Dark Basin


MDIT intensive exploring ideas, design, urban information & technology with Carlo Ratti and City of Melbourne

MDIT Workshop Intensive March 17-28, RMIT Design Hub
Studio Coordinator: Greg More



Cities are constantly changing, and with them, so does our understanding. One dramatic change over recent decades, and clearly into the future, is the impact of computing & software on how our physical cities are managed, navigated and experienced by millions of people each day. In this studio we are interested in making visible this change, and shedding light on the dark matter of city information. How will new forms of information, information sharing (Open Data), social networks etc, change the nature of how we interact in the city? And how can cultural & technological behaviors be used to inform strategic design approaches to a site in the heart of Melbourne city?

It’s as if someone took Minority Report as a shopping catalogue or a punch list
rather than a vision of dystopia…
Adam Greenfield, Against the smart city

This studio positions itself between utopia and dystopia, between the dream of the smart city and filmmakers ill visions of the city of tomorrow. How can design inform tangible future directions for our city spaces? Or more importantly, how can designers design ideas that have impact beyond those of established design disciplines? As much as Kickstarter (kickstarter.com) enables projects from smart watches to urban interventions, from the seed of an idea to a project realisation, it also enables ideas to be supported independent of discipline bias. It is this form of transdisciplinary design we want to pursue.


Dark Basin presentations, Panel members: Jane Burry, Carlo Ratti, Jodi Newcombe, Matt Willcox, Greg More, RMIT Design Hub

We are honoured to have Carlo Ratti of MIT Media Lab (senseable.mit.edu) as a guest of the workshop during the weeks of the intensive: a pioneer in combining design, technology with an urban focus. We have also developed the studio project with members of the City of Melbourne – City Design and City Lab – to give context to the project, and to ultimately enable the ideas from the studio to have a future beyond the scope of the workshop. Collectivity we all work on projects that address a site in Melbourne: Melbourne’s Turning Basin, a historically significant site on the Yarra River, and its surrounding urban spaces.

One of the main aims of this studio is to enable a research-through-design approach: including idea development, design prototyping and design presentations as a means to test ideas pertaining to information of and within our urban environments. This integrates process, design thinking, ideas generation and representation framed by concepts of creativity, innovation, prototyping, representation and reflection. Let’s fail, fail fast, and fail often.

During the MDIT intensive we are focusing on how ideas and informational design prototypes can be developed concurrently: researching ideas through design. For this to be achieved the intensive is designed to facilitate idea iteration: learning processes that enable ideas to be directed, changed, and prototyped. By the end of the intensive we want design propositions that present an idea in response to a city issue, the project site, and how this idea has been developed and tested through prototyping.

Carlo Ratti – Presentations / Workshop
Rob Adams – Presentation (City of Melbourne)
Jodi Newcombe – Presentation & Carbon Arts
Dean Stewart – Aboriginal Tours And Education Melbourne (A-TAEM)
Matt Willcox – City Lab workshop (City of Melbourne)


Selected Readings

Hill, Dan, Dark Matter and Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary

Greenfield, Adam, Against the smart city (The city is here for you to use)
Berkun, Scott, The Myths of Innovation

Hyde, Rory, Future Practice: Conversations from the Edge of Architecture

Nussbaum, Bruce, Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire



SIAL Twitter account: @RMITSIAL
Course Hashtag: #SIALMDIT
Studio Hashtag: #DARKBASIN

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