Cultural Interventions


The Out of Control theme is interested in the design and development of open systems. Culture continuously evolves and cannot be contained, a truly open system. Culture needs to be experienced, lived and shared. Your challenge is to help questioning people’s preconceptions and prejudices, make them do things together, create bonds and, by doing so, raise new interests, create new meanings, new values [1,2]. In this project you will become actors in the process within the system of a local context; you will be placed into this system and be part of the social structures you are designing for. You will actively discover, participate and reflect in situ. You will design meaningful interaction points for active dialogue and collaboration [3,4].

Main competency development targeted in:


Targeted blocks

B1; B2; B3.2; M1.1; M1.2.


Johanna Kint, Matthias Rauterberg


Path of Life project


Design is not neutral or objective. Design needs to be needed. Design is a process that contributes to improve human wellbeing and the livelihood of a neighborhood, touching with real problems and concerns that the city struggles with. Design gets off the designers table and moves into the world. It forces to go beyond beautiful design or nicely found techniques. Design is a way to interrupt daily experiences and confront the citizens with others [4]. Partnership between designers and the city is a win-win situation. It adds value for the city and the designers that work for it. The process always has a positive result both for the city and designers, even if there is no concrete realization. It gives new dynamics of change. However, design is especially vulnerable in those contexts because you ask inhabitants to participate and therefore you create expectations. Do not underestimate the impact and the time required for the implementation of your design. The end result should be practical, suitable for immediate use. Inhabitants are not waiting for another design on paper that never gets materialized.

With Cultural Interventions we focus on the emergent cultures. It is not about preserving, it is about making culture. It is about supporting the new, the situation as it is and not as it was. We look for ways to connect people from several cultural (sub) groups. We want to challenge you to create products, systems or services that help questioning people’s cultural prejudices, raising new interests, and, by doing this, create new ways of interfering with one another in an urban community environment. This explicitly asks for a systems design approach, working together with other designers, and being aware of the many connections and relations present in urban community systems. This project provides you with the opportunity to focus on the cultural impact design can have on a very local, but highly connected scale. Designing for a target group is not possible without keeping cultural consequences in mind. Cultural interventions forces you to look beyond aesthetically well designed products and state of the art techniques. In this project the emphasis is put on bringing design into the everyday life of people and designing for the complexity of everyday urban life.

Design challenges or research questions

As designers, like social workers, you will be an actor in the neighborhood. You will be part of its interactions, its functions and processes, in short, a part of a living system. You will actively participate, discover and reflect on the neighborhood. You will confront yourselves and analyze your place in the neighborhood. You will start from the know-how available to move away from the conceptual stage: looking for interesting systems design opportunities in the environment surrounding you, in order to break out of the abstract thinking. During your learning process you will have to broaden your horizon, confront yourselves with the reality you live in and get inspiration from a potential clash. You have to get a clear view on the needs of the people who you design with. Investigating is of great value as much as the realization of the project and the integration of real life aspects. Both activities are deeply intertwined with each other.

Co-creation it is more than designing with (innovation with the end user is co-design). It is about creating value and how it relates to the cultural value of the intervention. You will design meaningful interaction points for an active dialogue and collaboration. You will define business models and points of interaction and the steps in between. You will have to balance your personal (designer’s) intentions with the ones from the stakeholders and the local urban system as a whole. You will explore and design for linking the community and designers in order to go beyond the funding from the government and empower them while looking for other streams of validation.


[1] Overbeeke, C.J. (2007). The aesthetics of the Impossible. Inaugural Lecture. Technische Universiteit Eindhoven.

[2] Kint, J.M.L., Overbeeke, C.J. (2009). Towards New Meaning. In Trotto, A. (eds.), Rights through making: wearing quality. Firenze. 10-14.


[4] Rauterberg, M. (2006). "From personal to cultural computing: how to assess a cultural experience," uDayIV–Information nutzbar machen, pp. 13-21.

[5] Kint,J.M.L., Tomico, O., Ferwerda, I. (2013). Improving social cohesion in the Brussels neighborhood through research and design in interaction, in M. Koegeler and R. Parncutt (ed.), Interculturality: Practice meets Research, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp.150-166 (to be published).

OoC: projects/CulturalInterventions (last edited 2013-05-15 09:16:23 by anewhope)