For decades, collaborative design has helped enliven neighborhoods and promote racial, economic, and social justice. But in an era marked by climate change, growing income inequality, and major advances in technology, designers are acknowledging the limitations of public forums and other conventional methods of community engagement.
A new book titled Design as Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity (Island Press, 2017) reinvigorates democratic design. Edited by six leaders in the field all from the College of Environmental Design—including David de la Peña (M.U.D. ‘06, Ph.D. Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning), architect and Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at UC Davis; Diane Jones Allen (M.L.A. ‘84), CED Distinguished Alumna and Director of the Landscape Architecture Program at the University of Texas, Arlington; Randolph Hester, Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning; Jeffrey Hou (M.Arch ‘94, Ph.D. Environmental Planning ‘01), Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington, Seattle; Laura J. Lawson (M.L.A. ‘92, Ph.D. Environmental Planning ‘00) is Dean of Agriculture and Urban Programs at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; and Marcia J. McNally, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning—it offers fresh insights for creating meaningful dialogue between designers and communities in the 21st Century and for transforming places with justice and democracy in mind.
Featuring contributions from the most experienced and respected figures in community design, as well as emerging democratic designers, Design as Democracy presents 60 techniques for engaging with communities in empowering and effective ways. The book’s nine chapters reflect the progression of the community design process: from approaching the initial stages of a project, to getting to know a community, to provoking political change through strategic thinking.
Featured techniques range from “Cellphone Diaries” and “Cross-Cultural Prototyping” to “The Spatial Design Game” and “Mapping Environmental Injustice.” Clear, numbered instructions and real-world case stories reinforce key concepts, while guided worksheets encourage practical application. Readers may approach the book as they would a cookbook, with recipes open to improvisation, adaptation, and being created anew.
Design as Democracy itself is an open, democratic way of sharing techniques and stories that should spark additional approaches to reform democratic design. Filled with inspiration, techniques, and case stories for a wide range of contexts, this essential collection belongs in the hands of anyone striving to create vibrant, important places.
Design as Democracy can be purchased here. Enter code 4DESDEM at checkout for 20% off the book.