Urban Citizenship

Participatory architectural research and design as instrument of urban citizenship


Through participatory processes of research and design, the discourse of architecture is extended beyond the realm of architect-as-expert towards the dynamic collaboration of human-centred spatial agency. Immersive ways of engagement enable deepened understanding of user needs and contextual variables, to expand the empathic horizon of the designer to internalise different perspectives and worldviews. The dynamic expression of space, informed by ritual, inhabitation patterns, interpersonal networked relationships, and the appropriation of space, becomes the focus over static architectural proposals. Fluid and temporal conditions of living inform design interventions that are often small in scale, yet big in their impact on the lives of a variety of communities. The scale spectrum implies a concern beyond individual interest alone towards an intentional engagement with the public consciousness of the collective. In this way, co-design as a process is embraced as an instrument of urban citizenship, responsive to the complex emergence of African Urbanism.

Published by Heléna Smit

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