The Why Factory: 10 years of Research, Education and Public Engagement
For 10 years, The Why Factory has worked on the agenda of the future of our cities. It produces observations, hypotheses and statements in a visual and direct manner. It has led to a wide range of claims: the need for new leadership in urbanism and architecture in Visionary Cities; the wish for common sense in a world that seems to be dominated by individualism in (W)ego City; the advocacy for wildlife in Biodivercity; the claim for openness in Porocity; the desire for amazement in We Want World Wonders; the hope and need for acceleration of the green agenda in Green Dream; the push for the combination of small scale in densification actions in The Vertical Village; the exploration radical trend breaks and their effects in City Shock; the excitement and amazement of the new material changes in Barba; the expression of fear of the ultimately killing Absolute Leisure; and soon Copy Paste, a pamphlet for referencing and development…
The work of The Why Factory is a somehow strange phenomenon in scientific research -design research-, which is commonly regarded as a “un-scientific” method. We use design research as a tool for innovation. It is a process of trial and error, where the goal is sometimes unclear and the end is open, but which leads to an exciting journey with a potentially spectacular outcome. Maybe it can be regarded as a true combination of science and fiction…
All this work could have not been realized without the incredible input of our students and researchers. Students participate in a collective research, learn though this process and use their innocence to criticize topics. Meanwhile, researchers collaborate with students and motivate them to go beyond the fetishism of the individual product, so as to make the work comparable and productive, and to edit it to the level of the pamphlets we produce.
Through these 10 years, I have realised that the issue of the future has become more necessary as well as sexier. More and more films talk and speculate about it. More and more designers invent elements that serve the future. More and more leaders talk about the future. More and more architects dream about the future than ever…
We did not trigger the debate, but we have definitely contributed to it.
Are we ready? By far not! The future demands lots of knowledge to inform and inspire others. The cloud of What´s Nexts suspended from the exhibition
room ceiling is an invitation to further research on questionary, visionary, green, fantastic, fast, self-sufficient, austere, cute, (hi)storical, transparent, biodiverse, intimate, adaptable, free, open, emotional, surprising, natural, wonderful or common futures.
There is so much to do. Especially in days of scepticism, populism and fear. We need so much input to make our future good. More funding is needed to do research and to produce visualisations on future mobility, future democracies, future economies, future healthiness, etc. And more funding is needed to share this work with the world and make it accessible to all.
Think with us on the future! If curiosity make us unique, let us enlarge our curiosity! Let us share with us the What’s Nexts!