The IFC Cluster considers several work hypotheses:

Various factors (economic, cultural and technological) are converging to create a context favorable to the development of initiatives based on the capabilities of local people and their willingness and capacity to collaborate and create new social networks.

It is possible to identify a set of informal initiatives – mostly informal services, already organized by communities, to solve everyday life problems, which testify the power and potential of their local social fabric and interpersonal interactions. These informal initiatives are, usually, invisible and not recognizable.

It is possible to promote (or rather co-promote) an evolutionary trajectory that will gradually transform local informal initiatives into collaborative services. By this we mean services in which the quality of life is sought after and achieved through collaboration between the local inhabitants themselves and between them and the external agents mentioned before (institutions, associations, enterprise and experts).

It is possible that the outcome of this trajectory may be positive not only for the communities that generated them, but also for the wider city whose “formal settlements” are suffering from increasingly serious crises and problems that are becoming harder and harder to manage within existing cultural and economic models).

One fundamental step towards collaborative services is to use existing social networks, with both the opportunities they offer and their limits, to create a new generation of collaborative services that are able to solve specific, concrete problems of everyday life, but which are also able to help existing networks evolve into new entities that are more open, flexible and transparent.

To achieve this result the role of resident community is vital. However, so is that of the external agents. The latter have the dual task of feeding social conversation with visions and proposals while at the same time creating favorable conditions in the surrounding context, i.e. a cultural, regulatory, economic and technological environment able to foster the start up of new initiatives and facilitate their lasting over time and their propagation.

Design (both as a mixture of design culture and practices and as a community of experts) can contribute proactively to the transformation of informal initiatives in formal ones, more specifically, to the co-designing of collaborative services and favorable environments.

Design schools, their teaching staff, researchers and students, can use their skills, energy and enthusiasm to operate as effective agents of change. To do so they must devise adequate conceptual and operative tools and, more specifically, appropriate modes of intervention.