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3 Final Remarks

This preliminary user study has provided indications in the intersection of several fields like urban planning, community informatics and 3D modeling, and addressed related ambits of research like: how to collect knowledge from large communities of citizens [5], real time testing of ideas, citizen agency in the design process. As it is clear from the concise outline of the project reported above, further work and new field studies and workshops are needed before definitive finding can be proposed to the research community. That notwithstanding, some ideas can be extracted from the experience and shared in the following points:

• The scope of the project was not to evaluate classic parameters of urban design and planning such as cost or quality of execution, but rather aspects subject to temporality like the interest and degree of appropriation that this project could raise among the neighborhood inhabitants. To this aim, the designers created the collaborative platform, by simply integrating off-the-shelf, but yet state-of-the-art, Webbased technologies, and called for ideas and contributions. Notably, online social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter did not really help as process triggers or working platforms, but rather as scaffolding resources and follow-up resources of dissemination. To this respect, the user study reported here provides motivations for the development of better interfaces that could improve communication and knowledge sharing between designers and citizens [6].

• All stakeholders tended to engage for a longer time when they felt to be part of the

process and could appropriate it [7].

• Content, in the sense of use program, must be planned in advance, allowing some

“slack room” for spontaneous or unexpected evolution [8].

• A determined life cycle or intervention agenda and its evolution must be thought

ahead of the beginning of the process. There is a new temporal dimension to urban design [9].

• Design on itself is just a stage among many others in the overall process of shaping

a final installation in city areas. Cost control, planning, scope and the final closing of the project are other key steps to the final success [10]

• Arnstein described citizen participation adopting the metaphor of the ladder [2],

where the two first critical steps were to “educate” opinions into people and get them back from the crowd as a substitute for genuine participation.

• Open access software tools are increasingly appearing and blurring the limits be-

tween designer and the end user [11]. The client, as in other fields, is becoming a responsible and empowered end user.

These and other lessons learned from this year long experience were gathered and an agenda has been established for the next months. We realized that the design and execution stages worked reasonably well but the quality and timing of the input proved to b critical and therefore must be improved. Citizens must be persuaded that surveys of urban design are truly aimed at gathering their opinions, as a preliminary but necessary means so that the design community can take their ideas seriously. Even more than this, new Web 2.0 tools and visual 3D modeling suites can be integrated as effective tools to have designers and citizens communicate, collaborate and put collective ideas into action.

How these tools and procedures should be adapted so to become suitable for other collaborative initiatives of social, cultural or sustainable nature is still an open problem that deserves more studies, where the main challenges lie in the heterogeneity of the stakeholders involved and hence of the requirements to satisfy.

In particular, we will aim our next research efforts in considering the temporal dimension along which this kind of projects unfold, and also the visibility dimension of such a project trajectory, all together with its partial and final outputs. In this latter case, effective indicators of citizen awareness, engagement, adoption and appropriation of the final installation should be investigated and tested in the field, by combining quantitative and qualitative techniques.

References

1. Brabham, D.C., Sanchez, T.W., Bartholomew, K.: Crowdsourcing public participation in transit planning: preliminary results from the next stop design case. In: TRB 89th Annual Meeting Compendium (2010)

2. Arnstein, S.R.: A ladder of citizen participation. Journal of the American Institute of Planners 35, 216–224 (1969)

3. Quercia, D.: Urban: crowdsourcing for the good of London. In: Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference on World Wide Web Companion, pp. 591–592. International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee (2013)

4. Rosenman, M.A., Gero, J.S.: Modelling multiple views of design objects in a collaborative cad environment. Computer-Aided Design. 28, 193–205 (1996)

5. Cabitza, F., Simone, C.: Investigating the role of a web-based tool to promote collective knowledge in medical communities. Knowledge Management Research & Practice 1, 392–404 (2012)

6. Orlikowski, W.J.: Material Knowing: The Scaffolding of Human Knowledgeability. European Journal of Information Systems 15, 460–466 (2006)

7. Seltzer, E., Mahmoudi, D.: Citizen Participation, Open Innovation, and Crowdsourcing: Challenges and Opportunities for Planning. Journal of Planning Literature 28, 3–18 (2013)

8. Robinson, M.: Design for unanticipated use. In: Third European Conference on ComputerSupported Cooperative Work, pp. 187–202. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Milano (1993)

9. Carmona, M.: Design coding: mediating the tyrannies of practice. In: Urban Design in the Real Estate Development Process, pp. 288–303 (2011)

10. Sanders, E.B.-N.: Generative tools for co-designing. In: Scrivener, S.A.R., Ball, L.J., Woodcock, A. (eds.) Collaborative Design, pp. 3–12. Springer, London, London (2000)

11. Van Abel, B., Evers, L., Troxler, P., Klaassen, R.: Open design now: why design cannot remain exclusive. BIS Publishers (2014)

 
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