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December 05, 2008

City Eco Lab: thing-design to-do list

City Eco Lab asked: What would life in a sustainable St Etienne be like? and, in which ways can design help us get from here, to there?

The discovery, mapping and documentation of a territory’s natural, cultural, human resources is a key element in building resilience.

Designers and artists can be especially good at spotting assets in the territory - such as abandoned buildings, disused sites, or vernacular tools - that other people might not consider interesting.

Designers also have the expertise to visualise solutions that do not yet exist; this important activity creates a common objective that people can work towards.

Traditional communication design skills are always invaluable to people organising projects.

Thing design, too, remains important even in the “less stuff, more people” world we're creating now. Designers can improve the quality of experience, and equipment used, in all manner of resource-efficient services.

Interaction and experience designers can improve ‘touch points’ in everything from websites, to shared buildings.

And yes, some designers will ignore clients, contexts and users completely - and create sublime solutions out of thin air.

Putting it all on a ready-to-design plate, here are a few of the most pressing needs that emerged from City Eco lab:

- Biodiversity maps (of eco systems and natural resources)
- Energy and resource-use dashboards
- Rainwater capture and storage systems
- Natural filters and phytoremediation installations
- Waste and composting equipment
- Dry toilets
- Garden planting & planning tools
- Tool sheds
- Urban trellises
- Urban cold frames, greenhouses
- Raised planting beds
- Seed storage and labelling tools
- Shading structures
- Platforms for alternative trade networks
- Carts and baskets for de-motorised distribution services
- Labeling and product information systems
- Websites
- Food drying racks
- Mobile kitchens
- Benches and tables for communcal eating area
- Solar cookers
- Washrooms and lockers for communal gardens
- Neighbourhood-scale composting services and equipment.

Posted by John Thackara at December 5, 2008 09:51 PM


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