PhD project: Regenerative Placemaking
Making places for collective life and a common future
Increased population and movement in the age of unsettlement affects local cultural institutions, ecological constitutions and the ontological sense of belonging. These conditions are arguably influenced by the mounting waste produced by the throw-away culture of the age of the ephemeral. In these times of hypercomplex eco-socio-spatial relationships, there is a growing call to move beyond mainstream sustainability. It asks for a redevelopment of the understanding, and a new narrative, of the relationship between humans, nonhumans and ecologies. Cognitive sciences and narrative studies indicate that embodied experiences of physical environments, i.e. places, are crucial to how we understand, communicate and form relationships to other humans and nonhuman beings and things. This implies that there is a need for more and new types of places for new relationships and lived experiences in these hypercomplex times.
Spatial designers influence the formation of places and use methods and expressions that have been correlated to narrative development. This study, therefore, aims to understand and develop a designerly interpretation of 'beyond sustainability'. It does so through a theoretical and practical exploration of the implication of regenerative design principles for place-making. As a testing ground for this mode of working, it explores proto-regenerative places with public access. More specifically: place-making practices that try to make sense of, and adjust, people’s relationship to waste-making practices.
To explore how waste-resource relationships could be of value for intersubjectively lived experiences of places, the study also develops a method, the directed dérive, to explore emergent phenomena of place. The study combines this exploration with a theoretical inquiry of regenerative theory. Results are the identification of possible characteristics and narrative elements of regenerative public places, as well as core principles and strategies of regenerative placemaking: regenerative eco-socio-techne; situated nonmodern narratives; empowering change. These, in turn, suggest a designerly approach to moving beyond sustainability.
Key words: regenerative design, beyond sustainability, place-making, collective public life, designerly thinking, spatial design, waste-resource cycles, nonmodern narratives, schema, dérive