Designing Infrastructures of Inclusion

Designing Urban Inclusion - Metrolab Brussels MasterClass I


The key question that the Metrolab 2017 MasterClass asked was the following: ‘Can conditions of urban inclusion and hospitality, embedded in new socio-spatial infrastructures built on mutual trust, cooperation, collaboration and co-production, be designed?’ Designing such social, spatial, and eventually material infrastructures depends indeed on how we understand and define 'inclusion'. Needless to say, the framing of inclusion is always situated, specific, and historically determined. This is not to argue that a universal definition of inclusion is not possible, nor that normative ideals of global justice and democracy are not desirable, but to suggest that the normative and operational definitions of inclusion ought to be teased out of the dialectical relations between universal characterisations and particular conditions, practices, and meanings. Definitions of inclusion we employed in this workshop were framed by our key commitment to strengthening the processes and forms of socio-spatial justice making through design(ing). In our view, the commitment to justice implies focusing on its three critical dimensions: democratic practice, structural diversity, and socio-spatial and environmental inclusion. Designing in this context is a medium through which we, collectively, have envisioned, conceptualised and operationalised concrete transformative possibilities. Such possibilities are ultimately ‘designed’ to strengthen the democratic process, by expanding the inclusion of differentiated, often marginalised and historically under-represented social and cultural groups in the decision-making processes related to urbanisation and urban development. In this sense, as argued by Stavo-Debauge, ‘hospitality’ can be seen as one of the key qualitative attributes of environments, artifacts, and processes designed, whether as a temporary or permanent dimension.

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