Planning can be a complex task depending on the factors at play such as time, participants, and topics.
Since 2012 a Swedish firm called MethodKit has dedicated itself to designing kits to simplify task in many professional disciplines using cards that raise an issue and guide the discussion.
Initially, these kits were oriented towards design and digital technology, however, with such a collaborative and easy to use tool they were expanded to architecture and urban planning.
One of the firm’s most recent releases involves the latter discipline. "MethodKit for Cities," is a kit aimed at architects, citizens, students, social organizations, planners, etc. to participate in constructing their environments.
To find out more about this kit Plataforma Urbana talked with the founder of the firm, Ola Möller, who is also the co-author of this kit along with architect Jordan Lane.
According to them, the idea behind creating this material for cities was "the need to create a visual tool that is deliberately simple and easy to use." So this kit is "a visual overview of the most important elements, actions, and aspects that make up the fabric of a city."
This means that kit creates an opportunity to talk about public spaces, environment, transportation and various urban projects, as well as other things.
While keeping in mind that "some urban planning tools may impose certain solutions or be designed for a specific group of users," in this case, they realized that they create a closeness and a common language among users, independent of their occupation.
This is largely due to conversations based on the 105 cards that raise a topic and explain what makes it so important for a city. However, there is also the option of classifying the cards into seven major themes as a way to focus the discussion on a particular topic.
Designing these cards was no simple job. In fact, just defining the topics took a year and a half of research. During this period, several meetings were held with experts in the field, workshops and focus groups served to establish nine selection criteria including; acting as a base space for development, having a direct language, and favoring discussion of important urban issues.
Accordingly, Möller mentions that the "cards should be as relevant and beneficial in Santiago as they are in Stockholm, Seoul or Sydney." This way, the usefulness of the "MethodKit for Cities" is intended for various parts of the world.
To find out if that was the case, Möller explained that there are several various sized cities in Sweden that are implementing the kits through their municipalities.
That includes large cities like Malmö and Nacka, and smaller ones such as Nässjö and Kristianstad, which are actually using it for a joint project, the new train line to the north of Sweden. The White Arkitekter architecture studio is considering including it in citizen participation phase of its projects.
In the short time the kit has been on the market a new project emerged from the Swedish Housing and Planning Council (Boverket) to develop a line that includes urban planning gender equality in cities.
Different examples how the kit can be used:
- As a tool in architecture & urban design offices. Use the kit in the studio environment to align colleagues, consultants, and clients. Use it to create future visions and scenarios or as a research tool and checklist. How do new developments fit into the existing urban fabric? What are your priorities? Did you forget any important perspectives?
- As a tool for schools & universities. Use the kit as a checklist for school projects — what elements are strongest? Are there any parts of missing? Encourage students to embrace complexity and design in real world contexts. Encourage conversation and debate by having students prioritize the cards — why are some building blocks more important than others? How does this change with time?
- As an educational tool for citizens. Many citizens have a profound interest about the city. Use the tool to help people understand the fabric of the city, with different perspectives and lenses. Knowledge is power.
- As a planning tool between architects, the city, and its citizens. Use the tool as an interface. We made a tool that has an easy to understand language without dumbing down the underlying concepts of the city. We want people to sit at the table, take part, and feel comfortable in understanding and sharing ideas.
- As a tool for data collection. Use the tool should be used for data collection. Can you give each card a value to create an inventory of local areas? You could ask citizens, friends, and neighbors what they value in their local area.
See how you can get "MethodKit for Cities" here.
News via: MethodKit.