Future visioning workshop reports

This series of workshops was conducted as part of the Liveable Cities research programme.

The Future Visioning Workshops are sector-specific workshops that bring together and leading expert in various fields to explore visions of sustainable, liveable future cities. Through a combination of hands-on activities and open discussion, these 2-hour workshop enables deep, creating thinking in a short time.

Between February 2014 and June 2015 we conducted 9 workshops with members of the following sectors: retail, education, transport, utilities, IT, heritage, ageing, and architecture.

This is a description of the workshops (taken from my paper at DRS2016)

“The workshops were 2 hours long, to allow a number of activities and structured conversations to take place, while making it possible for busy professionals to participate.

Enabling blue-sky thinking and the generation of radical ideas in such a short time was problematic. We wanted to push the conversation beyond the familiar and expected, and encourage participants to be as imaginative as possible. For this reason, several versions of the workshops had been designed, prototyped, and evaluated, before finding an engaging way to involve participants. The list of activities described below outlines the final structure of the workshop:

  • Warm up: Participants were asked to think about what has significantly changed in their sector in the last 50 years.
  • Time-limited negative Scenarios: In this exercise, participants worked in groups to answer the following question: What is the worst thing that could happen in the next 50 years to the city and/or to your sector?
  • The future liveable city: This exercise was designed to stretch the participants imagination and push their time horizon. It was done in pairs, with each pair given four Thinking cards to help them imagine what a future liveable city could be in terms of what that city would look like and where people would live fifty years from now. Silly ideas are encouraged and pairs could use different materials to visualise or explain their ideas. There are four types of Thinking Cards (environment, social aspects, economy and politics, and technology), and each card presents an issue that might become relevant in the future. These issues are included in the future low-carbon scenarios being developed as part of Liveable Cities, and are grounded in theory. This helped to contextualize the future imagined by participants within the Liveable Cities research framework. However, participants were free to question or reject the cards.
  • The future city building: In this part of the workshop we focussed on the future of the sector in the city, fifty years from now. Participants were split into two groups, provided with an array of materials (e.g., coloured blocks to represent buildings, small people, tissue paper) and asked to design a future city from their own professional perspective, bearing in mind the scenarios they created and heard about in the previous activity. Specifically, the groups needed to consider consumption and production practices, what infrastructures would need to be in-place and what the general vision of the city would be.”

After each workshop, we produced an initial report. You candownloadthe full collection of these report on the Liveable Cities Website:http://liveablecities.org.uk/outcomes/future-visioning-workshops-all-reports

The outcomes of the workshops have been visualised in the Atlas of Future Imaginary Cities.

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