top of page

DDRL Webinar Recap : Roundtable | 1   

The Design Development & Research Lab (DDRL) hosted its first round-table on November 8th to the 10th. It was a 3-day event that discussed research in three domains and explored potential overlaps and collaborations with local and international centers and experts. The event fostered a great dialogue between panelists from different parts of the world. The audience tuned in live for the conversations.  


Day 1: November 8th, 2021 Housing and Urban Development  

Day 2: November 9th, 2021 Digital Fabrication  

Day 3: November 10th, 2021 Data Visualization, Technology and Environmental Systems   


Bridging between the DDRL and existing best practices and experiences is the goal of the research lab. We explored some of the priority research areas for the different units and examined catalysts and challenges that connect academia and practice.This first installment of round-table discussions is as much an introduction to the DDRL as a brainstorming session, guided by “curated questions.” The questions are general musings that helped us navigate possible strategies and tools for research, ultimately steering an alternative method of teaching and learning in the design disciplines. One of the overarching questions across the three days examined how the DDRL can be a catalyst for curriculum change and development. It is important to note that the DDRL is situated in an academic institution and the goal of its founders is a pedagogical shift where theory is complemented by real life experiences and practices that can effect change. Another overarching theme is the way in which the DDRL can become part of an existing network of researchers and labs both locally and abroad. Inter and intra academic and design practice silos limit knowledge productivity as well as capacity building and locating ourselves within this field is one of the DDRL goals.  


The event was hosted by the director of DDRL, Asseel Al-Ragam, and moderated by Saud Al-Khaled and Muneerah Al-Rabe.  The first group of panelists addressed these concerns in the first research domain of Housing and Urban Development. Francisco Sanin joined us from Syracuse University. He suggested that to "have community involvement and public participation'' the DDRL should develop as the ultimate hub for research. Continuing the conversation Alexandra Gomes, joining us from LSE Cities, advised that the DDRL should "start a collection of data as it is fundamental in any and all research projects.” There was a general consensus that the DDRL should enter the global dialogue with a local voice in all aspects including curriculum development and data collection.   


The second group of panelists addressed concerns in the second research domain of Digital Fabrication. The conversation of the first day continued with a concentration on digital fabrication. Ammar Kalo from the American University of Sharjah encouraged greater collaboration across different universities and centers in the region and how the DDRL can allow the private sector to use DDRL expertise and facilities to "realize the potential of already existing products when looked at by designers".  The conversation concluded by discussing the potential of DDRL as a great resource for digital fabrication.  


On the third and final day of the webinar, the group of panelists addressed the concerns in the last domain of Data Visualization, Technology and Environmental Systems. The discussion started out addressing new ways to document urban governance through visualization, such as using student projects to map out imagery and using drones.  Omar Nagati from Cluster Cairo talked about the significant absence of Gulf Countries in documenting urban heritage.  Nagati also invited the DDRL to collaborate through an urban tour workshop that would encourage data collection and documentation of urban heritage in Kuwait. This would build information to support comparisons across the region.  


After this first, of hopefully many, thought provoking webinars what is next for DDRL? DDRL will create its first pilot project, reaching out to well-established institutions to collaborate, create workshops, and have more events to promote a global conversation on best practices for design and urban development.  

bottom of page