The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU project and alumni’s charity CatalyticAction receive Artful Integrators Award

18 June 2020

The Participatory Spatial Intervention led by DPU's Andrea Rigon and implemented by CatalyticAction has been awarded the Artful Integrators Award (AIA) by the 16th Participatory Design Conference.


The ceremony took place virtually during the Festival Internacional de la Imagen and the Participatory Design Conference 2020 in Manizales, Colombia, and was attended by Andrea Rigon and DPU alumna Joana Dabaj.

The award given to CatalyticAction intended to recognize outstanding achievement in the area of participatory design. Where traditional design awards have gone to individual designers and singular objects, the Artful Integrators Award emphasizes the importance of collaborative participation in design, and a view of good design as the effective alignment of diverse collections of people, practices and artifacts.

The 9th AIA award was awarded to a team who together have worked out, in an exceptionally creative way, new forms of participation in design. The head of the award jury, Prof Ann Light, explained how the project demonstrated team work, a deep participatory process, and design sensitivity. The judges were particularly impressed about how the project stretched participatory design beyond its customary limits to achieve new possibilities and impacts. 

In her award speech, CatalyticAction co-founder and DPU alumna Joana Dabaj explained how this experimental co-production aimed to address vulnerabilities to the urban space as identified by Lebanese as well as Palestinian and Syrian refugees, and particularly the most vulnerable residents among them. CatalyticAction’s longer-term collaborative engagement with local residents, the use of novel citizen science, participatory design and a diversity lens led to social infrastructures that respond to residents’ needs, but it also transformed social relations and built a human infrastructure, made of residents across different nationalities, genders and age groups able to negotiate and activate important change processes autonomously.

If you want to know more about this award winning collaboration between CatalyticAction and the DPU, you can watch this recent short documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnmn5ouCBcM

Or download the full report: https://www.catalyticaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/PSI-Report_Digital_FINAL_low.pdf

CatalyticAction is a UK Charity and design studio founded by two DPU alumni and DPU’s Dr Andrea Rigon is the chair of the board. It works to empower communities through strategic and innovative spatial interventions. The Participatory Spatial Intervention was funded by the British Academy and the Global Challenges Research Fund.