[urban interfaces] research group at Utrecht University

2019 – 2020 Workshop “Designing interfaces for More-Than-Human Cities” 

The 2019-2020 workshop “Designing interfaces for More-Than-Human Cities” unfortunately had to be canceled one day prior, due to the Corona outbreak. Below you can find an overview of the planned workshop:

Workshop “Designing interfaces for More-Than-Human Cities”

A pressure cooker workshop hosted by research group [urban interfaces], the research MA program Media, Art & Performance Studies at Utrecht University, design studio Cream on Chrome and Creative Coding Utrecht – platform for art and digital creativity.

16 & 17 March 2020, 10.00-18.00 | MCW Lab, Kromme Nieuwegracht 20, Utrecht (ground floor, theater room)


In this workshop, students from different programs and academies collaborate on an interdisciplinary urban design assignment. The focus of the workshop is to develop creative designs for interfacing with ‘more-than-human cities’. This deals with the question of how the design, planning and organization of urban co-habitation can take into account the diverse interests, stakes, perspectives and rights of other living organisms and species beside humans. How can we collaborate with other species in shaping public space? What can we learn from insects or birds? How can we imagine urban infrastructures inspired by fungal networks? And in order to be able to answer these questions, how do we create meaningful ‘interfaces’ between people and non-human species?

In this workshop, we will use creative methodologies to “design for debate,” under the guidance of design studio Cream on Chrome and scholars from Utrecht University’s research group [urban interfaces]. Here, design is intended to address contemporary urban challenges and translate more abstract ideas about these issues into a tangible design prototype, in order to develop a speculative scenario for life in Future Cities. With these design prototypes, we do not intend to offer solutions but rather aim to spark the debate about future urban challenges by adopting more-than-human perspectives.

Participants from diverse disciplinary backgrounds take part in the workshop. We expect a productive exchange of perspectives, theories, concepts, skills, and interests. You will become familiar with some relevant theoretical perspectives from the humanities as well as more hands-on perspectives from creative and design-based disciplines. You will be part of an interdisciplinary team, and work collaboratively towards the presentation of your design concept. As an added bonus, the best teams will have the opportunity to showcase their design concept in the student exhibition during the Media Architecture Biennale in November 2020, themed #FuturesImplied, which is closely connected to the design assignment of this workshop.


INTRO (10:00-12:00)

  • Welcome!
  • Introduction of theme, aims, context, and structure of workshop.
  • Introduction of key concepts: ‘interfaces’, ‘multispecies urbanism’.
  • Inspiration from the creative field: showcases.
  • Split up in teams (created by us beforehand).

LUNCH (12:00-13:00)

During lunch, team members will get to know each other and decide on a division of roles (spokesperson, drawing, textual reporting, visual reporting, etc.

PREMISE (13:00-14:15)

Aim: outline team-specific starting points about an interesting urban issue (formulate ‘premise’).

  • By using a card game team will establish a premise: this involves a non-human subject, a human system, and a location.
  • Through a series of guiding questions, teams will dive deeper into their premise and develop an initial grasp of the issue.

SCENARIO WORLD-BUILDING (14:15-15:00, incl. 15min coffee break)

Aim: generating a (visual) scenario based on your premise

  • Through a series or guiding questions, teams start imagining how the premise changes our everyday lives, and the desires and values we might have.
  • Teams will generate a visual representation of this scenario.
  • Every team presents a story about their envisioned world (15:00-15.30 – 2 minutes per team, 1 minute quick feedback)

IMPLICATIONS (15:30-16:00)

Aim: by critically revisiting the scenario envisioned so far, teams fine-tune their story.

  • Through a series of guiding questions, we will revisit step 3.


Aim: making a start and plan for the next day, including sourcing materials.

  • Teams will decide on how they want to communicate their ‘more-than-human’ narrative.
  • Teams begin translating this into design considerations: what object(s), service(s), situation(s) embody this new world view, and how can this be communicated to an audience?


DESIGN PRODUCTION (10:00-14:00, incl. lunch break)

Aim: generating a physical ‘interface’ to communicate the developed scenario.

  • We will kick off day 2 with a short round of team presentations.
  • Check conditions: is there a workable scenario, a clear outcome, enough materials, division of tasks in team?
  • Teams work on making a prototype.
  • Feedback round (13:00 – 14:00)


Aim: produce a tangible outcome that can be shown.

  • Teams incorporate feedback and finalize their design prototype and narrative


Aim: public presentation + feedback

  • Every team presents their results
  • Each presentation will be followed by a group discussion on what this scenario would mean, but also how well their prototype communicated the world they created and what could be improved next time.