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  • Writer's pictureCecilia Wandiga

Kenya Sustainable Cities - Fixing Corrupt Systems

Design is a form of planning that drives simultaneous action on future state and current state. Both the future state goal and the current state activities have to be fused in order for good designs to be functional. 

Let us imagine a community in which everyone has agreed to pristine fresh water. In a traditional planning approach, there would be meetings and discussions and schematics and a document that tells everyone the parameters and guidelines of the desired future state. BUT, what are the parameters and guidelines for current activities? 

With design you have to do both. The Autodesk Fusion tutorial is talking about mechanical parts but let us explore how the same concept applies across life sectors. 

The planning documents showed there were a lot of illegal buildings and roads that have diverted the normal flow of rivers into the lakes just like they are finding many overlapping joints in the diagram. If we leave the illegal parts there will never be a good flow to the rivers so we must remove them and acknowledge this creates a wound (financial, emotional, physical). The wound has to be healed so we focus current discussions on how to fuse the activities that were in the illegal buildings and roads into a space where they do not cause damage to the overall piece (freshwater in the community). 

By the way, when you hear about biohacking and gene editing in biotechnology, this is the objective: remove a problem part or a part that is underperforming genetically and replace it with a better part. The concept applies to our genes, our thoughts, our behaviours, our social norms, our eating habits, our industrial habits, our planning and corrective response habits....

Another fundamental principle of good design is recognizing that there are always interconnected parts and functions in any system. Sooo, even if a system looks small, you address the smaller components that have the most problems by studying the subcomponent as a separate entity. Then you reconnect the subcomponent back into the larger piece. 

In our fresh water example, we study the subcomponent of illegal construction and road building. We learn all issues identified can be traced back to a faulty permitting system so we study how to remove the problem parts of the permitting system, we acknowledge removing these parts causes a wound (financial, emotional, physical), we identify ways in which the remaining parts of the system can be fused together so we are left with the just the good parts then we begin the healing process of implementing and sustaining the good permitting system. 

We attempt the same when we talk about biofusion. We are looking for good design standards and principles that enable us to create healthy blends of social needs, technological innovations and natural ecosystems. We don't just think about fresh water as something we drink, we think about the minerals and microbes that make fresh water healthy and describe them as building blocks (BioBricks) that lay the foundation for healthy systems inside our bodies. We think about how the systems outside our bodies need to fuse with the BioBricks inside our bodies so that a healthy balance is sustainable.

Most importantly, good design is an iterative process. We do not design once, heal everything and walk away thinking that the system will sustain itself. We watch the production process and the implementation process. We catch any little aspect that does not match the good design standards. We analyze to see why we are still having defects despite all the fixes we made. We repeat the corrective actions so that we can continuously improve the design. 

Because all of this may at first seem rather abstract and theoretical, enjoy this 12 minute video that shows a step by step approach to corrective design. While you are watching, think about problems and issues that you complain about all the time.  

Instead of complaining, how would you use corrective design to fix wounds and create healing in ways that fuse the things you enjoy and want more of? 

Watch "Fixing corrupt models with Wound & Heal" on YouTube

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