By: Nasim Nejabat
As most of you may know, I am a big supporter of community led design in existing neighbourhoods. There have been many debates and questions towards whether community led design is beneficial or not. I believe that when it comes to urban design, we are dealing with peoples living environment and communities, therefore it is important to give the local people a chance to shape their own environment. ‘’The Glass-House Community-Led design is an independent national charity supporting and promoting public participation and leadership in the design of the built environment. They provide independent advice, training and hands-on support to community groups and organisations, housing associations, developers, local authorities and other stakeholders, to help them work more effectively together to create better quality places and spaces.’’
What are the benefits of community led design?
Local people are the experts of their own community, they bring knowledge of how existing spaces work and what the needs of the community are, this leads to better deign, more informed, and imaginative and sustainable solutions. I have been given a chance to be part of a community led design project to help the locals shape their own neighbourhood. The residents of ’165 estate in Blakelaw’ were given the chance to have their say about what they believe is causing problems and their proposed design solutions for them. The design proposal has really helped the local authority to understand the problems and pin point the best solutions. Due to this collaborative design process the residence has built a stronger relationship with each other and it has also resulted in opening of a youth club. The youth club has led to reduction of anti-social behaviour in the estate.
However some may argue that community and collaborative design may be effective in small scale projects (like designing an estate) but not when it comes to large scale urban design projects. I believe that the input from local people can also be seen as positive and help towards decision making.
Further readings and Refrences
CABE, 2010. Community-led spaces [pdf] London: CABE. Available at: < http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/our-work/cabe/publications-resources/cabe-publications/community-led-spaces/> [Accessed 2 Jan 2014].
Northern Architecture, 2013. - Events underway on the 165 Estate in Blakelaw.[online] available at:< http://www.northernarchitecture.com/community/news/2013/01/10/403-events-underway-on-the-165-estate-in-blakelaw.html> [accessed 16 Jan 2014].
The Glass Houses community-led design, 2014. About Us [Online]. Available at: <http://www.theglasshouse.org.uk/> [Accessed 16 Jan 2014].