Three Principles Of Participatory Design

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Three Principles Of Participatory Design
Three Principles Of Participatory Design

Video: Three Principles Of Participatory Design

Video: Three Principles Of Participatory Design
Video: Elisa Maceratini - Participatory urban planning: Lessons from the field 2023, May

In its original 2010 English language version, the book was titled Democratic Design: Participation case Studies in Urban & Small Town Environments by University of North Carolina professor and founder of the International Association for Environmental Research and Social Design (EDRA) Henry Sanoff.

In the fall of 2015, a Russian translation of the book was published, published by the architects of Project Group 8 from Vologda, who have themselves followed the principles of participatory design for several years and are actively applying them in practice in their hometown. The author donated the rights to the publication and even personally came to the presentation in Vologda in September last year.

The book contains examples and descriptions of projects implemented according to the participatory design methodology (from the word participate - to participate), from the author's fifty-year practice. The examples clearly show that the involvement of residents, local communities and city activists in the design process can be useful in understanding problems and needs, and joint design decisions can help resolve conflicts. After all, the decisions of investors, architects and urbanists directly affect the lives of citizens, so their participation in choosing their own destiny is logical and even capable, Sanoff says, “to improve the efficiency of the project.

Презентация книги в Вологде © «Проектная группа 8»
Презентация книги в Вологде © «Проектная группа 8»

The book has three sections: "Small towns", "City blocks" and "Designing public institutions". In the small provincial town of Owensboro in Kentucky, the waterfront area was occupied by an old industrial zone, which did not interest the city authorities in the least, which, frankly, is typical for many small towns with relatively small budgets. The activists carried out work “from below”: polls of citizens, research, workshops and discussions - on their basis, a master plan was developed and implemented, the city received an embankment and access to water.

Other examples include the development of Selma, North Carolina, which had a population of just over 6,000 in 2010; renovation of a city block in Mexico; construction of a school in Rio de Janeiro, taking into account the wishes of the townspeople.

An important section is the "Appendix": it presents a toolkit that will allow almost everyone who has read the book to start actively using the described approach in practice. Step-by-step instructions for conducting workshops and design games, an architectural line that allows you to shape the appearance of streets, teaching various methods and strategies - all this will be useful not only for architects, urbanists and city officials, residents interested in the development of the urban environment. The publishers are convinced that the language of the book is simple, clear and accessible to anyone interested in the topic.

By the way, publishers are not too fond of the concept of "participation", which is popular in academic circles, and "participation" is considered a non-existent term, preferring "participatory design", which is included in the title of the book. and which the architects, after rather long deliberation, found the most appropriate for the designation of this field of activity.

Henry Sanoff's book, Collaborative Design. Practices of public participation in shaping the environment of large and small cities "can be bought:

ordering at


on the VKontakte page

on the site

The cost of the book with delivery in Russia - RUB 900

Bonus for our readers who have read this far:

a discount of 100 rubles for everyone with the "" promo code. ***


Nadezhda Snigireva, partner of "Project Group 8"

and one of the initiators of the book's publication:

“As a student at the Vologda Technical University, I faced a catastrophic shortage of specialized literature in Russian. I got acquainted with the works of Henry Sanoff largely thanks to my diploma supervisor Konstantin Kiyanenko, who, being engaged in similar activities, the development of socially oriented design, was friends and kept in touch with Henry. The idea of collaborative design in Russia was then completely new; it was difficult to find the author's books in the public domain. The materials had to be studied in fragments, looking for information on the Internet. But even that was enough for me to immediately go with my proposals to the residents.

Of course, now the situation with the acquisition of English-language publications has become much easier. However, there are still few sources in Russian. A huge number of students still do not have access to information. Therefore, in 2014, when Henry Sanoff visited Russia for the first time, taking part in the international forum "Social Innovations" in Vologda, an initiative arose to publish the Russian-language version of his book. Together with the author, out of thirty books, we chose one of the latest, which contains all the cases, but there is practically no American theory that is incomprehensible to the Russian reader. The original name Democratic Design in the Russian version has been replaced by the co-developed term Collaborative Design. The language of the book is universal, and the proposed tools are applicable in any country. Henry Sanoff has taught at 87 universities around the world. His ideas are very popular not only in the USA, but also in Japan, Singapore, and China.

The book describes specific methods of involving people in certain projects, tested in practice in different countries. The scale of projects is clearly shown - from a small quarter and settlement to a metropolis. But perhaps the most valuable is the toolkit: design games, ready-made workshops on preserving the urban environment, goals and strategies, and group discussions. All this with detailed instructions for implementation. We strived to make the information presented available to everyone. The book was the first step towards the development of common knowledge and terminology in the field of collaborative design."

We asked Nadezhda Snigireva to name three main principles of participatory design and comment on them based on the current Russian practice of Project Group 8. It turned out like this:

1. What is the contribution, such is the impact

Providing an unambiguous link between the contribution that the public makes and the influence on the decision. Communicating to the participants how their contribution to the discussion influenced the final result

Such mechanisms can be implemented in our country by involving people at the earliest stages, even in the process of forming a design program, so that their contribution is reflected in the project even before the development of design solutions begins. It will also be effective to build a cyclical work with the public in order to provide mechanisms for participation throughout the entire process of development, implementation and post-evaluation of the project. Only in a cyclical mode of operation, participants in the joint design process can assess the significance and impact of their own contribution.

If we talk about our own experience, then the peculiarities of our context are clearly visible on small projects. For example, in working with yards there is also an educational task in order to teach residents to independently manage their territory. It is also important to indicate that the contribution and influence on the decision-making process is also responsibility for the state of the territory in the future.

2. Complication for anyone interested

The right to the complicity of all people who are affected by the decision under discussion and to the involvement of all potentially affected or interested in making the decision. Recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants

To implement this mechanism, we need to create new opportunities and formats for the participation of citizens, in order to move away from formal participation, as in the case of public hearings, to real and effective dialogue. Here we are also talking about the formation of a new culture of design and municipal management, which, in addition to all other components of the project, also works with the social side of the issue and allows you to create new tools and institutions that develop the practice of participation of citizens, and as a result - new specialists and the legislative framework. We have a developed opinion that people in cities do not need anything and the area of responsibility for them ends at the threshold of the apartment. Perhaps there is some truth in this, but it is possible and necessary to work with this, including through various educational projects, including in order to get closer to the post-Soviet urban reality.

3. Organization and information

Finding the best form of organizing the participatory design process for participants / stakeholders and providing participants with all the information necessary for qualified and meaningful participation

The participatory planning process can be shaped by a large number of different tools that offer citizens different degrees of "inclusion" in a given project. For example, these are project seminars, focus groups, workshops, excursions, sessions for generating ideas, joint SWOT, formation of wishes and brainstorming, design games, conducting separate project sessions and games with children, etc. Many of these tools are described in the book and have proven their effectiveness in practice in various cities around the world, we also use them in our own projects, and I must say that the toolkit can really be universal for different countries and cultures. The tool should be selected according to the context, scale and duration of the project.

Also, one of the important conditions for organizing participation, in our opinion, is the openness of the process itself and open information about the project, this allows you to exclude manipulation and increase the effectiveness of participation. For example, this affects both the language of presentation of information and the working materials and the principle of visualization of the initial data of the project. Of course, the issue of openness is related to the trust and the content of the intentions of the same architect, but here we again return to the peculiarities of the modern design culture and urban management, to the presence or absence of a desire to create a real dialogue with various participants in urban life. ***

… and a few small snippets of the introductory chapter of the book Collaborative Design

[democracy and collective intelligence]

“… The origins of this approach lie in the concept of“participatory democracy”(or“participatory democracy”), which implies collective and decentralized decision-making in all areas of public life. It is assumed that the mechanisms of participatory democracy will allow all members of society to acquire the skills of participation in public life and to influence in various and effective ways in the adoption of all decisions that concern them.

Currently, participatory design is used in urban design, urban planning, geodata collection, as well as in the field of industrial and information technology. More recently, collective intelligence has been identified as a contributing factor in part to the success of participatory solutions (Fischer et al., 2005). Atley (2003) describes collective intelligence as a collective insight that is formed during group interaction and in most cases leads to better and more original solutions than the solutions proposed by individual participants. In those cases when people combine their intellectual efforts to solve a common problem (instead of suppressing each other's initiatives to maintain their own status), they are more capable of "producing" collective intelligence.

[from Plato]

References to citizen participation in collective decision-making can be traced back to Plato's State (Plato & Grube, 1992). Plato's concepts of freedom of speech, assembly, the right to vote, and equal representation have evolved over the centuries and have become fundamental to the United States; many historians support the opinion that an active position in making socially significant decisions has always been characteristic of Americans. Billington (1974) argues that freedom and decision-making in the early years of the American frontier was fundamental to the formation of grass roots democracy, that is, the realization of people's right to participate. As the population of border villages grew, it became more difficult for citizens to directly participate in all collective decision-making; to preserve the decision-making process, residents began to delegate decision-making to representatives. Thus, a system of general election of officials gradually took shape, supported by the growth of volunteer associations and voluntary associations (de Tocqueville, 1959).

[complicity for understanding]

Despite the different social norms in different cultures, the participatory approach promotes a better understanding of the complex relationships between various environmental factors and the explanation of everyday situations, the features of which are too obvious to be noticed.

[leftism and complicity]

Development programs in many developing countries have focused on cooperative and communitarian forms of social and economic organization and built on the values of self-help and self-sufficiency (Worsley, 1967), advocating the idea of mobilizing the poorest and oppressed social groups to fight for social and economic progress. Modern participatory theories suggest that political leaders and bureaucrats have exploited ordinary people and excluded them from the process of community development. Proponents of these theories are now included in international organizations such as the UN, WHO and UNICEF. The concept of community involvement as an approach to the development of society as a whole "grew" from the United Nations program on public participation, which stated its goal of creating conditions for everyone to have the opportunity to participate in political processes and receive their share of the benefits of development. " ***

Из книги Генри Саноффа «Соучаствующее проектирование» © «Проектная группа 8»
Из книги Генри Саноффа «Соучаствующее проектирование» © «Проектная группа 8»

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