Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

A Framework for Co-Design Processes and Visual Collaborative Methods: An Action Research Through Design in Chile

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Abstract:  With the urgency to adapt cities to social and ecological pressures, co-design has become essential to legitimise transformations by involving citizens and other stakeholders in their design processes. Public spaces remain at the heart of this transformation due to their accessibility for citizens and capacity to accommodate urban functions. However, urban landscape design is a complex task for people who are not used to it. Visual collaborative methods (VCMs) are often used to facilitate expression and ideation early in design, offering an arts-based language in which actors can communicate. We developed a co-design process framework to analyse how VCMs contribute to collaboration in urban processes throughout the three commonly distinguished design phases: conceptual, embodiment, and detail. We participated in a co-design process in the Atacama Desert in Chile, adopting an Action Research through Design (ARtD) in planning, undertaking and reflecting in practice. We found that VCMs are useful to facilitate collaboration throughout the process in design cycles. The variety of VCMs used were able to foster co-design in a rather non-participatory context and influenced the design outcomes. The framework recognized co-design trajectories such as the early fuzziness and the ascendent co-design trajectory throughout the process. The co-design process framework aims for conceptual clarification and may be helpful in planning and undertaking such processes in practice. We conclude that urban co-design should be planned and analysed as a long-term process of interwoven collaborative trajectories.

Keywords:  co-design; co-design process; public space; urban co-design; visual methods



© Macarena Gaete Cruz, Aksel Ersoy, Darinka Czischke, Ellen van Bueren. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.