Unmute is a biannual print magazine that aims at curating content around contemporary architectural discourse of its time. Each publication is curated around a theme, discussed in a public forum as a part of FNC (Friday Night Conversations). Self published by Compartment S4, Unmute invites creators from various backgrounds to submit articles, essays, photo stories, illustrations etc. expressing ideas, observations or thought constructs in relation to a pre-decided theme.
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Songs Of Participation
As design professionals, understanding people, communities and their idiosyncrasies is pivotal when designing for a large number of stakeholders and when the impact of intervention has the potential for a larger repercussion in the community. Designers develop their own ways of understanding and interpreting context. ‘Participation’ is a design tool, which when explored, acts as a means of bridging gaps and rendering a more nuanced relevance to the process as well as its outcome. Participation opens up a range of avenues of negotiating with the context beyond built outcomes. The designer eventually diversifies her/his role to include other modes of engagement that can make the design richer. As one begins to inquire like an anthropologist, raise their voice like an activist and envision systems like a planner, they realise the impact it can create on the design and the way it is perceived and received by people.
Various ways of employing participation as a design tool, lead to varied outcomes of intervention. The mere act of building along with the intent of a prolonged participation with stakeholders, can reinforce a multi-faceted development. Participation as a design tool, has the ability to impact at the small scale of designing a detail as well as at the larger scale of strategic planning and development.
Is there a possibility for a building project to then extend, to engage the people in long-term skill development initiatives? Can a project result in a sense of community awareness to reinforce and conserve cultural identity? Can a systemic approach towards the development of a context, define a public intervention?
Processes, stories, data, skill, activism - all form a part of participation and lend to the approach in an integrated manner. With this Issue of Unmute, we aim to explore the many ways of practicing participatory design and the various meanings it attaches to the intervention. Compartment S4 invites various thinkers to ruminate, collect, document and present these methods or experiences in forms of photostories, illustrations, essays and the likes, to recognise various associations individuals attach to the practice of ‘participatory design’.