Workspace experiments: a journey on planning participatory design

Carolina Souza da Conceição, Ole Broberg

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Summative Statement: This paper presents a resource material in planning and performing participatory workspace design processes. This material brings up design dialogues into focus and gives insights on how to stage them, bridging the gap of merging user involvement with the well-defined design work-practice. Problem statement: There is a widespread interest in implementing user involvement in major building and construction projects. Nevertheless, it is also often difficult to translate the contributions from users to workspace design that seriously take on board the employees’ specific work practices as a platform for a desired change. There is a need of tool that manages to travel into a well-defined design work-practice and merge with it. Research Objective: We developed a resource material to merge user involvement within current designers’ practices when designing new workspaces. The aim was to test how a participatory prototyping process can help developing such a material aimed at architects and other participants on workspace design projects. Methodology: We developed the resource material through a participatory “prototyping process”, that is through a mutual learning process taking place in a cooperative design setting. The material was gradually built during a research project, including three workshops emphasizing joint exploration by architects, consulting engineers and health & safety consultants. This method was used because we could discuss, explore, and try out various aspects of the new resource material with its prototypes and thus mediate communication among the different participants of the process, content and format being gradually developed through participation. Results: The result was a flexible resource material for designers as a tool to help building a participatory process specifically for each project. The material consists of a toolbox containing: 1) three booklets, 2) “playing” cards, 3) a game board, and 4) a leaflet explaining the main process the tool aims at bringing participants through. The booklets are the core of the toolbox and they aim at giving ideas and inspiration on methods and activities that can be part of the participatory process. The cards and the game board aim at making the use of the resource material a participatory and interactive activity in itself. The leaflet provides some guidance the participatory planning. Discussion: As we see it, the resource material was well accepted during a training section and some participants were happy they in fact used the time during the session to solve some planning issues for their projects. The material became an asset that streamlined the planning of a participatory process while putting the key themes within user involvement and workspace design on the agenda. It still has room for improvements, but it is a good starting to introduce participatory methods into the design practices and to facilitate the planning for such activities. Conclusions: The task of involving users in design processes is not easy and it can be a challenge to merge these activities. The resource material helps staging the interventions and activities and preparing the materials to be used. On a long term, we see the resource material as an open source, where new methods and inspiring ideas can always be added.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication48th Annual Conference of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists & 12th International Symposium on Human Factors in Organizational Design and Management
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event12th International Symposium on Human Factors in Organizational Design and Management - Banff, Canada
Duration: 31 Jul 20173 Aug 2017


Conference12th International Symposium on Human Factors in Organizational Design and Management
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