What is Geodesign good for?

At a recent DLA conference, I gave a presentation and after the presentation there was a panel of all the presenters afterwards and there was a question from the audience where everyone on the panel was asked: “What is geodesign good for?”

Most design projects are complex with multiple issues and agendas in place. Additionally, there are a number of other factors: social, economic and physical phenomenon in place on the study area that are intricate, subtle and complex at the same time. With this context, geodesign brings the following in the context of large urban or regional planning projects:

Collaboration: Geodesign is inherently a collaborative activity where the end product: the design (or designs) are the result of actions and inputs of the various stakeholders. Geodesign provides a template to systematically organize the project in systems, stakeholders, actions and the design itself. Thus, Geodesign has the potential to bring together wildly different people who have a shared interest in the place. Geodesign provides a blueprint for professionals, scientists and non-scientists and people of the place together to do the design activity collaboratively. This collaboration accommodates conflicting view points, contrary agendas and different methodologies seamlessly.

Negotiation: A key benefit of the geodesign process, is its power in a negotiation. By going through a process of collaborative design, there is a shared understanding and a shared language that is built around the design problem. This facilitates negotiation and compromise. The use of simple diagrams in the process further simplifies this negotiation since the diagrams act as the currency in the compromise process. There have been many studies around design compromise and I intend to highlight a couple later in other posts.

Understand the problem at hand: Given that most design problems at regional scale are extremely complex, sometimes one has to produce a design to understand the questions at hand. Indeed, this is the most contrary and unintuitive thing about the geodesign process. The process highlights keys questions that are not obvious (or may be obvious) supported by data and analysis. The process geodesign helps in clarifying assumptions, brings the stake holders on the same page buy building a shared understanding of the problem at hand.

Do you have others? Would love to hear more about it from you.

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