EcoBuild 2013: Bring on the Social City

EcoBuild is a bit of a tradition for us here at Mend. We are proud to say that the inspiration for chucking ourselves out there and starting our own thing came from feeding off the buzz and excitment we felt when we were walking around EcoBuild 2010. Much has happened since then…

This year saw Liane present for the fourth year running! She took part in a session that was chewing over the question “How can design help to create sustainable communities?” and shared a stage with Gary Young, Farells; Sue Riddlestone, BioRegional and Wendy Shillam, architect + urbanist.

Liane’s main proposition was that we won’t have a chance of being able to design sustainable communities until we have had the same behavioural turn in planning as we have had in economics. Cities and places are social networks and operate through the media of spaces, streets and buildings. They support, enable and inspire the millions of interactions, flows, transactions, encounters we have between people and our environment every day. This is the merry dance of everyday urban life. It can sometimes be amazing and crappy;  it is mainly ordinary and functional.

Planning is intricately tied to economics and the market. The market is intricately tied to behaviours that govern decisions, trends, values, growth. Behaviours are difficult to predict, fathom ansd sometimes rationalise – because we are human and messy and unpreditable things. So we need a planning and design approach that recognises this instead of the cluncky shoehorn device that reduces space and place and city to  spreadsheet economics; when its much more like a hadron collider thrashing about differnt dimensions.

We call this “comfortable chaos” and what we’d like to see is a behavioural approach to planning that generates the “Social City”, modelled and designed on social inteligence and realtime data on how places and cities are being used. By everyone.

If you are interested in what a planning system built on behaviural econonics would look like then we’d love to hear from you!

Email or tweet me here liane.hartley@mendlondon.og.uk      @lianemendsacity

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