Care and Repair through Intimacy: A Live Lab Approach in the Garden City

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Josymar Rodríguez Alfonzo
Liesbeth Huybrechts


Participatory Design (PD) is increasingly interested in the repair process, motivated by the curiosity to articulate a more caring and relational attitude toward our socioecological environment. However, placing ‘repair’ centrally in PD is difficult, since the latter has been traditionally focused on ‘making together’ and less on repairing what was once made, or even ‘unmake’. While repair is part of our continuous activities (repairing clothes, bikes, marriages, and relationships), it is often a painful and challenging endeavor. Repair entails hope but also grief. This article discusses how we used a Live Lab to explore more intimate design approaches, opening pathways to explore plural relations and access embodied and emotional knowledge. Finally, based on our research experience in a garden city, we reflect upon how acting within an intimacy framework contributes to PD’s repair process, by bringing socioecological entanglements to the agenda of citizens.


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How to Cite
Rodríguez Alfonzo, J., Roosen, B., & Huybrechts, L. (2024). Care and Repair through Intimacy: A Live Lab Approach in the Garden City. Diseña, (24), Article.4.
Original articles
Author Biographies

Josymar Rodríguez Alfonzo, UHasselt

Ph.D. candidate, Hasselt University. She is working on spatial transformation and participatory design in the Spatial Capacity Building research group at the Faculty of Architecture and Art, Hasselt University. Activist and architect, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Universidad Simón Bolívar, and a master’s degree in Architecture specializing in spatial justice from the University of Oregon (as a Fulbright Scholarship recipient). She is a founding director of Incursiones, a laboratory striving to transform the city’s shared spaces and dynamics through projects that expand the range and quality of interactions between the environment and its inhabitants. Her projects vary from temporary installations to small-scale infrastructure in self-built settlements, exhibition design, and education.

Barbara Roosen, UHasselt

Postdoctoral researcher at the Spatial Capacity Building research group at the Faculty of Architecture and Art, Hasselt University. Her research focuses on the critical agency of mapping and imaging in spatial design processes. In her Ph.D. thesis, she investigated ‘critical atlassing’ as a dialectical design approach to mapping and dialogues. She obtained a MA in Architecture at Sint-Lucas School of Architecture and Arts, and a MA in Human Settlements at KU Leuven. Her most recent publications include ‘Thinging with the Past: Co-Designing a Slow Road Network by Mediating between the Historical Landscape and the Design Space’ (co-authored with M. Zuljevic and L. Huybrechts; CoDesign, Vol. 19, Issue 3) and ‘Dialectical Design Dialogues: Insights from the Production of an Atlas in a Flemish Residential Neighborhood’ (co-authored with O. Devisch and L. Huybrechts; Journal of Urban Planning, Vol. 5, Issue 4).

Liesbeth Huybrechts, UHasselt

Associate Professor at Hasselt University, working in participatory design and spatial transformation processes in the research group Arck, and Head of the Research Faculty of Architecture and Arts. She earned a Ph.D. and a Postgraduate degree in Cultural Studies, and a master’s in Communication Sciences, all from KU Leuven. Her research focuses on the design for/with participatory exchanges and processes of building capacity between humans and the material/natural environment, and the ‘politics’ of designing these relations. She is the editor-in-chief of CoDesign and part of the second Handbook of Participatory Design editorial committee (Routledge). Some of her most recent publications include Re-framing the Politics of Design (co-edited with O. Devisch and V. Tassinari; Public Space, 2022); and ‘Beyond Polarisation: Reimagining Communities through the Imperfect Act of Ontologizing’ (co-authored with O. Devisch and V. Tassinari; CoDesign, Vol. 18, Issue 1).


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