“You can crowdsource a revolution, but you can’t crowdsource a light rail system”

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By talking the audience through his personal notebook of the day Dan Hill reflects on the Design & The City conference. He sums up the shared questions, such as how to scale projects, how to be legitimate, and the importance of engaging with existing sectors.

A few things occured to Dan Hill. One of the recurring questions of the day was how to scale projects. If things pop-up, they are bound to pop-down. But how to scale? The conference provided some approaches to this question, such as tactical urbanism. But not all projects are fit to scale: you can crowdsource a revolution, but you can’t crowdsource a light rail system – simply because of the financial aspect of it.

There is also the shared question how to be legitimate, both the participatory society and the start-up culture are struggling with this question. Dan Hill then emphasizes the importance of engaging with the existing sectors, there is a risk of getting into an echo chamber with this debate where the citizen is the central focus. Next is the use of tactics versus strategy. These are two different things. Tactics is what you do when you know what to do. Strategy is when you try to figure out what to do, and you are unsure.

Diversity of living is another way citizens shape and take control of their cities, such as in the baugruppe example mentioned by Kristien Ring. Why do we have to fit all of society into only four housing formats? It is interesting that these strategies emerged in the crash of 2008, and that some of them prove to be resilient. But we have to be realistic and see that not all cities are Amsterdam or London – with their overactive property sectors.

Looking at the future, Dan Hill talks about the grid versus the non-grid based approach. These are not in opposition – you can go off-grid in a city. It is important to look at the project at hand: when do you need to build a mass transit line? When is a smaller approach the better approach? And finally, when you build, don’t try to be complete, but incomplete. When you build a city, you have to be able to iterate – this is the idea of the incomplete city.

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