The Society & Design Lab brings together scholars and practitioners from different disciplines to discuss methods for investigating the urban condition. Workshops are geared towards developing fruitful exchanges between disciplines and encouraging experimentation with different tools for understanding how the built environment is composed, developed, understood, experienced, and lived. Critiques of urban spatial production remain sequestered within disciplinary discussions and often do not make it to those who design, plan, and build the city. This working group seeks to encourage experimentation across disciplines, including architecture, landscape architecture, sociology, and urban design. Since many practitioners and urban scholars operate with a working understanding that design should always engage with a sense of place and context - both physical and social context - why is it that this does not always (or even often) happen? What goes wrong? What tools are designers and social scientists missing? Why aren’t the critiques pointed out by theorists, critics, social scientists, or historians being considered in design education and practice? What needs to happen in order for our cities to be filled with designs that are truly responsive to context, and that offer meaningful engagement with the social and cultural aspects of place? Addressing these questions must involve conversations about process and the assumptions often made by practitioners and scholars.
Workshops are geared towards cross pollinating tactics and tools of analysis outside of the disciplines in which they are traditionally used. We explore how we might bring the words and statistics and narrative studies often used by sociologists into play in the design of spaces. Similarly, we question what role the use of maps and photographs, image analysis, drawing techniques, and recorded site observations can play in sociological studies. This will serve to assist scholars and practitioners - from all fields that study the urban - to develop theoretical and practical competencies for working with and designing for specific place-based, contextual manifestations, rather than general phenomena.