Design Team of Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment, Robert Gordon University (Collaborator 1); Robert Gordon College (Client & Collaborator 2); Fiona Thaddeus (Design by Research); and Dr. Quazi Zaman (Project Coordinator)
Greening Campus: A Collaborative Design with Children
Robert Gordon College
Greening Campus: A Collaborative Design with Children
Greening Campus: A Collaborative Design with Children
The Greening Campus is a collaborative design project reinforcing educational initiatives, involving primary and secondary school children through ethnographic design process coordinated by Scott Sutherland School of Architecture students. The collaborative design process used ‘ethnographic’ method documenting children’s ideas, language, aspirations, visions, interpretations and collaborations with the help of STITCHING URBAN VISIONS (SUV) tool based on theoretical strands and research on ‘children and city’ to determine how children visualize and interpret ‘place making’ attributes. This helps designing children’s place making for educational environment. The project uses ideology derived from the seminal work of Kevin Lynch’s ‘Growing up in Cities’ theory.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Problem addressed: Learning environment in school has unique ‘placemaking’ attributes that could be visualized and interpreted by children being user and client. This usually gets neglected by the professional intervention of design notions devoid of any aspirations of children. Professionals often keep ‘participatory’ design process off their design thinking process; and community engagement methods become a matter of theoretical norms. Taking this issue to a bigger scale in city level, most often professionals fail to underpin the community visions and requirements away from the professional agenda mostly due to the overpowering economic and professional objectives. Context of the Project: ‘Greening Campus’ is a small version of how community engagement could be drafted through ethnographic process by documenting observational data; and thereby designing a socially responsive educational space, while excelling ‘sustainable’ objectives. Challenges posed: Children, as future stakeholders and fundamental social unit of ‘sustainable community’, possess a clear vision for future cities and wellbeing that is difficult to translate into design attributes. This is due to the fact that professionals find difficult to use appropriate methods to understand the language of children to set visions into reality encapsulating a collective aspirations and memories of what children construct and desire for their environment and urban conditions. SUV is a state-of-art method used by Help.KIDS outreach program of Scott Sutherland students, by challenging the fragmented nature of ethnographic observation of children and youth; and by striving to stitch together to generate a coherent picture and meaningful vision for a sustainable educational space.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Point of View: Urban Development is a collective task that requires a collective vision by stitching together the fragmented aspirations of individuals through public engagement and collaborative design tools. Additional Criteria: A. ‘Stitching Urban Vision (SUV)’ helps to bridge the gap that exists between children (future stake holders) and professionals to generate a sustainable and place responsive design solution. B. Collaborative tool in community engagement: It is prudent that collaborators must be able to stitch fragmented visions to create an agreeable proposal powerful enough to represent the wider community, while documenting aspirations for future generation. SUV helps negotiation and agreement on any issues of common interest. C. Children as Future Stakeholders: Collaborative ideology was injected into the mind of children by shaping and repositioning their mind-set to engage into a critical discussion of place making with a degree of confidence and responsibility yet having a sense of belongingness with the project. D. Peer Group brainstorming: three types of methods were employed by three different groups constituted by architecture students (18 years and above) in collaboration with children (7 to 16 years). This partnership created a condition for knowledge exchange through educational initiatives. E. Five Steps Design Process: 1) Setting ‘vision’ by children; 2) translating vision into reality; 3) generating reality into three options; and 4) reflective thinking process of how they have learned and evaluated their own problem; and 5) selection of desired option by children through collective consensus and using attributes in ‘vision’ as measurable and non-measurable criteria.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
Remit of the Design Process: a) Research: Research that stems from Kevin Lynch’s ‘Growing up in Cities’ ideology anchors into the fundamental educational environment where children play, learn and grown with confidence. Theoretical strands of ‘city & children’ inform the future stakeholders, ‘children’, as the potential decision makers of the sustainable future. ‘Place making’, by children and for children, becomes pure, honest, flexible, versatile, delightful, encouraging, and healthy. b) Ethnography: SUV (Stitching Urban Vision) is an observational tool to capture fragmented ideas and aspirations into an agreeable collective vision. This went through observing; listening; capturing; collating; validating; and self-reflecting ideas by children. SUV is a powerful tool for negotiation established by ‘Help.KIDS’ actions, that believes to have an universal application. It has been postulated that if SUV becomes a part of education tools, then pragmatically children should be able to grow and become a responsible citizens. The central theme of SUV ethnography appeals to any decision makers and urban managers use to its powerful and constructive nature. Urban development requires to have such tool in any decision making process. c) Subject matter experts: The project believes all participants being experts in their own pursuit. Children have intuitive visionary expertise; while architecture students attained professional expertise; and tutors offer theoretical knowledge and skills for a collaborative community engagement process. By engaging all these three parties, this project has established a common believe and agenda for ‘sustainable’ place-making approach. d) Material Explored: The project has explored theoretical strands of i) cognitive domain (dependent variables: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis & evaluation); ii) affective domain (independent variables: receive, respond, value, conceptualize value & characterize value); and iii) qualitative attributes (built environment variable: outdoor space, furniture, light, green, etc) to determine the learning environment and testing these through ‘greening campus’ project. e) Technology and Interactive Tools: the project involved – i) slide show; ii) voice and video recording; iii) hands on drawing tools – sketches, post it, models. These are believed to be powerful both being tactile and visual. f) Stakeholders Interest: there are 2 stakeholders: i) children and user (potential stakeholders); ii) investors – Host College and other entrepreneurs (financier). These two stakeholders underpinned the notion of a society and sustainability. These two stakeholders worked closely within a collaborative tool in order to reach an agreement that is flexible, powerful, sustainable, engaging, cost-effective and responsive. g) Educational Initiatives: In conclusion, summing up all the remits, the core objective of this design project is to reinforce and reposition the learning methods and socio-cultural awareness embedded into sustainable community. This stands out as iconic educational initiatives within the primary and secondary education, in response to the curriculum for excellence framework.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Value Judgment a) Sustainable Development Ideology: The sustainable definition refers to the future generations. The greening campus is an example of ‘children’ as stakeholders and how they could decide their own space of learning for future use. This reinforces the idea of sustainability amongst children to get prepared for the future. b) Regeneration Value: Urban development is for generations to use; thus, require regeneration process through collaborative approach to sustain the value and extending its use. c) Social Impact: Ethnographic method ‘SUV’ has the intention of empowering society with the ability to think, reflect and set visions of their own future. d) Educational Impact: SUV teaches students of architecture a collaborative process useful for pedagogy and praxis. Children in turn understand the power of collaboration and negotiation. Tutors build various theoretical strands encapsulating the notion of ‘sustainability and community’, thus successfully exercise state-of-art educational initiative. e) Economic Impact and sustainability: SUC allows stakeholders to determine cost-effective design option, using intelligent approaches yet making collective decisions on materials, design ambition, formulating manifestos that best suit the given budget and sustainable framework. f) Paradigm Shift: Discipline of design and ethnography together should yield a pragmatic design solution for a community. g) Cultural Reinforcement: culture of collectiveness of a society has been reinforced through this project. h) Gladden Aspect: SUV – an interactive tool stands out as a state-of-art design process. i) Community Engagement: Greening Campus used community engagement process extensively. j) Confidence Building: SUV created confidence within children being an educational tool.6. Did the context of your project change throughout its development? If so, how did your understanding of the project change?
A. Philosophy of Design Brief a) Community Engagement Briefs: The philosophy of connecting society with the decision maker is the central to the responsive city while maintaining sustainable objectives. This philosophy reinforces the nature of collaborative decision making being the backbone of any collective benefits within the public realm. Community at large becomes the key stakeholder of any architectural, urban design and planning decisions as they are the recipient of any design outcome. Sustainable ideology is rooted to any actions we take and ‘Help.KIDS and its activities, such as, ‘Greening Campus’ sets an example of the process of implementing this ideology. b) Participatory Briefs: Ethnographic process (SUV) takes the design process to an intellectual level by bridging the gap that exists within the fragmented visions of a community. B. Research Methodologies: Research for Greening Campus uses i) reinterpreting theoretical framework of ‘city and children’ into design objectives; ii) using ethnographic method ‘SUV’ to instigate process of collating ideas and visions; and using urban design techniques to synthesize a range of design attributes associated with ‘greening campus’. C. Tools: Greening Campus uses a range of i) Participatory tool; ii) community engagement methods; iii) show and tell method; iv) DIY design option setting; v) SUV collaborative tool; vi) focused discussion method; v) identification and vi) dissemination method on site. D. Process Outcomes: The process of using methods and tools indicated in A, B & C has generated a collective vision of ‘place making’ attributes and design solutions for multiple age group.7. How will your project remain economically and operationally sustainable in the long term?
Educational Initiative: In the current Scottish primary and secondary teaching system of the curriculum for excellence there is a strong emphasis within the programme to develop pupils as ‘active citizens’ through the engagement and involvement with matters affecting their well-being. There are ways in which this can be implemented into the learning environment; however the participatory process of ‘Greening Campus’ provides a potential real-life project that allows for their visions and aspirations to be physically realised. The process encourages engagement with the university students and other adults, as it is through the imagination and creativity of the pupils that it flourishes allowing them to see that their opinions matter. The interaction of the pupils with the built environment and their desire to make it ‘Green’ can be used extensively for not only current, however future pupils of the school as well as in urban development as a whole. The environment in which we live is a learning tool in itself, and the promotion of children within these spaces can only benefit their overall learning experience and build their confidence as individuals in the city realm. The project allows for children to be visible in the city, it helps to build resiliency as a collective whole, and reduces vulnerability within the community. It helps anchor the notion of children as future stakeholders of our cities and makes communities more aware of their beneficial impact as citizens.
The hands on approach of this methodology is great and the level of peer to peer dialogue, decisions making and listening skills are really strong. We acknowledge that this is a very important area of research and would like to see how a greater and more holistic understanding of impact on the cities you work in!
We feel that this project has more potential than we understood from the Q&A. Please contact the winner of this award and learn how they have developed a similar concept over time.