Ephemeral University


An Ephemeral University, a nursery of idealists!

In 2018, we had the pleasure of creating an Ephemeral University in collaboration with Promising and the Magasin des Horizons in Grenoble. The goal was to create an unprecedented collaboration between 100 students and 12 professors, all from five different universities; ENSAG, ESAD, IUGA, IAE and Sciences-Po Grenoble. Ralston Bau and Eric Fache built the program around Transformative Design and Design Thinking.

For two days, ten multidisciplinary groups, facilitated by their teachers, designed idealist scenarios (and a dystopian) inspired by their own context and that of the Magasin des Horizons, host of the event. All approached the complexity of their worlds to outline their needs and essential solutions, with a human approach. The students expressed a sincere desire for solutions to the problems in their immediate environment. Skills needed for sustainable post-growing society are at their reach. This gives us confidence in a generation of professionals who will contextualise and provide solutions to any company wanting to be a player in this transition.

In October 2018, November 2019 et February 2020 a hundred students from Design, Art, Science, Urban Planning and Innovation Management joined at Le MAGASIN des Horizons in Grenoble for several days of creation in cross-disciplinary groups.

Supervised by their teachers as well as two associated designers from the Magasin des Horizons - Birgitta Ralston & Alexandre Bau - students will have two days to question the ethical and political dimension of design. They will have to build together a critical idea and produce a common in the form of a manifesto.

This ephemeral university is an unprecedented opportunity to work on a common project of students from various schools and backgrounds. The goal is to implement collective design methodologies to establish a critical point of view on design. It will be build and co-build a critical idea through a deliverable that could be called a manifesto, to experience a critical co-construction, using the building and group creativity methodologies developed and proven at Promising.

This ephemeral university, organised by Promising and the Magasin des Horizons, was built with Grenoble National School of Architecture (ENSAG), Grenoble-Valence School of Art and Design (ESAD), Grenoble IAE, the Institute of Urbanism and Alpine Geography, Sciences Po Grenoble.

Ephemeral scenarios 2019 & 2020

Ephemeral University theme: Design & Transition(s) :
protest as a driver of innovation. From October 21 to 23, 2019, more than 80 students from Design, Sciences, Urban Planning and Innovation Management wondered what they are contesting today thanks to a “critical design” approach . Supervised by the designers and associated researchers, the students had three days to formalise their disputes with a scripted "manifesto" which gave rise to a theatrical interpretation.

What does the Ephemeral University of Design look like?
The ephemeral university of design took place over three days, articulated around several workshops (production, debates) augmented by resources, conferences which came to feed the students with Geoffrey Dorne, designer, two guest professors from the 'University of Monterrey, an Open forum where each of the facilitators talk about an experience or achievement that can be part of a proposal for a response to an initial challenge, the involvement of bodies with improvisational actors for play the scenarios they imagined.

"I expect these three days from the students that they can appropriate the action of protest, from a very personal point of view - what annoys them, irritates them and how to challenge , in what form, violent, non-violent, systematic, digital, in the street, at the level of the city, of the family. There are a thousand and one ways to contest and I expect to be surprised, to be saddened by their form of protest to get me out of my habits, my daily life. That it can wake me up "Geoffrey Dorne

Thus, the students, who left as a group, challenged the criteria for access to the territory, individualism, the hyper connection of individuals, the fact that the planet was not taken into account in our choices or even prejudices ...

"The advantage of the format is that it creates space-time so that at a given moment students, who are invested with new societal questions, grasp it in an interdisciplinary way and take the time to reflect on an objective which is not a solutionist but rather an objective of putting in perspective critical of the problems which they meet today and which they will meet throughout their professional and personal life. " Sylvia Frédériksson, designer, researcher

An original educational module
The ephemeral university implements a complex approach to questions through design that gives the experience of a critical co-construction by using some of the group creativity methods developed and tested by Promising. It is an unprecedented opportunity to make students from university and various schools work on a common project, to confront them with the other disciplines that they will come into contact with in the world of work in order to “more easily” tackle the complexity of the problems that 'they will meet.

"For me it is important to live things rather than to learn them by theory. It is the dream to experience things in group, to think for myself of the possible possibilities of answers to the problems which are posed to me The university should offer us a lot more projects like this "Frida, M1 Management of Innovation, Grenoble IAE

"I think that the initiative to combine different disciplines makes the experience wonderful. We learn things, to look higher, to do theater, to design, it's huge, we should do this more often "Nedja, student at ENSAG, DPEA Design.

Ephemeral scenarios 2018

A bracelet to communicate

"We noticed that there was very little interaction between individuals in the public space, so we chose to focus on this issue. There are invisible barriers that exist between people, including the barrier of judgment. People are afraid of the judgment of others. There is also a barrier to initiative, people are often afraid to disturb others. Finally, we noticed a cultural barrier, for example between an Asian population and a Lebanese population, it was noticed that the Lebanese were much more inclined to come to talk with people they did not know, whereas the Asians really put a distance between individuals. So that's why today we try to find, to propose a solution: a symbolic bracelet that indicates that you want to communicate with others. It's a simple gesture, a simple object that indicates that you want to interact with other people. The purpose of this bracelet is really to create social bond and to make people want to exchange with each other. It's a trigger, a breaking point that allows you to get closer "

Create a link

"What we found was that there was reluctance on the part of people to go home at night without using the car. We therefore thought of re-energizing the city, creating social ties, which is also part of environmental issues since we wanted to promote the use of cycling, walking and public transport. We thought about the use of artistic murals, and why not other ways: fluorescent flora in the parks or even other means, through events to promote this project, like a festival every year why not. The goal was also to recreate the link between neighbourhoods, between people and reduce inequalities too. "

Overcome it

"We started from the realisation that in urban areas, people were very open-minded about a lot of things: culture and a lot of things around them, but we found that there was very little links with what is right next: they are unable to have links with their neighbours for example. So we tried to find a way to bring together, to gather people who live next door and we had the idea to reuse the "palliate" which is for the moment a space of passage, a place a little empty which n does not really make sense to make it a place that can have an interest, that can be the object of some activity and show all the possible and imaginable activities that there can be on a level: a library, a place to grow flowers, a game room etc. "

Eat Better

"We started from the premise that to eat better, it was not only what is on our plate, it is also the quality of the meal, how to" sanctify "the meal. We therefore assumed that when we eat alone, we eat much less well than when we eat together. We started on a way to gather people around a meal so that we are invested in what we prepare and the products we use. We wanted to work on "eating well", what is good eating. That's why this truck idea was born, this association that goes into the neighbourhoods and tries to bring people together. Firstly via a website, which offers menus and a date: when people agree, they gather all the ingredients, find a place and make an appointment. And there, people can cook together the good products selected by the association (local products, bio or recovery). Cook all together: there is also this transmission of know-how, recipes and enjoy a meal to meet people. The objective is also to instigate this social link, these meetings and potentially once the truck leaves, the inhabitants will be able to continue to organise meals, to meet again, for those who will have forged links. "

Urban Interstices

"Our advancement is to reconsider the interstices of cities, these abandoned spaces and transform these spaces with a small lawn but that we do not see spaces where we can glean food, so grow plants that do not require not a lot of maintenance but that allow to feed and to pick. The opportunity for this gathering is to offer people to be a little more citizen by taking care of these spaces, to have resources and to take the reflex to take them but also to leave them for the others. We also did a work on toponymy that enhances the uses and presence of biodiversity in the city: changing the names of streets to highlight the fact that it exists and that it lacks visibility. "

Security and Public Space

"During these two days, we tried to think about the feeling of insecurity that people can feel in the public space and the lack of trust of people towards each other. So we tried to find the points of convergence in the different needs of users to be able to exchange knowledge and create confidence so that people stop being afraid that everything is ransacked and to be able to reinforce their creativity by this bias. Then, we realised that to avoid this feeling of insecurity, the sustainable way is to build together. The goal is to bring together all the generations, all the cultures and all the ages around a place or an urban furniture which would make them aware and would allow an exchange of knowledge to feel more and more concerned and for that to last in the weather. "


"So we did not invent anything to change the world, instead we put a
"Alert" by talking about moments of community gathering that can form around the question of a neighbourhood identity for example, in neighbourhoods that are changing. The message we wanted to convey is to say that creating a community, sharing exchanges to try to bring something better to the neighbourhood is a great step, but you have to ask real questions who are: Who is riding this community? Why do they ride it? How do they mount it? Several scenarios have been explored that raise the question of "if there is someone who arrives with very strong ideas and will impose them on others, if there are well-meaning designers who come with a project and who impose it on the inhabitants for example, how can it happen? How can it be perceived? And the question of the appropriation of exchange and knowledge devices for neighbourhood change.

Redo company

"We did not think about a solution. Instead, we thought about: what is the real problem? So we spent more time looking for the problem than finding a solution first, so we worked on "all alone but all together" and so on what to do again society. So we worked on individualism and how to recreate common ground between people to recreate a society. "


"We decided to work on the issue of common spaces and abandoned spaces in buildings and to ensure that condominiums re-appropriate this space and make programming and be themselves vectors of their own activity for There is more community, better knowledge of neighbours, and more sharing and solidarity in neighbourhoods. And then it multiplies and it gets involved to all neighbourhoods, all types of cities and all formats for it to happen good. "

A digital application to secure women

"We started from the observation that there was insecurity in the cities and that women in particular felt uncomfortable when they returned from the evening or when they took public transport for example and that was often due to men's attitudes in fact. So we imagined something totally dystopian where in the future, everyone would have a microship and women would use an application to trace men via parameters such as age, origin, blood alcohol level etc. . and could set the type of men they do not want to meet in the urban landscape and so thanks to this application, check in real time where the men who are disturbing them and when they are moving, they are advancing in the street freely and it is the men who receive notifications to tell them to change sidewalks or to move because the women circulate and do not wish to be bothered by these people. This changes the usual pattern in which it is women who, basically, try to dodge men, try not to wear shorts at night, to go out in band etc. To find a whole lot of strategies to not end up in difficult situations. Here it would be totally the opposite, it is the men who should make efforts and change to improve the situation, the living conditions of women on the street. "


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