BCC.20.009 – Alternative Cultural Tomorrows (ACT): Pro-Resilience Strategies for Designing the City’s Virtual Public Spaces

Route: Between conflict and cooperation

Cluster question: 110 How do the old and new media influence individuals and society?

The project of ACT revisits the role of new media designers in positively influencing cultural co-existence in ways that foster societal resilience. The project specifically explores the required theoretical and practical ingredients to create technology-led strategies and tools that ‘educate’ the public on rethinking conflict, not as a barrier, but rather as a fuel for generating cross-cultural solidarity. ACT focuses on the confluence of experiential learning, seen as an everyday arena where ethical values and mutual trust can be taught through proactive doing, and the public space of highly diverse cities which is rapidly evolving into a hybrid virtual-urban arena for cultural exchange and political discourse. Social media platforms are not merely hosting, but also educating their users; the ways platforms are designed dictate certain (harmful) behaviors while hindering others. Before mass adoption, platforms still lack the integration of democratic strategies, which can adaptively harness the conflicts arising among diverse cultures instead of leaving them to generate detrimental frictions and polarizations. With growing alarm, phenomena such as filter-bubbles and echo-chambers in online conversations are amplifying existing cultural divides. In order to face these challenges, ACT proposes three interconnected research actions to support new media designers in creating virtual environments, which enhance the capacity of diverse citizens to experientially deal with their inter-conflicts: (1) ACT adopts the theory of ‘agonistic pluralism’ which reframes conflict as a productive aspect of human nature, seen as the seed for emerging identities and cultural evolution; (2) the project will collaborate with developers of digital platforms in order to co-design an experiential VR game, which integrates agonistic pluralism into structures that can host collective reasoning; and (3) the project’s team will deduce democratic strategies for enabling the emergence of alternative ways to embody cross-cultural solidarity.


Conflict, cross-cultural solidarity, democracy, experiential learning, public space, Societal resilience, virtual reality

Other organisations

Technische Universiteit Delft (TUD), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


Organisation University of Groningen (RUG)
Name Mohamed Saleh, MSc
E-mail mohamed.saleh@rug.nl
Website https://www.linkedin.com/in/m-saleh-spatial-futuring/