Rethinking Design Competitions to Promote Urban Development - A Comparative Analysis - A case study of contemporary international design competitions in Finland and China

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School of Engineering | Doctoral thesis (monograph) | Defence date: 2016-11-11
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Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 162/2016
International design competitions have a long history with demonstrated importance to our urban environment. In the current era of globalization, it is of greater importance to understand better how international design competitions evolve, how various stakeholders are engaged in a coordinated fashion, and how the resulting knowledge is elevated, transformed and applied in a global perspective.  Rooted on four case studies and one action research study, the dissertation aims to analyze how the international design competitions facilitate the transfer of design knowledge between various professional groups, especially between established designers and young practitioners. The study starts with a systematic comparative analysis of interna-tional design competitions: case 1 and case 2 from Finland and China, respectively. The particular focus is on illustrating/conceptualizing the knowledge flow of design competitions and thus identifying the key factors governing the knowledge flow process. Therefore, the concepts of 'trading zone' (TZ) and 'boundary object' (BO) are employed to reveal how the expertise is integrated with respect to different local infra-structures.  The case 3 and case 4 extend the study to elaborate the knowledge transfer process among multidisciplinary groups. The role of an international design competition as a 'designed trading zone' is found in-creasingly important in our urban environment and it undoubtedly improves the exchange of knowledge on sustainable urban development. However, the knowledge flow interacts intensively with local coordination in terms of system, institution and professions. In this regard, the TZ and BO analysis was carried out to reveal, analyze and compare how this local coordination varies between Finland and China.  The comparative analysis and summary of the findings provide insights for rethinking the potential roles of design competitions in facilitating design knowledge flow. The action research is introduced at this phase for examining the acquired findings from the previous case studies. As a conclusion, the 'designed trading zone' with enriched and balanced inter-language is critical to facilitate the knowledge flow of internation-al design competitions.
Supervising professor
Mäntysalo, Raine, Prof., Aalto University, Department of Built Environment, Finland
Design competitions, trading zone, boundary object, design knowledge
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