LEAP Seminar @Udem (2023/11/06): Claire Petetin, SocialMachine, user-friendly tools for participatory design


Date: November 6th, 2023, 4:30-6:00 pm.

Location: Room 2064, Faculté de l’aménagement, Université de Montréal

Presented by Claire Petetin, professor at ENSA Versailles


SocialMachine, user-friendly tools for participatory design

Social Machine is an experimental, interdisciplinary and multiscalar teaching and research project, motivated by the vocation of training architects and designers in the pedagogy of architectural design for civil society. This training is part of the democratization of architectural culture. It questions the architect’s know-how in a society marked by systemic crises, which puts the architect to the test of degrowth and commitment to a sustainable world. These questions open up new perspectives on how to design differently, giving it a new social and collaborative meaning through creative experimentation with architectural pedagogical culture.

We propose that our students design collaborative design protocols that are similar to malleable representations, permeable to the expression of the imaginations of all stakeholders, or playable design aids that draw on the formats and rules of playful interactivity, to invent new dynamics of co-ideation and socialization between the various stakeholders.  Potential design protocols leave room for intuition, randomness, error, dysfunction, feedback and iteration. They take a variety of forms, halfway between collaborative and speculative drawings embellished with models or figurines in the style of tangible board games, computational self-design software for non-specialists, and video games generating architectural drawings in plan or axonometry.

Social Machine is now involved in research, within the Léav (Research Laboratory of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles), with the aim of combining the sciences of architecture with those of education. As part of a partnership with the Petite école d’architecture de Versailles (founded by ensav in 2021), the Maréchalerie Centre d’Art Contemporain, and the French Ministry of Culture, prototypes of playful participatory design tools are being tested in various public venues and schools.

This practice of in situ experimentation provides considerable theoretical material for understanding the relational process of the stakeholders involved in the project process, and the role of the architect in creating empathy and dialogue, building a common culture and fostering creativity and the confrontation of ideas between different players.

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