions, or other types of deliberately designed conversational processes. What is important to understand here is that the way (including where and when) a speculative and/or critical design project is presented will have real consequences both for the groups of people one engages and the possible outcome of their engagement. Exhibiting work in the city hall will reach different audiences than work exhibited at an arts venue, or in the local grocery store. Exhibiting ‘just’ the artefacts will allow for quite a narrow selection of people to engage with and make sense of them, while providing more context, cues or guided hands-on interaction will afford engagement from a more diverse audience. Lastly, for conversational pieces to have an impact on the production of discourse, they must have something important to say, and they need to be designed and presented in a way that lends them to substantive reflection. To do so, the speculative design project must strike a balance between the familiar and the strange. Someone once wrote that in speculative design the problem is not that there is too little ‘outside-the-box’ thinking, but rather the opposite. There are too many empty spectacles, too much superficial reflection, when ‘to be truly provocative is to rouse to action’ (DiSalvo 2012:119). Figure 8 The Recycling Belt from the research project Gendered Sustainability. Image credits. Liisa Widstrand.


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Authors

Josefin Wangel

Josefin Wangel is an undisciplined researcher based at the Department of Urban and Rural Development at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Her current research focuses on urban sustainability, which she explores through an eclectic mix of discourse analysis, critical speculation and political frustration. Josefin holds a PhD in Planning and Decision Analysis and has a background in Environmental Sciences.

Eléonore Fauré

Eléonore Fauré is an undisciplined researcher and teacher in Strategic Sustainability Studies at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. She holds a PhD in Planning and Decision Analysis and her research interests are about sustainability and environmental justice related to planning and decision-making. She is specifically interested in future studies as well as in the importance of highlighting the values embedded in different research approaches and methods e.g. scenarios or sustainability assessment tools.

Camilla Andersson

Camilla Andersson is a PhD candidate at the Department of Design at Aalto University, Helsinki. Her research explores the spectrum of normcritical design and speculative design with a special focus on gender and sustainability and related power dynamics.Camilla´s focus is to explore and theorize how the unique qualities of design that so successfully produce imaginaries can be used as critically informed tools for producing and dialogically communicating new, more just and sustainable narratives around how to inhabit this planet.


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Loove Broms

Loove Broms is an interaction designer, educator and researcher. He has a PhD in Interaction Design and holds a position as associate professor in interaction design at Konstfack, University of Arts, Craft and Design, and as a researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Loove does research in design and sustainability with a particular interest in discursive artefacts, narratives and meaning-making. Using an experimental design research approach, the intention is to problematize present consumer culture and urban development through speculative and critical design.

Pernilla Hagbert

Pernilla Hagbert holds a PhD in Architecture and currently works as a researcher in Urban and Regional Studies at the Department of Urban Planning and Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Pernilla’s research critically examines interpretations (and paradoxes) of sustainability in housing and urban development, and explores normcritical, alternative ways of doing and living as part of transitions to a lowimpact society.

Jonas Runberger

Jonas Runberger is an architect operating both in commercial practice and academia. He is an Artistic Professor in Digital Design at Chalmers Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, and head of Dsearch, a team for computational design at White arkitekter AB. His research and practice regards the integration of digital methodologies into the architectural design process and its agency in practice and society. Jonas holds a PhD in Architecture from KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Hajar Sadequi

Hajar Sadequi is an industrial designer with a particular interest in cultural trends, and her design work is mainly focused on sustainability through a norm-critical approach. She has a BFA in Industrial Design from Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design, and is currently working as a research assisstant at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.



AADR publishes innovative artistic, creative and historical research in art, architecture, design and related fields. www.aadr.info

www.spurbuch.de


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