Co-Visioning Urban Futures | Speculative Fiction | Systems Strategy
Rapid Prototyper | AR/VR/XR | UI/UX | AI | Strategic Foresight
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PLANNAR: Co-Visioning with AR

Plannar is a mobile AR approach to cultivating a generative urbanism, specifically mobilizing long-term residents of Chinatown, Los Angeles to participate in the visioning of their neighborhood through the placement and “hearting” of literal and symbolic virtual objects around the neighborhood.

This project arises from my discontent with community engagement strategies typically used in master planning, where conventional visioning methods entail brief workshops with only a few residents and use their participation as a proxy for consensus. In contrast, Plannar facilitates the generation of many site-and time-specific visions for the future, asserting bottom-up model of urban planning. Rather than ask residents to show up at a workshop, Plannar leverages what residents are already doing--walking around and using social media. In so doing, I propose that virtual space is new territory for meaningful public participation.


The platform’s playful and resonant AR object language expresses cultural values and preferences through the use of emoji’s, symbolic objects, or ‘literal’ virtual objects. Residents collectively create and evaluate and a shared set of neighborhood visions through weekly “Play Walks.”

During a week of generative urban play, residents can:

  1. View objects from multiple perspectives (not just literal vantage points, but others’ perspectives)
  2. Live with the objects over time and notice their simulated changes in context (i.e. a tree that grows or shifts with season)
  3. Learn the cultural significance of objects requested by different groups in the community
  4. Form new social connections, whether creating relationships with strangers over a shared idea, concern, or simply being silly and imagining these futures with others in them
  5. Be informed of the visioning discussion by reviewing weekly recaps, going back in time to see top highlights like most placed objects, most “liked” visions, resident feedback or requests for objects


There’s a difference in the set of actions that residents, visitors and commuters can perform on the platform. While anyone can view visioning activity on a map and in the different locations in the neighborhood, only residents are allowed to “heart” or “dislike” visions, giving them power to have final say in what objects are featured in the next round of “Play Walks.” This feature prevents passive participation or astroturfing and enables ideologies and preferences of long-term residents to be integrated in the system before those of newer residents’, thereby slowing down the ways in which technology colonizes the urban environment.  

With greater adherence of AR as a common language among residents coupled with greater technological progress in the AR cloud and spatial mapping, Plannar proposes that these objects-as-preferred-visions be used as data points to inform urban development policy recommendations, creating counter blueprints to today’s mixed use development trends and foreground the local imagination and ways of knowing.

@Pasadena Convention Center

^ Magical moment


Having joined Chinatown Sustainability Dialogue Group’s Community Outreach team, we will be using PLANNAR along with other workshops to gather community input on an alternative community plan. PLANNAR’s UX will be adapted to indoor constraints that are common at these outreach community meetings.


First Meeting: 

5/08/19 - Chinatown Community for Equitable Development 

An AR version of virtual pins representing items in the community plan drafted by Chinatown Sustainability Dialogue Group was used as an ice breaker activity to engage members of CCED in a short 10-minute visioning activity during their bi-weekly meeting.

I facilitated this short activity and asked members to for the first five minutes, talk amongst their group and pin down at least 5 items in certain parts of the Chinatown map, and ultimately photograph their creations. I made sure to design an activity where everyone was engaged--while one person pinned and photographed, the rest looked and pointed on the map where to place it. During this activity, I walked to each group and demonstrated how to place the pins, while also playing a looping video tutorial of how to use the app on the powerpoint slide.

Maps created by the two groups

For the second part of the activity, I asked them to put ‘ipads down’ and write on post-it notes elements they thought were missing and place the post-it notes in the allotted “Additional” area adjacent to the map. I asked them to hold on to the post-it’s during the remainder of our presentation in case they thought of something else. Later on in the presentation, we asked them to report back on what they pinned and wrote down. 

The additional post-it notes will be turned into icons that will be added to the growing pin inventory and brought to the next outreach meeting.

Stay Tuned...