Urban Play: Socially sustainable design through creating cultural and educational playgrounds in urban space

Format: Papers, RSD12, Topic: Cases & Practice, Topic: Methods & Methodology, Topic: Socioecological Design

Sunniva Münster

The research explores how socially sustainable system-oriented design and participatory design methods can create collaboration between design students and communities. By creating experimental, cultural and educational “playgrounds” and interventions in urban space, the aim is to challenge the role of product design education in developing more socially sustainable and socially responsible design objects and futures. Firstly, this paper will define the concept of socially sustainable design, and the research will discuss the ideologies present in acts of design and how these acts can bring communities together; to include and exclude, or homogenize or diversify. Secondly, the paper addresses issues related to the designer’s and researcher’s role in challenging, disrupting and transforming existing societal systems and structures. Thirdly, the research introduces and discuss two experimental cases and design projects that involve product design students and citizens and the community in Søndre Nordstrand and in Bjørvika in Oslo. The paper concludes with a discussion on the influences and learning experiences social design and social theories can have on product design education, looking beyond the quality of the objects themselves to the aesthetics of the social, psychological and cultural experiences they mediate.

This papers is in production. RSD12 proceedings April 2024.

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Citation Data

Author(s): Sunniva Münster
Year: 2023
Title: Urban Play: Socially sustainable design through creating cultural and educational playgrounds in urban space
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 10 November 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested citation format (APA)

Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

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Peter Jones
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In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholars spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

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