The OUT [Open Urban Design Think Tank]

The Project Idea:
Better Cities through an Open-source Urban Design Think Tank
The general practice of urban designers is to say ‘oops! It was a wrong design’ after 20-30 years of the implementation! Almost none of the planning and urban design projects are ever successful in a long run especially in the growing megacities.
The fastest growing cities are now located in the poorest countries in the world. Most often they are growing without any planning or design at all. I am living in one of them, Dhaka. Crises are better realized from inside the crises!
Dhaka now has a population of around 14 million with a crazy density (probably the highest density in the world) of 45,508 per km2. The city still runs! Obviously Dhaka suffers from thousands of problems. For example few of the current severe problems are deadlock traffic jams, a tannery industry area and two cantonments inside the city, serious lack of public transportation services and thousands of small-scale urban neighborhood problems.

This project is an extension of yet it is an independent project which will be called as the ‘Open Urban Design Think-tank’ (OUT) consists of a small team of multidisciplinary design professionals, thinkers, politicians or/and general citizens. Through own research and public opinions OUT will identify the crises in the fastest growing cities of developing countries. In a 6-month’s framework OUT will try to figure out the solution of a problem in a city. At the end of the 6 months time of a specific project OUT will host a public exhibition with the better realization of the problem and possibly with the solutions. General citizens and professionals will have the opportunity to add their comments and thoughts to the solutions through the activities in the exhibitions or via the website. Thus finally after 6 months OUT will come up with a solution of an urban crisis. All those surveys, research works, designs, comments and the solutions will be published under the Creative Commons 3.0 License. Later any organization (including the government policy makers) may take those projects as references or for implementation.

Every 6 months this process may run in different cities. Initially Dhaka, Mumbai, Delhi, Lagos and Manila are in the list. The initiated projects may vary from looking towards the solution of citywide problems, very small urban-infill designs or revitalization of losing cultural richness of neighborhoods. Others may replicate the process and format of OUT projects, do their exhibitions and submit their projects to the free database. Beside these self-initiated projects OUT website will always remain open for accepting new project proposals in different cities, publication of already done research works from universities and other government or professional bodies.
Thus after the 3 years time the OUT will become a host of at least 5 solutions of major crises in cities plus hopefully more projects submitted by others. All projects will remain open to accept modifications, comments and new ideas. Thus we may hope for future-proof-solutions of urban crises in developing megacities.
The public exhibitions and involvements of people from different sectors will surely help raising the awareness about the problems and the solutions in the cities in crises. And the proposed solutions may get the opportunity of implementation whenever the politicians and governments are motivated to initiate the projects in reality. At least it will become a free database of solutions for small to large-scale urban crises of poor megacities.

In cities like ours we can not afford to do anymore mistakes, we can not afford to carry on the previous mistakes and at the same time often we can not afford to buy data, design or host R&D for the development of the cities. So offering sustainable solutions to the urban crises for free to the government and policy makers may help change the situation.

Project's Status:
The project is at now an initial stage. We are working on gathering data of (initially) Dhaka City. Soon we are going to launch an open archive of those data and couple of design competitions to start gathering the solutions to the urban problems.

You can contribute or join in this project in many ways:
1. Supply us with any research information, project information, map, urban social analysis, statistics about any city in the world.
2. Point out area specific problems of your city and ideas to solve it (if you have any).
2. Donate us to help run the project.

[Last updated November 18, 2010]

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