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The Benefits of Community-led Design

Learn about the four key benefits of community-led design for people and places.

In the examples you explored so far it was evident that when community groups lead the design process, by inviting and taking a diverse set of people with them to inform and support their project, the benefits are multiple for the building itself, its users, and society at large.

  • Local knowledge and creativity can improve the design outcome. There is a wealth of knowledge and creativity within the community that can help move the project forward and improve the quality of the design outcome. Tapping into local knowledge and experiences can help identify unexpected problems. Members of the community can also provide valuable technical knowledge and skills to help solve specific problems. By asking for a broad range of contributions you can also bring in fresh ideas and stimulate innovation.
  • Shared leadership brings ownership and sustainability. By sharing leadership, you share ownership of the process and the outcome. Shared leadership helps create social capital, social connections, and build a sense of community and of a shared future. This can contribute to the sustainability of the place, by bringing in more personal and economic investment to support its function in the future, for the benefit of generations to come.
  • Engagement in the design process builds capacity and skills within community. Engaging in the design process can help acquire valuable transferable skills and build the capacity of individuals and groups to use design in other parts of their personal, professional and community life. Such transferable skills include for example the ability to explore needs and envisage potential futures; the ability to articulate and communicate aspirations and achievements; and the ability to work with others.
  • Community engagement makes the process more inclusive and democratic. Traditional design and planning processes often exclude people who may lack the capacity to participate, due to lack of (access to) resources such as time, lack of motivation, or lack of confidence in their own abilities. The engagement of a broad spectrum of people and organisations in the design process, can help question and reformulate existing power structures, contributing to the empowerment of disadvantaged or marginalised people.

Now, share your thoughts on community-led design, based on your own experiences and understanding of the examples you explored in this course so far:

  • What do you think the benefits of community-led design are? Is there something missing from the list above?
  • Are some of these benefits more important than others in your view? Why?
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Enabling Community-Based Leadership in Design: Sustainable Development of Historic Faith Buildings

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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