PhD project: The network lab

Sissel Olander

This PhD project has deployed co-design approaches to explore future challenges and potentials for libraries and cultural centres in the municipality of Copenhagen. The main focus of the research project has been to establish future-orientated dialogues among employees and citizens in three different neighbourhoods of Copenhagen, in order to investigate and stage new local and concrete possibilities of exchange on the borders of public institution and public space. 

The guiding principle of the project has been to consider libraries and cultural centres as open platforms for cultural exchange rather than service providers to the local community.

The thesis accounts for how, in a network of carefully staged events, co-design tools and methods are employed to investigate new institutional platforms, local political procedures, alternative images of cultural collectives and citizens, and new possible collaborations between institutionalized and non-institutionalized networks.  

The thesis draws on the concept of the co-design lab and points to the Network Lab as a particular platform, which organises and reshuffles both different representational techniques and temporalities into spaces for collaborative proposal making and negotiation among members of a research collective. By focusing on research activities as a network of events, always forged but never fully controlled by the researcher, the thesis explores the critical role of methodology in research. It exposes how co-design tools and methods offer a way into an experimental engagement with the social.