Dasha Spasojevic

Discussions between humans, non-humans and new infrastructure.

PhD candidate

  • Dasha Spasojevic

Supervisors

She would go to her home often to take showers, and she was doing that secretly, not saying anything to her mother in law; she would just tell her that she misses her family and she wants to go to visit them. Dewi told me later that the young wife said: ‘Before you get married, you should ask your husband about his water supply’

field diary excerpt

This research operates at the intersection of three interrelated core problems – informal settlements, water and sanitation management, and meaningful participatory design.

These three are manifested in one of the world’s most wicked problems – that of how to design and deliver health and environmental improvements for the one billion people living in slums today, and how to mitigate this number increasing to 3 billion by 2050. How to do this in a participatory way that meaningfully engages people and the full diversity of non-human actors to address systemic change?

This PhD research has been conceptualised within the framework of the Revitalising Informal Settlement and their Environments (RISE) program. It aims to explore the tensions and contradictions of how a Global North technological innovation can be designed within a complex socio-cultural environment in the Global South.

Conceptualised as a cross-sectional case study, the research explored how a decentralised, water sensitive infrastructure intervention has been designed in six informal settlements in Makassar, Indonesia. This investigation has revealed a set of opportunities and barriers for successful integration of water sensitive urban design and Indonesian informality. Furthermore, it explored the participatory design methodology that emerged across cultures, epistemologies and distances.

The main findings advocate for the role of architects and designers in systemic sustainability challenges, but also for a change in the design epistemology towards socio-technical, both human and non-human worlds.