Being part in planning and building projects
In the search for the best design solution the young designers need to explore (and test) a wide range of forms, materials and design solutions by site visits, sketching and model making.
In real planning and building projects the kids may also have to understand the values and interests of others (neighbours, politicians,..) and learn about ownership, building codes and land use regulations. And last but not least, if children and young people participate in the building process they may also have to learn certain building skills (bricklaying, carpenter work, …).
In my experience – being part in planning and building projects with children and young people – professional architects and planners, decision makers in politics and administration as well as developers profit from young designers and can learn from them: Children and young people come up with new uses for forgotten spaces, they are up to experimenting and building unusual spaces. The direct involvement in the definition of their physical environment leads to more expertise and creativity, to an increased sense of social and spatial responsibility and more informed and reflective judgements by the children and young people. Being part in a design process helps kids to forms a stronger and more knowledgeable voice when it comes to formulate their spatial needs.
At the end there is one important prerequisite to name when it comes to participatory design: It’s not about talking or writing, it is about MAKING and FUN - from the first sketch to the last nail.
Dr. Angela Uttke, Urban Designer, Germany
Photo by JAS Jugend Architektur Stadt e.V.