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Spatial Capacity Building

Walking, recording and collaborative mapping:  how can we advance PD methodology by engaging with heritage?

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How can we cross disciplinary boundaries when it comes to spatial planning and design? Can the exchange and the use of expert knowledge in these fields be improved, and lead to a higher level of applied democracy?

As part of the 2018 Participatory Design Conference (PDC2018) in Hasselt and Genk, we will respond to these questions by testing an interactive walking and data collecting methodology. This exercise is designed to address spatial planning and design in an inclusive manner and takes form as a workshop of half a day. As a case study, we reflect on the possibilities of pluralizing approaches to heritage studies, by looking into how participatory design methodologies could be applied in this field. Our walk will lead you in a team of five members through Winterslag, a residential area which developed in the first half of the 20th century around one of the three coalmines in the City of Genk – the current C-mine cultural and educational center. On the basis of this experiment we establish how our methodology responds to wider concerns of participatory spatial planning and design.

Discussions about heritage are increasingly crucial to contemporary politics and intersect with wider discussions on identity, inclusion and diversity. Typically, heritage is a field of selected experts who determine discursive practices, as argued by Laurajane Smith in the seminal book Uses of Heritage. The contribution of this workshop to the PDC goals is in outlining a methodology for supporting pluralism in the realm of design and planning, by crossing typical disciplinary boundaries and by raising the level of democracy in fields commonly governed by such expert viewpoints. Through discussion, the wider applicability of the proposed methodology is explored.

We invite practitioners and scholars who are interested in exploring an urban environment as a tool for participatory decision making to join our workshop during the PDC2018. We seek participants with a background in urban studies, planning, architecture, (multimedia) design and heritage studies. We do not exclude disabled people form our explorative methodology and will ensure that those in requirement of help to reach or move across the site will be provided with required assistance.