Imagining and Democratizing Future Mobilities: Learning from studio designs for integrated mobile matters of concern

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How can we re-imagine the urban infrastructures of cities and offer alternative responses to the present situation of path-dependency with too much automobility-dominated, people-hostile and single-minded urban infrastructure? In which ways can future mobilities designs integrate responsible action on the ecological crisis with meaningful everyday mobilities for people and with local urban places.
Taking its outset in mobilities design research and utopian studies, this paper reports and reflects upon the 2017 IMAGINE Mobilities Design Studio at Aalborg University’s Urban Design program. The studio involved approx. 25 master students with backgrounds in architecture, urban design and urban planning from countries in Europe. It explored large- and small-scale infrastructures - systems, networks, sites and structures - of the urban territory of the city of Aalborg, Denmark, and aimed to give designerly input to open agendas for the urban mobile future. Positioned within a lineage of critical, speculative, inventive urban mobilities imaginaries, the studio investigated how existing infrastructural systems in Aalborg – designed for the 20th Century (and in some cases currently on the edge of maximum capacity and collapse) – might be modified and mobilized to address the probable, possible and preferable needs and desires of the 21st Century and beyond.
The paper cultivates a utopian energy in examining future responses to mobile matters of concern through the studio’s explorations of critical challenges and opportunities. Following this, the paper’s contribution is twofold.
First, it suggests learning points for future design of infrastructure as an integrated mobilities design discipline that is socially, ecologically, and aesthetically concerned, and critically attuned as to what to do now. For example, the studio produced an imaginary examining a city-integrated hybrid link across Aalborg’s fiord as an alternative to current official visions of a new mono-functional car-based fiord connection
Second, the paper offers a methodological reflection on how design imaginaries can contribute to democratizing futures, by articulating, communicating and negotiating key matters of concern as they give and present form to problematic and unknown future situations. The studio results are not blueprints for the future. Instead, we discuss them as counter images to path-dependency that are experientially accessible, provisional and reflexive.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventAlternatives to the Present.: A Conference on Architecture, Urbanism, Sociology, Development & Planning - Kent State University, Cleveland, United States
Duration: 1 Nov 20183 Nov 2018


ConferenceAlternatives to the Present.
LocationKent State University
CountryUnited States
Internet address

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