Cities are dynamic environments featuring a multitude of lives, livelihoods, and creative possibilities. In particular, a city’s public spaces represent opportunities for human-centered design and civic innovation. They are by nature shared, in daily contact with citizens, and play a unique role in the popular imagination.
In this intensive course, we explore the principles underlying vibrant public spaces, utilizing a wide array of tools for observing and prototyping, while seeking new sources of inspiration to inform the process of urban development. We decode public spaces from multiple perspectives: as sites of recreation, interaction, and political contention; as physical infrastructure that municipal governments or grassroots citizens’ groups build and maintain for the common good; and as places with intangible qualities, such as historical memory, identity, and personal stories.
The course includes public space design experiences in San Francisco to more deeply understand the urban fabric and to enhance social benefits provided in real-world places. The course will be most suitable for students already comfortable with design processes and are interested in deepening their design abilities in the context of urban questions.
We will practice ethical approaches, using frameworks that are inclusive (for many) and participatory (by many), and strive to benefit human beings and their diverse communities. Through this experience, students learn to design with creativity, with social commitment, and with deliberation.