Designing with Children

Children's roles *

Advocates for change

Advocates for change recognise a lack of opportunities and settings for particular kinds of behaviour and activity and catalyse change accordingly. Focusing on the needs, priorities and aspirations of children and young people, they work first to identify and represent these (e.g. through research), second to make them visible, understood and valued (e.g. through campaigns, lobbying etc.) and third to catalyse positive action (e.g. through securing resource and support of relevant individuals/authorities/companies).

Builders

Builders have a hands-on role in making at least a part of the new space/place that has been designed.

Clients

The client (usually a group) decides what appears in the design brief and provides critique on the developing designs with the capacity to decide what stays and what goes. This critique is based on the design brief and on any other experience or information considered by the client to be relevant (e.g. provided by expert consultants, creative inspirers, trailblazers or from personal development activities and experiences). The client also potentially decides who will be appointed as the design team through a suitable appointment process.

Co-Designers

(Co-)designers make decisions about the design of the physical space/place being created through a process of representing that space/place.

Creative Inspirers

Creative inspirers envision, imagine and propose qualities of space and place and the activities therein, developing and communicating these using a variety of creative media (e.g. stories, models, drama, collages, drawings, film etc.) These aspirational outputs become a source of inspiration for the design team who might use these to develop the design brief or to directly inspire the qualities and content of the spaces being designed.

Expert Consultants

Expert consultants are a source of information and data about their own experience, or that of a wider group of children. This information, which might take the form of direct feedback on an experience of a place, or a report on gathered views and opinions of a wider group of children and their preferences, for example, can be used as a resource (a) by the client group to develop the brief and inform critique of design proposals, or (b) the design team to inform the developing design proposals and detailed design and specification process, even extending into the construction phase.

Placemakers

Placemakers make physical changes to the space that they already inhabit, to meet their changing needs and aspirations. This act of changing space therefore embodies an evaluation of what works and what doesn’t and critique of prior experience of that place.

Trailblazers

Trailblazers develop and create a prototype of something that is envisioned for the new space (e.g. the physical space itself, equipment or furniture in the space, a system for space-use etc.) and try it out (often with a much wider group) to see what can be learned and how this might inform the design. The findings of this experiment can directly inform the brief or developing design. The process itself might also change user attitudes or develop capacities for future space-use.

* The term “children” includes people under the age of 18 (following the UN definition)

Design Stages*

Brief

The stage of identifying project objectives and constraints for the project. May include assessing existing site information, judging feasibility; assembling project team, establishing relationships and design responsibilities.

Concept

The ‘concept’ phase includes outlining proposals for structural design; perhaps a preliminary cost plan; appraising factors relating to the environment, energy, ecology or access, for example. Initial ideas may at this stage get transferred into drawings, sketches, models or other visual representations

Design development

This stage includes developing initial proposals for structural design, services systems, landscape design, cost plan strategy, planning application preparation, sustainability assessment etc.

Technical design

This stage includes agreeing upon and specifying detailed information of all architectural, structural, mechanical and services information in considerable detail. In this phase, specialist subcontractors are appointed. Building regulations are prepared and submitted.

Construction

The stage of building, creating and/or installing – offsite and/or onsite. Review of progress and negotiation with any tenderers and contractors involved.

In-use

The building or design will be in use and users provide feedback to designers, often through a Post Occupancy Evaluation.

* Based on the RIBA plan of work

Design Concepts

Co-design

In co-design processes, the users take an active, hands-on role in the design of the major spaces, working directly and collaboratively with the design team to develop designs.

Collaboration

Designers and users working together with the aim to create jointly a space or place.

Communication

The exchange process of thoughts, ideas, messages and information. This includes non-verbal communication through behaviour or writing, for example, thus also signifying the interpersonal rapport established between individuals or groups.

Consultation

A structured process enabling different parties to express their views on a proposal or specific aspects of it. It denotes commitment on the part of the organising body to take on board participants’ views and provide feedback.

Creative dialogue

An exchange rooted in respect for the other party, which is ultimately driven by the goal of creating something (in this case, a space or place).

Creative process

The intellectual and experimentation stages in designing and producing something worthwhile, original and imaginative.

Design process

Design is here seen as a situated social process, rather than purely instrumental. Included in this definition is any stage of this process where there is still opportunity to shape/alter the intended output.

Empowerment

It is here seen as the outcome of the participation, co-creative process between designers and children in terms of children’s increased sense of influence and potential for initiating change.

Involvement

An overall term for children being included in all decision making that takes place during a design process. This can be at any level of the design process.

Knowledge

The learning, awareness and familiarity when it comes to understanding how spaces and places work and people’s needs in using these (there are different types of knowledge e.g. user/lay, expert/professional, tacit/implicit).

Motivation

The rationale for initiating a co-design project with designer-child collaboration (e.g. rights-based, educational, user-led, political/empowerment, creative enhancement)

Outcomes

The consequences, impact or follow-up from a design process (e.g. learning, empowerment)

Outputs

The end product or creation as a result of a design process (e.g. 3D model, exhibition, building, drawing)

Participation

The process of involving individuals or groups (in this case children) in decision making and different phases during a design project. The term denotes some form of active involvement in the project through increased levels of autonomy.

Transformation

A learning and change process that requires critical reflection. Transformation may result in change of the spatial environment and its use (e.g. building new spaces, appropriation of space) and/or change of ethos (e.g. subversion, empowerment, change of design practice).

Children's Roles*

Advocates for change

Advocates for change recognise a lack of opportunities and settings for particular kinds of behaviour and activity and catalyse change accordingly. Focusing on the needs, priorities and aspirations of children and young people, they work first to identify and represent these (e.g. through research), second to make them visible, understood and valued (e.g. through campaigns, lobbying etc.) and third to catalyse positive action (e.g. through securing resource and support of relevant individuals/authorities/companies).

Builders

Builders have a hands-on role in making at least a part of the new space/place that has been designed.

Clients

The client (usually a group) decides what appears in the design brief and provides critique on the developing designs with the capacity to decide what stays and what goes. This critique is based on the design brief and on any other experience or information considered by the client to be relevant (e.g. provided by expert consultants, creative inspirers, trailblazers or from personal development activities and experiences). The client also potentially decides who will be appointed as the design team through a suitable appointment process.

Co-Designers

(Co-)designers make decisions about the design of the physical space/place being created through a process of representing that space/place.

Creative Inspirers

Creative inspirers envision, imagine and propose qualities of space and place and the activities therein, developing and communicating these using a variety of creative media (e.g. stories, models, drama, collages, drawings, film etc.) These aspirational outputs become a source of inspiration for the design team who might use these to develop the design brief or to directly inspire the qualities and content of the spaces being designed.

Expert Consultants

Expert consultants are a source of information and data about their own experience, or that of a wider group of children. This information, which might take the form of direct feedback on an experience of a place, or a report on gathered views and opinions of a wider group of children and their preferences, for example, can be used as a resource (a) by the client group to develop the brief and inform critique of design proposals, or (b) the design team to inform the developing design proposals and detailed design and specification process, even extending into the construction phase.

Placemakers

Placemakers make physical changes to the space that they already inhabit, to meet their changing needs and aspirations. This act of changing space therefore embodies an evaluation of what works and what doesn’t and critique of prior experience of that place.

Trailblazers

Trailblazers develop and create a prototype of something that is envisioned for the new space (e.g. the physical space itself, equipment or furniture in the space, a system for space-use etc.) and try it out (often with a much wider group) to see what can be learned and how this might inform the design. The findings of this experiment can directly inform the brief or developing design. The process itself might also change user attitudes or develop capacities for future space-use.

* The term “children” includes people under the age of 18 (following the UN definition)

Design Stages*

Brief

The stage of identifying project objectives and constraints for the project. May include assessing existing site information, judging feasibility; assembling project team, establishing relationships and design responsibilities.

Concept

The ‘concept’ phase includes outlining proposals for structural design; perhaps a preliminary cost plan; appraising factors relating to the environment, energy, ecology or access, for example. Initial ideas may at this stage get transferred into drawings, sketches, models or other visual representations

Design development

This stage includes developing initial proposals for structural design, services systems, landscape design, cost plan strategy, planning application preparation, sustainability assessment etc.

Technical design

This stage includes agreeing upon and specifying detailed information of all architectural, structural, mechanical and services information in considerable detail. In this phase, specialist subcontractors are appointed. Building regulations are prepared and submitted.

Construction

The stage of building, creating and/or installing – offsite and/or onsite. Review of progress and negotiation with any tenderers and contractors involved.

In-use

The building or design will be in use and users provide feedback to designers, often through a Post Occupancy Evaluation.

* Based on the RIBA plan of work

Design Concepts

Co-design

In co-design processes, the users take an active, hands-on role in the design of the major spaces, working directly and collaboratively with the design team to develop designs.

Collaboration

Designers and users working together with the aim to create jointly a space or place.

Communication

The exchange process of thoughts, ideas, messages and information. This includes non-verbal communication through behaviour or writing, for example, thus also signifying the interpersonal rapport established between individuals or groups.

Consultation

A structured process enabling different parties to express their views on a proposal or specific aspects of it. It denotes commitment on the part of the organising body to take on board participants’ views and provide feedback.

Creative dialogue

An exchange rooted in respect for the other party, which is ultimately driven by the goal of creating something (in this case, a space or place).

Creative process

The intellectual and experimentation stages in designing and producing something worthwhile, original and imaginative.

Design process

Design is here seen as a situated social process, rather than purely instrumental. Included in this definition is any stage of this process where there is still opportunity to shape/alter the intended output.

Empowerment

It is here seen as the outcome of the participation, co-creative process between designers and children in terms of children’s increased sense of influence and potential for initiating change.

Involvement

An overall term for children being included in all decision making that takes place during a design process. This can be at any level of the design process.

Knowledge

The learning, awareness and familiarity when it comes to understanding how spaces and places work and people’s needs in using these (there are different types of knowledge e.g. user/lay, expert/professional, tacit/implicit).

Motivation

The rationale for initiating a co-design project with designer-child collaboration (e.g. rights-based, educational, user-led, political/empowerment, creative enhancement)

Outcomes

The consequences, impact or follow-up from a design process (e.g. learning, empowerment)

Outputs

The end product or creation as a result of a design process (e.g. 3D model, exhibition, building, drawing)

Participation

The process of involving individuals or groups (in this case children) in decision making and different phases during a design project. The term denotes some form of active involvement in the project through increased levels of autonomy.

Transformation

A learning and change process that requires critical reflection. Transformation may result in change of the spatial environment and its use (e.g. building new spaces, appropriation of space) and/or change of ethos (e.g. subversion, empowerment, change of design practice).