End Date: April 2008
Investigator: Les Forsyth -
Other Investigators: Paul Jenkins - SCOTMARK and
Tim Sharpe -
There is a widely recognised need for research on issues relating
to the users of buildings and participation in the architectural design
process. There is not, however, a consensual body of knowledge on the extent of
existing research, where the priorities for research lie or what resources,
methods and approaches exist to carry out this research. Both the need for such
research and the lack of an agreed set of methods is acknowledged by the
professional bodies, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Royal
Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), key public clients like the
Scottish Executive and other organisations such as Architecture and Design
Scotland, the Lighthouse and the Commission for Architecture and the Built
Environment (CABE). This research seeks to map out the scope of existing
knowledge on user participation in architectural design, explore existing
methods of fostering forms of user participation, and point to gaps in both
knowledge and methods. It will propose an agenda of national and international
relevance for further research in the field, and seek funding for
implementation of key items on that agenda. There are a number of reasons for
undertaking this research. On the supply side there is a growing sense within
the architectural profession of the need for design to be more socially
inclusive. This is partly to respond to broader socio-political objectives such
as stated in the Policy on Architecture for
The project was driven by the following primary research questions:
• WHY? – Given the agreed need for wider social participation in the design process, why is there limited communication between research into and practice of the subject?
• WHO? - Who gets involved and how does the user–architect role affect the client–architect role, and within this the client-user relationship?
• WHAT? – What activities in design are participated in, and to what extent does the architect see this role as guiding the user as opposed to investigating the user’s existing interests/awareness?
• HOW? – How social and technical tools for participation can be used. How can non-specialised language and tools be used to communicate more openly in the process, and how will this affect use of resources?
• WHERE? – Which types of buildings might be more or less suited to participation of users and the general public in the design process?
A book detailing the findings of the project and the case studies involved was published by Routledge in 2010. See some details here...