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Provocation IV: Open Questions

Note: This post is part of a series presenting the contents of our Brickstarter exhibition at the inaugural Istanbul Design Biennial, October 13-December 12th.

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“The architecture of tomorrow will be … both a means of knowledge and a means of action.” Formulaire pour un urbanisme nouveau

—Ivan Chtcheglov (1953)

There is nothing intrinsically democratic about crowdfunding, nor will it deliver a better city by itself, given our fraying social contracts. How do we avoid the inherent biases and ideologies within social media, which might be distinctly unhelpful in creating resilient cities? Crowdsourcing works well for products and software, but will it scale to the city where decisions are often singular, shared, and long-term?

While a revolution can be organised using Twitter, crowdfunding will never generate the billions required for urban infrastructure projects or urban services—yet might it locate capital to enable citizen-led proposals to be more complete, more convincing?

Might crowdfunding be a little “bread and circuses”, distracting from the city’s big issues? But what city wouldn’t be better if people cared for the small things?

Social media effectively organises events, and can certainly remove structures, but what does it suggest as a resilient, long-term replacement?

As an applied research project, Brickstarter attempts to more usefully frame these questions in prototypes. We hope it might sketch possibilities for more effective public decision-making, but also a more strategic form of design practice.

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