We had the good fortune of connecting with Basil Schaban-Maurer and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Basil, we’d love to hear about a book that’s had an impact on you.
If I would point out a single book that influenced the trajectory of my academic research and scientific inquiry, it is Bent Flyvbjerg’s work “Making Social Science Matter: Why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again.” It was introduced to me in the very first class of my Urban Planning and Public Policy PhD Program at the University of Texas at Arlington. The author ended the book with a challenge to social and applied scientists, including architects and urban planners, to re-examine the issues facing our current era through the lens of practical wisdom (Aristotle’s Phronesis) and apply it in a new way to 21st century challenges in political science, urban planning, health sciences, environmental and socioeconomic realities . I took up that challenge in my dissertation focus and subsequent research in academia and the profession which involved doctoral and post-doctoral work in both the United States and Canada. It culminated in the publication of my doctoral manuscript by McGill University and the resource book ‘Rise of the Citizen Practitioner’. It also lead to founding ‘Ark Tectonics’ an architecture and urban planning firm , which applies my doctoral research to the two fields along with the L.E.N.E. methodology that I developed earlier.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I currently serve as the director of the Urban Science Institute; an urban policy Think Tank, as well as, a principal of ARK Tectonics; an architecture, urban design and planning firm, with presence in both, the US and Canada. I hold a PhD from McGill University in Canada, a Master of Science from Denmark, a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Master of City and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Arlington. I have practised professionally, as an architect, urban designer and planner in a variety of contexts and scales. I’ve had the opportunity to work with multi-disciplinary design professionals and a diverse public, creatively and progressively, extending the quality and role of architecture, urban design and planning in addressing social, environmental, ethical and economic issues. The Phronesis-based approach that I created and applied to citizen engagement in architecture, urban design and planning policy and case study research, utilizes the self-narrative of the citizen practitioner (every-day agenda-less citizen) as a relevant and effective means of transmitting local knowledge. It is an empowering approach validating the local place knowledge of voiceless citizens by empowering them and increasing their credibility as local place knowledge experts. While the implementation of this approach faced many challenges over the years, it is slowly becoming recognized and adopted by North American municipal governments and non-profit organizations in their daily practices. It also garnered recognition from Wikipedia, which cited me as a leading global pioneer of Open Source Architecture, in relation to my work in Public-Interest Design and the Citizen-Centered Architecture design movement, both of which involve a multitude of firms and organizations worldwide, including my own. The goal of which is to advance and promote the engagement and active inclusion of users of architecture and ordinary citizens, specifically those living in disadvantaged communities, along with architects, in urban policy-making decisions and in participatory design projects.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take us to the Arts District in Dallas, Greenville street restaurants and bars, the parks and hiking trails in Richardson, Plano and Frisco, as well as the trails around White Rock and Joe Pool Lakes. Then visit the Stockyards in Fort Worth along with its restaurants, and on to the museum district and the Fort Worth zoo. A visit to some of the local suburban cities like Keller and South lake, The formula race track in Alliance and Los Colinas in Irving.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family and friends’ support was and continues to be, first and foremost. I’m also indebted to the advice and friendship of the late professor Andrej Pinno and Professor Ard Anjomani, of the University of Texas at Arlington.

Other: http://www.earthnomad.org http://www.earthnomad.com https://www.uta.edu/enews/email/alumni/2017/1-16-18/web.html https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Citizen-Practitioner-Phronesis-Based-Engagement/dp/3639704525; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_architecture https://escholarship.mcgill.ca/concern/theses/6q182p566

Image Credits
Copyright 2020 Basil Schaban-Maurer | ARK Tectonics | www.Earthnomad.net. All rights reserved.

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