Mobile Futures | Design in Practice 2-4 August 2017

In this design workshop we aim to give input to open agendas for societal and urban development, in which mobilities and infrastructure are key. The workshop focuses on matters of concern that question future mobilities as social futures, that is, futures made through and with social and material everyday practices. We ask how such mobile social futures can and should be designed.

Please register here.

Conceptual Framework: Mobile Futures and Imagined Utopias

Positioned within a lineage of critical, speculative, inventive urban mobilities imaginaries, the workshop investigates how existing infrastructural systems – designed for the 20th Century (and in some cases currently on the edge of maximum capacity and collapse) – might be modified and mobilized to address the needs and desires of the 21st Century and beyond. The workshop cultivates a utopian energy and explores ideas and thought-provoking imagined landscapes, spaces, structures, or networks of mobilities on how robust, sustainable, attractive, future mobilities can be conceptualised and designed in the city of Lancaster. It works with the articulation of critical socio-technical challenges and opportunities (such as (big) data; driverless vehicles; carfree urban zones; ecosystems and infrastructure; mobile agoras; mobility justice; new practices of sharing) and with designerly analysis of and responses to these. The workshop puts focus on how to imagine ‘that which is not’ aiming to understand how planning, design, and architecture contribute to the creation of ‘Mobile Futures and Imagined Utopias‘.


Fig.1: The Mobile Futures and Imaginary Utopias Operational Framework

The workshop explores the relationship between the PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE. Moreover, it investigates the relationship between PROBABLE, the POSSIBLE, and the PREFERABLE social futures. The key questioning of these utopian futures pivots around the tension between ‘WHAT IF …?’ and ‘WHAT NOW … ?’ questions. The former enabling imagining and opening up utopian re-thinking of multiple possible futures, and the latter closing in on concrete actions, hard choices, and ethical responsibilities. The workshop explores the cross-fields between the MOBILITIES TURN and Urban Design, MOBILE OBJECTS and Industrial Design, and CO-CREATION and Citizen Design.

Inspirational bibliography

Büscher, M., Coulton, P., Hemment, D. & Mogensen, P. H. (2011) Mobile, Experimental, Public. In: Büscher, M. Urry, J. & Witchger, K. (eds.) Mobile Methods. London, Routledge, pp. 119-136.

DiSalvo et al (2014) Making Public Things: How HCI Design Can Express Matters of Concern. CHI 14 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Jensen, O.B. & Lanng, D.B. (2017) Mobilities Design: Urban designs for mobile situations. New York: Routledge, Ch. 3, pp. 42-56.

Jensen, O. B. & M. Freudendal-Pedersen (2012) Utopias of Mobilities, in M. H. Jacobsen & K. Tester (eds.) (2012) Utopia: Social Theory and the Future, Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 197-217.

Urry, J. (2016) What is the Future?, Cambridge: Polity Press.

van Toorn, R. (2007) No More Dreams? The Passion for Reality in Recent Dutch Architecture…and Its Limitations, in Saunders, W.S. (ed.) The New Architectural Pragmatism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 54-74.

Verganti, R. (2017) Overcrowded. Designing Meaningful Products in a World Awash with Ideas. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Workshop Plan

Day 1

9:00 Introduction to the workshop, its aim and the participants [C-MUS]

9:30 Introduction to existing/predicted mobility challenge(s) as well as to stakeholders, who are affected by the challenges/opportunities or who are influencing the them [CeMoRe].

11:00 Field Safari: a tour to visit the present context of the mobility challenge along with the key stakeholders [CeMoRe]

13:00 Lunch

14:00 Lego Serious Play session – with workshop participants and key stakeholders (co-creation). Aim: creating a shared understanding of the challenge, its underlying dilemmas and a project framing/potentials [C-MUS]

18:00 Dinner

Day 2

9:00 Introduction to the concepts of mobile futures and Imagined Utopias

9:30 What-if, What-now session 01: Forced analogies: Aim shared gigamapping of ideas – in three groups

12:00 Lunch

13:00 Evaluation and critical discussion of the gigamaps – in respect to the ‘probable, possible and preferable framework’ – what is the value mission?

14:00 Exemplary dive session. Aim: development of three product or urban design concepts, which catalyse the mobility scenarios. Initiate production of video prototype.

19:00 Dinner – and perhaps further discussions

Day 3

9:00   Production of material: Video prototype + graphics, etc.

12:00 Lunch

13:00 Documentation of the workshop for the exhibition

16:00 Presentation and discussion of the workshop outcome/exhibition to key stakeholders

18:00 Dinner (for all participants, stakeholders and collaborators)


Aug 02 - 04 2017


All Day


Lancaster University