process update: translating participation | creative meeting in Madrid

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Last Friday at Ecosistema Urbano we held our usual collective meeting about Dreamhamar, and spent the whole morning sharing knowledge, experiences, points of view and ideas, building a common approach to the urban design for Stortorget.

Usually, the work of the team at Ecosistema Urbano is divided in different tasks and projects, sharing the workflow in a fluid, natural way, but for the Dreamhamar project we are making some exceptions. This is a very complex project where everyone in EU has been involved in one or another way and the expertise is spread along the team, so when facing the challenge of merging the participation process with the urban design project, we count on every single view in order not to miss a thing and to get the most out of ourselves. One of the best ways of doing this is personally meeting, reviewing the process and the results, and sharing thoughts about them. So there we were, architects and planners from Spain, Norway and some other countries, together with an urban sociologist, sitting around a table.

By now we have gone over all the ideas collected through the different activities, having condensed them in a matrix containing about 300 keywords and topics. This is helping us to view the whole context at a glance and establish new links between its parts, but it’s also important to revisit the actual inputs of the participants (their drawings, their texts, their actions, etc.) as they are very inspiring, and that’s what we did last Friday.

Of course a participatory project still relies on the know-how and creativity of the professionals creating it. You don’t just mix (even very good) suggestions and get a fantastic project automatically, as some of the people that participated may expect. As an hypothetical example, your proposal of an x-shaped fountain won’t probably make it through the process exactly like that —it’s obviously impossible to build all the fountains we saw in hundreds of people’s drawings, and it wouldn’t make sense to directly choose one between them. But if the presence of this idea is relevant enough, there will be probably something related to water. Maybe moving water, or even a proper fountain, but with a shape that makes sense with the rest of the project and gives space to other elements and activities that are also expected to take place there.

integral perspective

So during this month we focused on translating complex ideas into concepts, more than on mixing specific solutions or shapes. This involves extracting the most relevant contents through analysis, discussion and drafting sessions, and creatively building upon them, synthesising them in combined solutions so that more ideas can be represented. After we draft, discuss and select the most promising of these solutions, we study their feasibility, both technical and economical, and they make their way into the final project.tradition and identity

The last session was very intense. Projecting ideas, drawings, reports and photos on the wall boosted our creativity and the discussion went on over very relevant topics such as local identity and history, seasonal change and weather, urban life, universal design, basic elements like light, water and fire, presence of local art and cultural activity, furniture, children’s relation to public spaces, mobility issues, economy and maintenance, etc.

Below you can see the graphical notes that Jaime took in real time during the meeting, showing some of the contents and topics that arose:

Jaime's drawings meeting - click to enlarge⬆ Click to enlarge

And that’s all for now. Through this and similar updates we will try to keep you informed about the design process, and on the intermediate reviews we will be sharing with Hamar’s Kommune the different possibilities we are dealing with, so they can be discussed with them.

Stay tuned!