Tom Flanagan, Alexander N. Christakis, and Maria Kakoulaki
Design professionals working on civic design initiatives are well aware of the current trend to democratize civic think tanks. These think tanks have been taking form under the name “social labs” (Zaid Hassan, 2014), “urban labs” (Christian Scholl and coauthors, 2017), and even “sidewalk labs” as advanced by Google (Marielle Mondon, 2015). Without an explicit commitment to an identifiable design process, street-level think tanks risk devolving into familiar planning exercises. There are multiple forces acting to resist initiating, sustaining and expanding design dialogues in the public sphere. Only by recognizing these challenges can the governance of representative decision-making be genuinely and effectively balanced with inclusive alternative designs for our decision-makers.
Keywords: planning, design, civic engagement, social learning, dialogic design, cultural acceptability, meta-dialogue for design