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Participatory design methods in the co-production practice of urban space

Lookup NU author(s): Daniel MalloORCiD, Rorie Parsons, Armelle Tardiveau



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a conference proceedings (inc. abstract) published in its final definitive form in 2016. For re-use rights please refer to the publishers terms and conditions.


This paper reports on ESRC Impact Acceleration Account funded work, which seeks to overcome the limitations of mainstream engagement practice by deploying a collaborative approach in the design of urban settings. It highlights a methodological framework based on what we refer to as “inspirational participation”, a method that helps activate dialogue and imagination for the future of urban space through the deployment of “making, telling and enacting” activities. This method is illustrated through a case study involving Newcastle University, Sustrans and local users, as part of the widely-trialled DIY Streets project whose remit is to help local communities to redesign their neighbourhoods and making them more attractive, and conducive to walking and cycling.Co-production at work implied that Newcastle University and Sustrans operated alongside each other engaging local users in a co-design process. The mutual learning that took place revealed complementary aspects of each other’s methods: Newcastle University’s emphasis on ethnographic data collection methods such as observational field notes and unstructured conversations to capture intimate snapshots of users added to Sustrans’ capacity to collect quantitative data and reach a wider community, which helped broaden the public constituency of the project. Co-production involves an iterative process over time for relationship building and also for learning about each other’s respective methods, which enable establishing a new-shared language between partners and users. In the case of the DIY streets project, this process of mutual learning developed into the construction of a temporary public space as well as empowered a group of residents to take ownership of the space beyond the time span of the project.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mallo D, Parsons R, Tardiveau A

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Challenges and Best Practice in Co-Production, University of Sheffield

Year of Conference: 2016

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 02/12/2018