How might you start your own co-design project?
Written by Agata Nowak, a researcher in Co-design Your Place.
If you are interested in realising your own social regeneration project, it is highly important to draft the scope of the project and understand what your starting point is.
You can start by discussing questions such as:
What is the current (AS IS) state of the place/context of my interest?
What is my current understanding of the problem I want to research and discuss within the community?
What are my current resources (in terms of people, knowledge, tools, network of contacts and portfolio of other projects, time and budget)?
By doing this, you will describe a necessary understanding of what to research in terms of regeneration and what you should know and learn to move on with this process. Most importantly though, you will have a clear map of your current possibilities and assets.
At this point, your project’s scope can and most definitely will be a bit unrealistic. Nonetheless, defining what your inspirational aspiration is will move you slowly, step by step, to better understanding the real social problems related to the context and envisioning possible solutions, testing them and experimenting within the co-design sessions.
Your initial status as organisers of a potential regeneration project can be very different, depending on so many variables. To simplify it drastically, we have created a basic matrix based on two key aspects:
people and place. To remember it better and have some fun with it, we can call it a PP factor.
PP factor describes what the status is at the beginning of the project. To help to visualise it graphically, you can map ideas and answers to the following questions:
Do I have a context (place, urban space, local community) in mind that I would like to work with that could benefit from a co-design regeneration project?
Do I have people who want to be involved in social innovation activities related to regeneration?
You can use a simple tool, such as the one below.
These two axes present four possible states with the edge cases on the top (including a range of possibilities/shades in between). For
your planning session, you can divide them into more detailed, better-described scales or use mind maps — it is up to you; this is just a visual
simplification of an idea.
There are already people who could participate as students / young designers in the learning program, and you have access to the place and/or community that would be involved in the foreseen regeneration process. In the ideal scenario, you have participants who are already linked to the place as a community and external participants who want to join.
There is an eager group of students, but you do not yet have a partner for your project, a community and/or a place to implement a design learning program.
There is an accessible, community-shared place where you would like to undertake a social revitalisation process, but you do not yet have people who could take part in such a project.
No People-No Place...Yet
You want to learn, try out the co-design process and raise important social revitalisation issues, but you do not have a specific place to begin with, nor defined people who could join the process. In such a
scenario, you could work on defining potential project requirements, looking into your local community’s needs, setting up a partnership… or you could begin the conversation on revitalisation and design in the non-physical, virtual space.