Developing democratic co-design tools: entering the site in Virtual Reality
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Lucy McInally received a BA in Art History from the University of East Anglia in 2017 and moved to Southeast Asia until 2019, working in property development and start-ups in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Her experiences working for inclusive growth deal projects at the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal at the University of Stirling last year have enabled Lucy to focus her interior design work towards intergenerational living and the sustainability of cities. During her year studying a Masters in Interior Design at the Glasgow School of Art, Lucy has explored co-design practice.
Co-design methods engages with stakeholders and listens to the needs of communities to ensure that the results are usable. Involving a facilitator and groups of active participants, the social activities include discussion of ideas and experiences, collaborative experimentation and envisaging conceptual proposals. Due to the egalitarian nature of co-design, each members’ input is valued equally. The success of co-design processes leads the collective group to recognise their contribution in its outputs.
This research project applies co-design methods to interrupt the restrictive conditions at parks, as urban spaces within the interior of cities. Parks have been historically associated with hegemony; typologies of Britain’s parks are “owned” by governing bodies who implement the rules towards how people navigate these “public” spaces. When the Coronavirus pandemic led to a period of national lockdown, many people frequently visited their local park. Meanwhile, some councils in Britain’s impoverished neighbourhoods closed their local park. These systems of control are inequitable towards certain social groups.
Under the conditions of the pandemic, Lucy has developed her own co-design processes by exploring digital tools and physical collaboration with household members using play methods, whilst maintaining a strong personal role for the facilitator. A feminist methodology was applied to this project through a micro investigation of one marginalised group – women – who have been historically excluded from “public” sites and city planning. There is also scope for future workshops to occur with additional intersectional marginalised groups and urban spaces. Lucy hopes to continue developing co-design processes under an enterprise model.