Consulting the Public about the Design and Regeneration of Urban Public Space: Evaluating the Effectiveness of the On-street Event and Walking Discussion

By Katerina Frankova, Andrée Woodcock and Philip Dunham.

Published by The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Consulting the public has become a statutory requirement in urban design and planning. Unfortunately, insufficient attention has been paid to the effectiveness of the actual methods used (Rowe and Frewer, 2004).

In order to explore this area, a range of consultation methods were tested at a university campus undergoing some redevelopment. This paper focuses on the comparison of two methods: (1) the on-street event, inspired by Wates’ (2000) ‘street stalls’ and ‘interactive displays’, and (2) the walking discussion, adapted from Jones et al’s (2008) ‘walking interviews’. While the on-street event involved over 130 participants, over 60% of the comments collected did not include any suggestions for improvement and almost 70% did not refer to any particular area. In contrast, walking discussions through the campus with only 11 participants provided lively discussions, leading to more informed comments and realistic and constructive ideas for improvement. The findings suggest that a greater number of people does not necessarily generate a more constructive input into a potential design process. Instead, it is suggested that greater consideration needs to be given to the appropriateness and effectiveness of the methods used to consult the public, guided by the aims of the consultation and the ‘actionability’ of the data gathered.

The paper presents the preliminary findings and examples of data generated by each of the two methods, together with the methodological challenges posed by them.

Keywords: Consultation, Methods, Mobile Methods, On-street Event, Walking Discussion, Public Spaces, Regeneration

The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.115-129. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 516.393KB).

Katerina Frankova

Research Student, School of Art and Design, Coventry University, Coventry, UK

Katerina Frankova is in the third year of her PhD at Coventry University. She is focusing on how the general public could be consulted more effectively about the regeneration of urban public spaces. Katerina’s first degree, in geography with tourism, was obtained in 2009, also from Coventry University. She has completed work placements at both public and private sector organisations–within the Research and Strategy Team at Coventry City Council and the Planning, Policy and Economics Team at ARUP, Leeds. Her passion is travelling and reading.

Prof. Andrée Woodcock

Leader of the Integrated Transport and Logistics Grand Challenge, School of Art and Design, Coventry University, UK

Dr. Philip Dunham

Head of Geography, Geography, Environment and Disaster Management, Coventry University, UK