Shin Alexandre Koseki
PhD, MArch


Shin Alexandre Koseki

Designing with Citizens’ Aspirations, Affordances & Capabilities

I am an urban designer, policy-maker, coder, and co-founder of Paris-based urban planning cooperative Chôros.

At the intersection of research and practice, my work centers on spatial justice and sustainability in and outside cities, computational urban design approaches to resilience and the integration of citizens’ participation in design and legislation. My engagements address the relationship between aspirations, affordances and capabilities in the production of space and question design contribution to the production of values. In this framework, I develop methodologies and actions that address injustice, carelessness, inequity and polarization among individuals, groups, communities, regions and countries.

Urban space results from a collective-making process that takes place at every scale, from the body to the world. Still, many designers and policy-makers operate with segmented, disembodied and functional imperatives, ignoring the diversity of aspirations, affordances and capabilities provided by citizens. In 2016, I co-founded Chôros to help communities, officials and businesses to take on complex social, political and ecological challenges. Together, we work on improving structural and infrastructural spatial planning responses to foster justice and sustainability in built and social environments. Chôros’s current projects include a redefinition the EU Common Policy on Agriculture with the French National Commission for Public Debate, the design of planning and constitutional guidelines to reduce green gas emissions with the French Council for Economic, Social and Environmental Planning, the planning of secondary school locations in metropolitan France with the Ministry of Education, and the redesign of logistic and service infrastructure of the French National Postal Service.

Previously, I have also worked on planning the development of Canton of Geneva and its transnational metropolitan area, made design proposals to improve the quality and accessibility of public spaces in Lausanne, and created a nationwide design and legal strategy to make Canadian waterways more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. Since 2018, I am engaged in a series of actions to increase participatory engagement in governing artificial intelligence for sustainable urban systems. My personal background directly channels my understanding of contentious social contexts and power my motivation to create good living for all citizens. Having successfully collaborated or led dozens of high-quality citizen-centric design projects, I was nationally recognized by Swiss media in 2016 for my work on the effect of urbanization on community polarization and then again in 2017 with a national award from the Swiss Cartographic Society.

My scientific work focuses on the diffusion of knowledge, ideas and value in urban social networks. I develop computational methods based on social network analysis to assess how urban contexts and spatial configuration foster social, political and moral innovation. My previous research experience includes investigating political polarization at EPFL, ETH Zurich and the MIT, comparing the evolution of social and moral values across societies at the University of Oxford, and assessing individual mobility and latency in relation to friendships and family in Geneva and Singapore and the National University of Singapore. Through this research, I hone design strategies that increase cooperation and collaboration between individuals, organizations and institutions, reduce risks of social conflicts and decrease polarization while maintaining socially, ecologically and materially diverse milieux.

I currently serve on the IEEE AI Synergy Committee and the EPFL Habitat Research Center Executive Committee. Since 2018, I am a Co-Chair of the Swiss-based digital cooperative Data Think!, and act as scientific coordinator of the Center for Digital Humanities. I was Visiting Professor at the University of Montreal School of Planning and Design and guest lecturer at EPFL, UNIL and ETH Zurich. I am co-founder and editor of Contour Journal for Research in Architecture and Urban Planning and treasurer of the Swiss Association for Research in Architecture and Urban Planning. I had residencies at the Festival TransAmérique in Montreal, Rome Museum for Contemporary Art, the European contemporary artistic actions Center in Strasbourg and the Villa Medici—French Academy in Rome. I hold a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Montreal and a Master of Architecture degree with distinction from EPFL where I received the Arditi Foundation Medal for Best Thesis Project in Architecture.