Activating data through eco-didactic design in the public realm: Enabling sustainable development in cities

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Funding Sponsor

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Third Author's Department

Architecture Department

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Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Sustainability (Switzerland)

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This paper explores how design in the public realm can integrate city data to help dissemi-nate the information embedded within it and provide urban opportunities for knowledge exchange. The hypothesis is that such art and design practices in public spaces, as places of knowledge exchange, may enable more sustainable communities and cities through the visualization of data. To achieve this, we developed a methodology to compare various design approaches for integrating three main elements in public-space design projects: city data, specific issues of sustainability, and varying methods for activating the data. To test this methodology, we applied it to a pedogeological project where students were required to render city data visible. We analyze the proposals presented by the young designers to understand their approaches to design, data, and education. We study how they “educate” and “dialogue” with the community about sustainable issues. Specifically, the research attempts to answer the following questions: (1) How can we use data in the design of public spaces as a means for sustainability knowledge exchange in the city? (2) How can community-based design contribute to innovative data collection and dissemination for advancing sustainability in the city? (3) What are the overlaps between the projects’ intended impacts and the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? Our findings suggest that there is a need for such creative practices, as they make information available to the community, using unconventional methods. Furthermore, more research is needed to better understand the short-and long-term outcomes of these works in the public realm.

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