Citizen design science as co-design

Co-design strategies vary according to the context and complexity of the project. Co-design processes are not new – academics have carried out participatory action research (PAR) for many years. Often these studies are about solving a social problem. New versions of co-design are emerging as a means of democratising design decisions. Citizen science is a version of co-design that has its roots in environmental monitoring. This method is now used in urban planning and design.

The transformation of a car park into a multifunctional public space is the subject of a citizen science paper from Turkey. The authors explain the project and how they went about engaging with citizens. The co-design process relies on communication between designers, residents, visitors and the local authority.

An additional outcome of the project was to establish a Citizen Participation Unit within the municipal authority to facilitate citizen coordination.

Graphic depiction of the Citizen Design Science framework.

A key element of successful co-design is finding ways to design with non-designers through every stage of the project. Establishing a common language is essential for understanding the needs and thoughts of all participants.

Local residents provide information and issues about the area to expert designers who then evaluate and document the information. To ensure participation of citizens who are blind or have low vision, 3D and relief formats of design elements were provided. Using roundtable discussions and digital mapping, two conceptual designs were provided to citizens for voting.

Citizen Design Science

Citizen design science is a synthesis of citizen science and design science that uses a bottom-up approach. The authors break down the process into three parts:

  • Citizen science – type of data collected from participation
  • Citizen design – citizens actively design
  • Design science – translation of citizens’ ideas into designs by expert designers

The study showed that people without prior design knowledge are able to work constructively with professional designers.

Four photos here. Top two show three dimensional modeling of concepts. Two bottom photos show people sitting at tables outdoors discussing designs.

The title of the paper is, Co-Design of a Public Space and the Implementation: Atakent (Car) Park. The paper has several illustrations of the project.

From the abstract

Citizen Design Science is a co-design strategy for urban and architectural systems that uses design tools for citizens’ observation, experience, and local knowledge. The strategy improves the planning, design, and management of cities, urban habitats, and architectural structures.

This study is about the transformation of Atakent Car Park Area into a public space using a co-design process. Using design science data, two conceptual urban design projects were prepared. This included 178 local citizens’ wishes, needs, and suggestions about the area. Participating citizens were asked to vote for their preferred project and the selected conceptual design was implemented.

The remarkable aspect of this study is the engagement of a layperson without prior design knowledge in utilizing active design tools to establish a common language with a professional designer. Despite the efficacy of this common language facilitated by the tool, it has inherent limitations.

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