8. Episode: Justice through Urban Design with Shin Koseki

Shin Koseki.

Join us, as we discuss how designing our urban environment can influence (social) justice and everyday democracy. In this episode we talk to Shin Koseki, an urban designer, who explains why it is important to pay attention to the design of our public spaces when discussing (social) justice. We also focus on the design of the courthouses and find out about the Darth Vader Family Courthouse in New York.

According to Shin, we have to begin to understand that we are the environment. The most influential factor to human behavior is not buildings or places, it is the other people. Urban planning and urban design can work on this by providing a form of contact or interaction with other humans. However, the urban environment around us can affect how us humans behave. We might think that there are “bad neighborhoods” but is it just bad design? Is it possible to make people obedient to law through urban design?

We also talk about the particular design of the spaces of justice, especially courthouses. Why do courthouses always look either pompous or boring? What would bring good feng shui to a courtroom? In the era of digitalization it seems that we are shifting more and more to communicating online and physical spaces of human contact are becoming less necessary. What if instead of massive court buildings we have smaller, movable  “pop-up courts” or  other more diverse and functionable courtrooms closer to the people? Or does it make sense that there is one particular place for disputing,  just like the court stones in some Scandinavian countries up until the 17th century?

Shin Koseki is an urban designer, policy-maker, coder, and co-founder of Paris-based urban planning cooperative and think tank Chôros. He is UNESCO Chair Professor in Urban Landscape at the University of Montreal.

At the intersection of research and practice, his work centers on spatial justice and sustainability in and outside cities, the integration of digital methods in urban design approaches to resilience, and the inclusion of citizens’ worldview in design and legislation processes. His engagements thus builds on the relationship between aspirations, affordances and capabilities in the production of space and questions design’s contribution to values. In this framework, he develops methods and actions that address injustice, carelessness, inequity and polarization among individuals, groups, communities, regions and countries.

Shin has carried his research and teaching at both Swiss Federal Institute of Technologies (EPFL and ETH Zurich), the University of Oxford (Oxon.), the National University of Singapore (NUS), the University of Zurich (UZH), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Zurich (UZH) and the Max-Planck Institute for the History of Art and Architecture (Bibliotheca Hertziana).