Valuing Community-Led Design

Alexiou, Katerina; Zamenopoulos, Theodore and Alevizou, Giota (2013). Valuing Community-Led Design. AHRC Discussion Paper.


The ideas and practice of community-led design, participatory design or co-design have a long-standing tradition, especially in the context of urban design, planning and architecture. Community-led design goes beyond the one-dimensional process of consultation, helping involve people in decision-making throughout the design process, from visioning to implementation. There are many benefits from this approach, from improving civic participation and ensuring more democratic outcomes, to creating a strong sense of community and strengthening people’s attachment to their place and to each other, to producing more sustainable solutions.

However, despite this tradition, community-led design is not a mainstream practice. An essential part of this issue is that the benefits of the approach are not thoroughly understood, measured or disseminated.

The project aimed to grapple with this issue, and explore how a better case for community-led design can be made. The objective was to collate, articulate and disseminate evidence about the value of community-led design and bring the relevant stakeholders together to share good practice and form a research agenda for the future.

The project team delivered a series of focus groups and creative workshops with multiple stakeholders. It also created Community Design Exchange a bespoke social network site for sharing stories and showcasing achievements of community-led design.

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