Design is a Two-Way Street

By Tessa Nasca | Photos: Kai Zhou

At the Jackson Park-Brookdale Vision + Design workshop, hosted in partnership between TCAT and GreenUP last month, we witnessed collaborative learning in action. The event convened residents and professionals to work together on design solutions for the neighbourhood. It also provided a platform for learning—in fact, 91% of professionals who responded to our post-event survey reported they learned something new that they’ll integrate in their professional practice going forward.

When we bring together residents and professionals, many assume that the residents will learn a lot from the professional community—and that can be true. But collaborative learning goes both ways in the co-design process. As preliminary results from our post-event survey indicate, participants from the professional community also walked away with new knowledge and understanding. When it comes to planning public spaces that work for the people that use them most, residents hold rich knowledge. By taking the time to learn from and with residents, people in the built environment and public health disciplines can enhance their professional practices, and deepen their understanding of how to build healthy, resilient, and active neighbourhoods.

Our event was also highly interdisciplinary, and it gave people the opportunity to collaborate with people in adjacent professions. The professionals in attendance worked in diverse fields, including urban planning, public health, urban design, architecture, community development, transportation engineering/planning, accessibility, and sustainable landscaping. They also spanned the not-for-profit, public, and private sectors, creating a unique opportunity for inter-professional collaboration and learning.

Our survey also found that people appreciated this opportunity to collaborate with residents and colleagues from other professions. One hundred per cent of survey respondents said they would recommend the event to a colleague, and 100% also found it a good opportunity to network with other like-minded professionals. This demonstrates that interdisciplinary, collaborative learning is something that people enjoy, and find valuable to their professional practice.

Through this collaborative workshop, we generated some innovative and locally-grounded design solutions for the neighbourhood. As we continue our work with GreenUP in the Jackson Park-Brookdale neighbourhood, the results of this workshop will contribute to the creation of a neighbourhood vision.

Posted On: August 16, 2018