Author: Lee, Yanki
Title: Design participation tactics : involving people in the design of their built environment
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2007
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
Design -- Human factors.
Design -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- China -- Hong Kong -- Case studies
Department: School of Design
Pages: 278 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 22 x 30 cm.
Language: English
Abstract: This thesis documents a process of rethinking user participation in the design of the urban built environment. It investigates options for the roles of architects and designers as generators and facilitators of design processes that enable designing with people. Its aim is to investigate the tactical knowledge of participation in design and explore how architects' and designers' knowledge can be transferred to, shared with and developed together with non-experts. First of all, the theoretical discourse centres on Henri Lefebvre's distinction between the 'abstract space' of designers and experts and the 'concrete space' of people and day-to-day life, in spatial practice. This dialectic model of space was developed as an analytical tool to define, understand and re-appropriate the term 'participation' in the environmental design field. This new Design Participation analytical tool is then further developed to demonstrate two contributions of this design research. The first contribution is through a critical assessment of different practices of Design Participation, as first defined in the 1971 Design Participation Conference in Manchester (UK) organised by the Design Research Society (DRS), to provide a new viewpoint to understand design practices with participation. Different Design Participation practices were assessed for their appropriateness and effectiveness within past and current contexts, and in different stages and tasks within the design process. Practices within the realm of collaboration between the abstract space of designers and the concrete space of users were tested through a comparative study of design participation projects in three social contexts: Sweden, the United Kingdom (London) and Hong Kong, in which different social attitudes to design prevail. A rethought definition and typology of design participation was developed based on relations between the two 'worlds' of experts/designers and users/people. This new understanding of Design Participation is articulated with a new Design Participation Benchmark and Taxonomy. The research endeavours to define Design Participation Tactics that avoid mere 'tokenism' and aims at articulating tactics for a transformation of the traditionally conceived process of design. Through action research methodology, the second contribution of this research is to further define the term 'participation' within the greater social context and its relation to the subject of design by learning through doing. Three levels of Design Participation Tactics were introduced which are working with three newly defined modes of participation: Community, Public and Design Participation. The Design Participation analytical tool was used to compare different practices between different modes of participation. The relevance and validity of the research is supported through real-world cases involving co-designing with grass-roots user groups, children's groups and older users, as well as collaboration with professional designers of housing, exhibitions and other types of environments, and other disciplines such as social work and public policy. The re-writing of the roles of designers, architects and other 'experts' in the design process is an important component in achieving Design Participation. Positions on the agendas, methodologies and epistemologies involved in the Design Participation process were developed during this study. 'Agenda' refers to how the Design Participation process addresses the social context, reflecting social changes and needs. 'Methodology' applies to devising holistic Design Participation processes developed through working with users and matching appropriate tactics to each different situation. 'Epistemology' evokes the important question of how Design Participation tactics can be transferred to become a foundation and tool for future development. The pursuit of increasing user participation in the design process implies a realignment of designers'roles (generator, facilitator and developer) from that of producing objects, environments and systems, to that of facilitating innovative collaboration and creating platforms for social inclusion in design practice.
Access: open access

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