April 2, 2012

Engaging the Community in Design

New Planners Press publication provides how-to guidance on participatory design making.

Making Community Design Work: A Guide for PlannersCHICAGO — Participatory design making gives people a chance to voice their opinions and influence their communities. The key to successful design includes listening to and guiding the discussion.

Umut Toker's new book, Making Community Design Work: A Guide for Planners, illustrates how effective communication and collaboration can create sustainable design that benefits residents. Toker distills decades of community design experience into an implementable how-to manual.

Read an excerpt from Making Community Design Work: A Guide for Planners.

Making Community Design Work is divided into four parts. The first part explores the history of movements, including the City Beautiful, modernist, and grassroots movements to illustrate why participatory design making is the preferred approach. One reason is that this process enables citizens to be the architects of their own environment. As Toker writes, "It is pragmatically and psychologically beneficial for people to shape their environments to benefit their individual and community lives."

The second part of the book explores the community design process. It takes the reader step-by-step through the contemporary community design process. Steps include developing a project timeline, identifying participants and creating the plan proposal.

The third part of the book, the toolkit, details different ways the community designer may gather information about the community by exploring and experiencing it. Toker also encourages the use of goal-setting methods to help guide community discussions to ensure they are purposeful. Methods such as likes-and-dislikes analysis, have- and wish-poems, PARK analysis, and interviews help generate useful information.

The final part of the book provides case studies that illustrate the application of activity formats, methods and instruments. The case studies feature different scales of community design efforts from site-specific and architectural design to larger, regional scale activities. 

Making Community Design Work emphasizes that the goal of community design is to ensure that genuine participation in design making is achieved.

Umut Toker is an associate professor at California Polytechnic State University in the department of City & Regional Planning. He teaches participatory planning and design methods, urban design studios and computer applications. He earned his doctorate from North Carolina State University and Master of City Planning in Urban Design and Bachelor of Architecture from Middle East Technical University in Turkey. His writing has been published in Research Policy and the Journal of Agricultural and Planning Research.

Making Community Design Work: A Guide for Planners (ISBN: 9781611900026) is available immediately from APAPlanningBooks.com for $39.95 ($29.95 for APA members). Media review copies are available by contacting Roberta Rewers at rrewers@planning.org.


Roberta Rewers, APA Public Affairs; 312-786-6395; rrewers@planning.org