Within the realm of our annual topic 2021/2022, "Reimagining Space - New Utopias", five School for Talents student teams are currently working on their indiviual group projects. Our “Public Spaces" group aims to create a prototype of a device that will allow citizens to participate in decision-making processes concerning their surroundings. One potential solution could be an interactive screen placed in public areas of interest, in order for people to share their opinions about the re-design of those city spaces.
We interviewed the group on their current project status. Their findings will be presented at our annual symposium in May 2022.
As a group, it is your goal to enable citizens to participate in the redesign of city spaces. How did you come up with the idea for your project?
We started to think about participation in urban planning in general. We realized that lots of people do have wishes concerning city spaces, but just don’t know how or where to mention them or that they are too lazy to do something for change. That’s how we came to the idea to create something that can be placed in public, so everybody has access to it. I addition to that we wanted to minimize the effort it takes to use our device.
What did you learn about participation processes in public planning? Is there something important that you have learned and would like to share at this stage?
We learned that there are already many existing ways to participate in public planning processes in Stuttgart, like the website of “Stuttgart-Meine-Stadt”. Nevertheless, most of the citizens know none of them. So, the problem is not a lack of opportunities but a lack of information. We learned that improving participation does not just create opportunities. Participation possibilities must be more user-friendly, less time-consuming and more present in the public than the already existing opportunities to really increase participation.
You are all studying different subjects. What are the benefits, or challenges, of working in interdisciplinary teams?
One huge benefit is that we all are experts in different areas. Our team consists of three engineers, one architect and one politics student. This suits our project perfectly, because public participation connects to all these areas to some extent. So, most of the time, when we plan to start working in one direction, we already have someone with background knowledge. Another point is that there are always different points of views on specific topics, which helps to get a more differentiated picture of the topic.