“South African City Futures: Visualising the Futures of our Neighbourhoods” is a project about doing things differently. This project aims to encourage South African cities and their constituent neighbourhoods to start thinking differently about their future. The intention was to implement an innovative project that is part research, part radical co-creation which combines the use of futures thinking, multi-stakeholder dialogue, and multiple forms of visualisation to reflect upon the future of urban neighbourhoods to 2030.
The FutureHood project embarked upon an experimental journey to develop a more creative public pedagogy to envision alternative city futures through the enrolment of citizens at the neighbourhood scale. It sought to bring greater clarity to current thinking and practice by providing participants with a compelling experience of creative futures engagement. Its premise was not to offer forecasts but rather to clarify the importance of understanding and engaging with future probabilities.
The FutureHood workshop methodology is a dynamic articulation of three lenses on the South African neighbourhood: Future Sim (facts, statistics, trend data and maps), Future Form (the built environment and space) and Future Narrative (storylines of contemporary and future life) tested and refined through experimental workshops in five neighbourhoods in the hope that the City Futures project initiative may complement, subvert and extend deeply entrenched current practices.
The first workshop is about sensing place, focused on a neighbourhood walk led by participants to their favourite spaces; which revealed an element of positive surprise and discovery through learning what was meaningful to others.
The second workshop is about speculation or wild ideas around the future recalibrated with some reality constraints, and visualised onto a scale model of the neighbourhood resulting in a set of negotiated final proposals for the future.