CCCB, June 27th: Participatory Design Workshop of proposals around City-Labs

Here is the text describing the activity that we organized at CCCB, together with I+C+I (CCCB Lab), on the concept of “the city as a laboratory”. This is a concept that is being developed in different versions around the world. In Barcelona the City Council is promoting the idea of the city as a “Cultural Laboratory” and we wanted to open up a design-centered activity to explore the concept with citizens.

According to our line of work, the idea is to open participation and work together with the participants to develop proposals. We will start online well before the actual event at the CCCB. Feel free to share this invitation with everybody: the important thing is to get diversity. We want experts and non-experts, but mostly people willing to create their own version of a city learning for transformation emerges.



Send an email to explaining what concept of laboratory city you want to work on, some of your previous related experiences  and if there is some specific project that you want to work on.

The metaphor of the city as a laboratory has been well received because it incorporates a component of urban and cultural experimentation. What form will adopt these new “laboratory cities”? What connection do they have with digital culture? Are this cities organic developments or planned projects? How can a city orchestrate its transformation into a laboratory city in an inclusive way? Will be Barcelona a laboratory city? Will it be a network of laboratories or the bets will go again to a large complex of laboratory facilities instead?

10-14h / 16-18h / / “LAB Cities” Workshop. With CoCreating Cultures – La Mandarina de Newton and Laura Forlano.

In this workshop we will work on proposals to articulate the concept of laboratory city. We will follow a collaborative design process that can become the basis for further in-depth development.

Places are limited: register by sending a e-mail to:
Workshop + Debate price: 6 € (when registering you will be informed of the terms of payment). Free for Friends of the CCCB

19-21h / / DEBATE “Citizenship and action in the city laboratory.” Participants: Laura Forlano, Inés Garriga (Department of Creativity and Innovation ICUB) and Antoni Nicolau (Director of IAAC). Moderator: Ramon Sangüesa (UPC and CoCreating Cultures).

A discussion on the role of citizen’s action in the laboratory city. If the city becomes a laboratory: what is going to be researched there? What is an innovation in this perspective? Who is going to do this? And who is going to decide what to do research and innovation on?.

Debate Price: 3 €. Reduced ticket € 2.50, under 25 years and retired. Free for Friends of the CCCB, unemployed  people and teachers of the Generalitat. Tickets may be purchased at Tele-Entrada or at the desk of the CCCB.


Townsend, A. A Planet of Civic Laboratories: The Future of Cities, Information and Inclusion. Institute for the Future-Rockefeller Foundation.

M. Foth, Laura Forlano, Christien Satchell and Martin Gibbs (Eds.) From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen: Urban Informatics, Social Media, Ubiquitous Computing, and Mobile Technology to Support Citizen Engagement. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2011.

On the change of the term “laboratory” and its democratizing potential: Ramon Sangüesa. “La tecnocultura i la Seva democratització: soroll, Límits i Oportunitats dels labs / Technoculture and its Democratization: noise, limits and opportunities of the labs “. Revista d’Etnologia de Catalunya, número 38, 2012.

On the future of the medialabs: VV.AA. The future of the LAB. Baltan Laboratories, 2010.

On the forms of participation and operation of the Technoculture: From Mobile Playgrounds to sweatshop City. Situated Technologies Pamphlet 7: Fall 2010.


From Interaction to Co-Creation

Some days ago we had a long discussion among several members of A+C+C CoCreation about the differences between the various projects that we have been reviewing.

It helped us to ask ourselves about what characterizes the different labels that are being used by several projects and cultural institutions where new forms of relationship with the public are experienced. We also wondered how the public is no longer a passive element and to what extent each institution or project dares to change.

Each one of the used terms has its difficulties and ambiguitie. Certainly each one can evolve on a different scale. But for the time being, the scale of co-creativity that we present helped us in thinking about several projects and cases. Somehow, we have simplified the scale of participation that can be found in “The Participatory Museum“. We tried to introduce our own vision to go a little beyond participation. At least if participation is understood mostly as the promotion of social relations between the members of the communities around a project or a cultural institution. That is, we go a little beyond the concept of contribution, contributory projects and try to see how to characterize co-creation.

So here are some adjectives that we worked with.

Interactive: These are projects and institutions that promote participation in a limited and predefined way. Much of traditional science museums that were created or renovated between the 60s and the 80s fall into this category. Clearly, this was an important step for museums at that time. A paradigmatic example in the field of science is the Exploratorium in San Francisco. In art, the concept of interactivity is perhaps wider, but it could be identified with a tradition of interaction with viewers. We can book this definition for all projects in which the user does not provide content and reacts to the content prepared by others who are not part of the group of viewers/users.

Open: These would include projects or institutions that intend to show their work processes that are needed to prepare their contents or activities. For example, the MOMA in New York is inviting the public to see the “props” of preparing exhibitions. Halfway between the observation and the collection of interests and needs of the audience, the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey has opened a part of the exhibit design process to users, who may participate in meetings of museum professionals. This could be the zero level of participation.

Participatory: The institution or group leading a project invites participation, with great variability of what is required in this participation. Here sometimes it is worth making a distinction between what is “participatory” and what is “contributory” as Nina Simon remarked in her book. Participatory actions can simply consist in giving opinions, However, they can be more than that and eventually affect the decision making process of the project itself (event, exhibition, etc.): these are the ends of the famous scale of participation of Sherry Arnstein. Contribution also evolves from the simple action of minimal interaction, provision of feedback in the form of opinion, to the contribution of content.

An possible example in the participatory category would be the exhibition organized by Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture, CCCB, “La ciutat dels horrors” (“The City of Horrors”) where they asked viewers to contribute with photographs of their town that would show some show some “horrific” aspect of it. We have analized this case and we will discuss it in more detail on a future post.

Another example would be the exhibition organized by Mediamatic in Amsterdam around the concept of travel. Mediamatic developed several cycles of invitation and group curation. They created a website on cities around the world, imitating the typical site of a travel agency informative website. They invited local artists of the different cities to act as “guides” in their own city. Travelers scored the artists according to their proposals as guides. This was the basis for selecting an artist from each city to produce an exhibit about his or her city (which should occupy a space of 2x2x2 m in the final exhibition venue). Finally, the  global exhibition was held at Mediamatic. The process was not designed by the participants but by the institution, that is, Mediamatic. Contribution by each artist was done on an individual, apparently there was no much cooperation between artists working on the exhibit of different towns. The institution acted mostly as a promoter of the initiative and as a content aggregator. It was not clear if there was interaction between artists and the public during the process conducive to the final exhibition other than in the “tourist guide” phase.

Co-Creative: In these processes, it can be difficult to tell who is the “public” and who is the institution or the artistic or scientific leader of the project. At the top of co-creativity, the public creates as much as the institution or there is not institution to speak of (apart from the fact that the relationships between the public conducive to the project are a set of norms that can be understood as a temporary institution). The public helps defining the process, its content and its outcome. It is difficult to find fully co-creative projects either in the field of arts or in science. CoCreative processes have some similarities to the processes of meta-design (or P2P Open Design, for example) in which participants (“co-creators”) decide how the process will proceed and then, they join the project playing various roles at different levels of commitment and responsibility, building and providing knowledge in the process. In the project “From contemplation to participation and beyond,” participants co-created the exhibits, but the design process was defined by the leaders of the project. MediaLab Prado has several open formats in which the objective of the project, its process and the contributions are defined by working with the “public.” In these cases, collective creative dialogue is generated.

Traditional institutions are rethinking where they stand in terms of these categories. There is a wide range of response from those who believe that traditional forms of the museum should remain as they are to those who believe that these institutions, both in science and art, must work in more open spaces and weave co-creative relationships with the “formerly called” public. The question is whether or not each institution wants to evolve towards symbiosis (a concept of the A+C+C CoCreation Contextopedia which we will comment in the future), or explore other possibilities in between.


Credits of photographies:
- Alaskan Dude:
- La Mandarina de Newton S.L. 

A + C + C: one step after another in the culture of co-creation

The workshops organized by Co-Creating Cultures last fall, within the CCCB I+C+i cycle of activities is having other outcomes besides its success in participation.

A group of participants in the workshops thought at the time that something else could be done in promoting a reflection on participation and co-creation. We have come together and start working on stabilizing a project and a group around the concept A + C + C: Art, Science, Culture and Technology in their Catalan and Spanish initials.

We start with an evidence: the total hybridization of the various practice fields from art to technology that is amplified and reinforced by the emergence of new forms of creation and knowledge sharing provided by technology and specifically, the culture that Internet has spawned.

The field is wide and offers room for many actions.

We have focused on co-creation as a present and future space for at the intersection of Art, Science and Culture. Yes, we know that Science is part of our culture in our society, but it seems we still have to refer to the different components in A+C+C. We also want to stress the many possibilities for interaction between all of them.

“Co-creation” is a term used in a restricted sense in the field of user-centered design but A + C + C takes a more broad and open view on it in order to study and promote the process of collaborative creation and everything that connects with it. And there is much that is related to this concept, from new ways of organizing to new forms of production. At this point we need to find influences and concepts and practices of many different initiatives from the Open Source to Design Thinking through the ArtCiencia in order to connect with them and turn them into productive partners of A+C+C.

We have defined our “Contextpedia” to better understand some terms that correspond to these actions and to new possibilities. Some of them are old terms to which we give our precise meaning, others are new inventions. For example: “symbiosis”, “open earning”, “dialogical action” or “knowledge brokers.”

It is a first step in framing the new action reference space.

The first phase of the workplan we have put in place “under the radar” since last fall includes a clarification of the scope of “co-creation”, a collection and case studies of initiatives ranging from interactive to the co-creation through participatory experiences in art, culture, science, technology and design.

We acknowledge the assistance of various individuals and entities that have agreed to share their knowledge through direct interviews. Amasté, Liberty Science Center, CCCB and the Museum of the History of Immigration are some of our patient “observed” people and entities.

Ww will continue interacting with them and with other groups and organizations that, in one way or another,  explore and promote the field of co-creation.


Looking around the world



Press clipping

Working Groups


@CoCreatingCult Tweets

Follow @CoCreatingCult on twitter.