Addressing complex multi-scale problems like sustainable urban development and climate change means connecting problems that are hyper-local to problems that are regional and global. The wicked problem at the core of any initiative that connects the hyper-local to the regional and the global is fact that different individuals, communities, and institutions that live in different locales and that operate on different bio-socio-geographical scales will possess incommensurate value frameworks and will reasonably disagree on what is the “right” thing to do. Synthesis@ASU's ateliers for prototyping social forms are uniquely suited to addressing this core problem. We connect designers and expert makers to communities and institutions impacted by multi-scale problems to help them work with and through their differing value frameworks and jointly vary and assess social forms at lifescale.
Our ateliers create prototypes and assess how people experience technologies, products, services, and infrastructures in plausible, robust social settings. They accomplish this by drawing upon Synthesis@ASU’s fusion of art, science, conceptual and experiential methods and by scaling up techniques for creating augmented experiences. We prototype events (play, meal, learning), places (home, street, city), and infrastructures (energy, finance, governance) to the degree needed to get a sense of what it would be like to actually live with those forms.
HOW DOES IT WORK
We build a prototyping facility that fills the gap between the lab and the open world, where our clients can experiment with the social form that they want to vary. Drawing from a spectrum of low and high tech methods, plus off-the-shelf as well as purpose-built technologies, our resident designers and expert makers — e.g. artists, engineers — realize alternatives proposed by clients and experimentalists, co-designed with stakeholders from the impacted constituencies. All participants experience the varied social form, assess the quality of their lived experience of the prototype, and suggest further variations.