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This blog discusses an exercise we created for co-design during the housing module in order to understand the co-design process with different elements of the design processes as well as a mix of different ‘prospective residents.’ We took turns in our groups to become design practitioners and run our own co-design exercises. My group’s exercise was to engage residents in a workshop to understand housing typologies.

Stage 1 – Briefing exercise “information pack.”

The aim of this stage was informing residents of different typologies, showing them the differences of each, what they could look like and how they generally function. This exercise provided residents with information whilst visually demonstrating different styles and ways of living, through precedent boards. The boards compared different examples of typologies based on levels. The purpose of this was the assumption that residents had little knowledge of housing typologies, as we simplified typologies to several very distinctive types, shown in the images bellow.

 Sheet 1 Housing Typologies
 Sheet 1 Housing Typologies  Sheet 2 Housing TypologiesFigure 1 : Typologies sheet, a montage of Pinterest precedents. (all rights reserved to there respective owners)  to find these images check out my Pinterest page for this project.
Stage 2 – Consensus building exercise “brain storming”

Following this, there was a brain storming exercise asking residents what they think of each typology in relation to their character’s circumstances, what they see as the benefits and its pit falls. We asked participants to use coloured sticky notes, pink negative and yellow positive.  This formed a collage of views from different residents ranging from 25 years old, families and 80-year-old pensioner.

Co design ExerciseFigure 2 : Co-design game. (Authors own, 2017).

MindmapFigure 3 : Co-design mind map. (Authors own, 2017).

Stage 3 – Design workshop exercise

The third stage, in my opinion, was my favourite part, as it’s the most hands-on, visually exploring and engaging stage. As the aim was for each ‘residential group’ whether it was a single person or a family, worked to develop a housing unit and conceptual floor plan relating to that typology which was specifically tailored to that family’s needs.

Elderly BungalowFigure 4 : Bungalow floorplan for elderly couple (Authors own 2017)

To start with we gave everyone a blank gridded layout sheet, along with several different spaces which you would expect in a home. Using proportionally printed squares based on typical room sizes. In addition to this we allowed them freedom to draw walls and add or draw their own rooms using colours provided, all residents ended up with a floor plan for their home.Single Parent Ground FloorSingle Parent 1st floor Figure 5 & 6 : 2-bed semi detached floorplan for single parent (Authors own 2017)

We then made use of the current cohousing plot for science central site, using block volumes, drawing on them and cutting parts off to create balconies and layouts.  In the end concept floorplan and modelled volume related to what they needed in their home, along with how that typology suits their specific character. Following this the group arranged the volumes on the site to create a conceptual community.

Site ModelFigure 7 : Building volumes on site plan (Authors own 2017)

In the end, this proved to be a very successful exercise in my opinion as we tried to creatively engage with the residents, using a variety of visual methods rather than rattle through a sheet of words and bore everyone. In the end, the whole process only works if the residents are actively engaged and willing to contribute towards the design exercise.

Image References:


Figure 1 : Typologies sheet, a montage of Pinterest precedents. (all rights reserved to there respective owners).

Figure 2 : Co-design game. (Authors own, 2017).

Figure 3 : Co-design mind map. (Authors own, 2017).

Figure 4 : Bungalow floorplan for elderly couple (Authors own 2017)

Figure 5 & 6 : 2-bed semi detached floorplan for single parent (Authors own 2017)

Figure 7 : Building volumes on site plan (Authors own 2017)


One response to “Scenario based co-design exercise”

  1. Here in this blog post, Adem highlights one of the most important parts of any community led project. Community engagement exercises before starting the actual project allow the future residents to develop the design according to their vision and requirements. Especially in the co-housing project which has to be designed by its own residents to fulfill their needs. But, not all the residents understand the pure architectural design process and developments of the floor plans and site plan. This co-design exercise plays its role by simplifying the whole process for the residents by using storyboards, precedents, lego modules etc. Adem gave a good example of one of the exercise designed by their group to understand the housing typology requirements of the residents. Residents may be from various fields other than architecture or sometimes don’t have knowledge of any field. So, they don’t recognize housing typology by architectural terms. For that, showing them the pictures of those possible typologies from which they can easily select one for them is an easy exercise involving all the age group of people. There are various exercises being done for different functions and elements of the site. Like, amenities, finance model, typology, site design & selection etc. In conclusion, community engagement in the project actually makes it more successful product.

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School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509


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