ABSTRACT. This paper discusses the emergent practices in the fields of architecture and urban design and reveals their relevance for the future of design learning. As a starting point it distills three forms of bottom-up practices where: ordinary people reclaim and make urban spaces through self-organized acts (Occupy Urbanism); short-term, affordable and scalable interventions aiming at enabling ordinary people to take part in the shaping of their environment (Tactical Urbanism); and initiatives combining the former two by establishing a hybrid coalition network (Hybrid Urbanism). This discussion reveals that a key characteristic of these practices is the employment of design tactics grounded in time. Among these tactics are temporality, openness, ad-hocism, looseness, biophilia and bottom-up aesthetics. Reflecting on these tactics, it elaborates on how design studio education can be rethought to facilitate socially engaged forms of learning which are capable of challenging the status quo of individualistic design. It suggests Participatory Action Research (PAR) as a potential systematic framework for enabling bottom-up social knowledge building through design actions and reflections between the students, potential users and the socio-spatial context. Furthermore, it makes a brief reflection on how employing PAR in the design studio can help studio teachers to reposition design learning as a social and political practice. Building on this basis it proposes alternative ways for enabling bottom-up practices in the design studio; including a series of socially engaged tactical micro-tasks, thematic design studio assignments and design learning-in-action. pp. 84–102

Keywords: design studio; architecture and urban design; bottom-up; occupy urbanism; tactical urbanism; temporality; openness; ad-hocism; looseness; bottom-up aesthetics; participatory action research.


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Faculty of Architecture Campus Brussels,
University of Leuven, Belgium

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