Transcript: Inclusive Spaces: Participatory design and diversity
Refugee, Inclusive space, Design, Participatory
Andrea Rigon, Joana Dabaj
00:06:04 Andrea Rigon: Welcome to the Inclusive Spaces seminar series at the Bartlett, Faculty of the Built Environment here at UCL. Today you have joined the September edition of Inclusive Spaces. I’m Andrea Rigon, an associate professor at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit and I'm joined by Joana Dabaj, a Bartlett alumna and founder of Catalytic Action design studio. This session will be recorded and added to the Faculty YouTube channel, Bartlett EDI websites, and forwarded to all registered attendees. And we encourage you to submit a question for us at any point during this lecture by clicking on the Q&A function at the bottom of the screen, you can submit your own question, or you can also look at other questions and upvote them. We will have the presentation, for the first half of the session and then begin the Q&A in the second half, and we will be ending by 2pm. Joana, do you want to share the screen? Fantastic.
So, today we present our reflection on a participatory spatial intervention recently implemented as a collaboration between the Bartlett and Catalytic Action in the Lebanese town of Bar Elias. This piece of work also involves our colleague Hannah Bauman, and was part of the project, public services and vulnerability in the Lebanese context of large-scale displacement that was funded by the British academy and was led by Henrietta More.
This work then fed into our more recent project funded by the global challenges research fund which developed a handbook for the co-design of built interventions with children affected by displacement. And this handbook builds on the practical work of Catalytic Action, a charity and design studio founded by Bartlett alumni Joana, as I mentioned, and Riccardo Luca Conti. The number of forced migrants is that global recorded heart and whether they have been displaced internally or across international border they mostly settle in urban areas. Where data presented significant number that can quickly change urban dynamics from labour and housing markets to infrastructures and services. And refugees often settle in the poorest parts of cities where rent and other living costs are lower. This means that they leave side by side with the poorest local population.
And this may generate tensions that build upon a number of other axis of differences, including religion, ethnicity or nationality age and gender. This tension can be exacerbated if international aid is directed at displaced people such as refugees, while vulnerable host communities are not supported to a similar degree. Therefore, we need an approach that is sensitive to different group’s needs, and to the social spatial impact of identities.
This first part of the talk reflects on the potential of a participatory methodology developed and tested in Bar Elias, to show how participatory design can create spaces that address the needs of vulnerable groups from all backgrounds and how the process of co-designing physical infrastructures can transform social relations and build a human infrastructure able to negotiate and activate change processes. And within the increasing productive nature of displacement situation, humanitarian actors are rethinking the humanitarian development nexus in the attempt to shift from short term emergency support to long term development plan. And it is in this context that humanitarian interventions benefiting both austere refugee communities have the potential to change narratives of refugees as a burden, because their presence can help transform cities with new infrastructure for all; and address the concern of a number of marginal groups. In part, to avoid these aid-induced tensions, the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan for example targets Syrian refugees and vulnerable members of the host Lebanese community equally.
However, as identities, play a key role in the use of these infrastructures, it is essential that they are planned designed and implemented in a manner that is sensitive to issues of diversity, and thereby ensures the benefits are enjoyed by the most vulnerable residents. And these are the challenges addressed by the participatory infrastructural design project discussed.
Global force placement reaching new high, with at least 82 million people. The duration of displacement is also increasing with protracted refugee situation across the globe now lasting an average of 26 years with 80 percent of refugees in a protracted situation. 60% of refugees and even a higher percentage of internally displaced people live in urban areas. Often in the poorest cities, towns and neighbourhoods, living next to the most vulnerable host populations.
And the infrastructures have the capacity to address vulnerabilities or to create new ones, and in this lecture, we start from the basic meaning of infrastructures, as the underlining foundation of a society. They play a role in shaping how people relate to the city and to each other, transforming social relations. This is even more important for infrastructures that enable social activities such as education and public space.
Their design and accessibility may help create cohesion and justice or foster exclusion and infrastructural violence. The distribution and functioning of infrastructures thus play a key role in producing spatial justice or injustice. Infrastructure interventions can create local employment, build the local skills, and improve living conditions of both host and refugee communities. If fairly distributed, these economic benefits can contribute to social cohesions as local residents perceive material benefit from the refugee presence. However, in their approach to infrastructures most humanitarian agencies ignore important aspects of the design and implementation processes. Residents are a vital part of dynamic and functioning urban infrastructures and systems, and yet they are seldom involved in decisions about them in the global South.
Another relevant dimension of infrastructures regards the important role of building a human infrastructure made of social relations and people's capacities that can facilitate collective decision making. Such human infrastructure becomes all the more important in context characterized by conflict built on different dimensions of identity.
We all have multiple identities, such as gender, class, race and ethnicity, citizenship status, age, ability and sexuality, and some of these identities are individual and other are collective. They are fluid and in constant change and the fundamental way to understand how these identities shape different experiences, needs and aspirations, is the concept of intersectionality. In over-simplification, that is how the combination of multiple dimensions of identity creates unique experiences, especially of oppression and discrimination.
And different aspects of individual and collective social identities play a crucial role in social process shaping life chances. The relationships between these different identities are intertwined with power. There are consolidated hierarchies and power relations amongst these identities, which make them relational. This includes relation between, for example, men and women, black and white people, etc. It is this, unequal relations between identities, that contributes to inequalities and marginalization process.
And these identities and relationships, and this relationship between them, change in different contexts and over time, which means that they are socially constructed and thus they can be socially deconstructed.
Therefore, addressing these inequalities requires a relational contextual and intersectional approach, focused on transforming power relations that are at the core of social identities, making the recognition of diversity a political process. And these are the considerations that underpin the way our co-design process in Bar Elias was conceived and which were directly addressed with participants throughout the process. Over to you Joana.
00:16:34 Joana Dabaj: Thank you, Andrea. Lebanon is the country hosting the highest number of displaced per capita worldwide; every fourth resident is a refugee. The participatory spatial intervention in Bar Elias sought to test novel ways in which refugees and host communities could work together to design and implement built interventions that would address their vulnerabilities and improve the well-being of all residents. Bar Elias is a town located halfway between Beirut and Damscus respectively Lebanon’s and Syria’s capitals, and part of the Bekaa Valley, where most of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon live.
The municipality of Bar Elias has worked on the space Syrian since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Given the town’s close proximity to the Syrian border, existing social and familiar networks, its majority is Sunni religious affiliation. This influx had put pressure on public services, various had witnessed rapid transformation in response to the needs of different communities living there, estimated to be 70,000 Lebanese, 7000 Palestinian refugees, and between 31,000 and 45,000 displayed Syrians.
The majority of refugee households in the Bekaa area live in non-permanent or non-residential shelters. Over 100 and former centres and settlements where Syrians face substandard conditions with limited space have proliferated on agricultural fields and empty lots in Bar Elias. We recruited and trained a group of seven citizen scientists that are women and men, Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese.
After the development planning unit summer lab workshop the site for the party’s participation intervention was identified. It is the entrance road to the town, which was the only place used by most Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian residents, as well as visitors. This road is characterized by the presence of many shops’ services, including health centres and wide footpath, making it an important social hub actively used at different times. The key activity to shape the intervention was a participatory design workshop, where the citizen scientists learned how to research infrastructure needs and problems, as well as vulnerabilities of different people living together. They developed the design brief that would address their needs and aspirations.
We can see on this slide the different steps of this process leading to the Community engaged construction and monitoring over two periods of time, the last monitoring was completed last week, which is two years after the intervention’s implementation.
Here are few pictures of the process, the street observation, participatory mapping, design consultation, exhibition, interviews, discussions and intersectionality training. The design is a series of small interventions, making the road accessible, child friendly and safe. In order to enhance Community creation spaces for all, exceeded public seating area was proposed in a key location on the sidewalk. We transformed an unsafe sidewalk in front of the public clinic that used to be jammed with cars into a pedestrian-only sidewalk with a main seating and shading area, trees and floor gains, playful features for children to play.
Today, the space is considered to be the square of the town where people meet and call for gatherings. We also worked on accessibility, the sidewalks along this road, are very high, we incorporated access ramps to the sidewalks, allowing persons on wheelchairs, mothers with trolleys, and elderly to use the road and access it easily.
Pollution and waste are key issues highlighted by the locals. With a small project we couldn't solve such big issues in full, but we raised awareness on the importance of recycling, for instance, here is a shade made of plastic collected by the participants.
00:21:09 Andrea Rigon: And researching power relations can be problematic as these identities are socially constructed and the discussions of these divisions contributes to validating them. Therefore, it is better to observe how they emerge empirically in social interaction, without starting from preconceived ideas of the relevance of specific identities over others. In diversity sensitive participatory design interventions offer a privileged observation point to explore these relations through practice and to face the related challenges, for example, one resident of Bar Elias refused to have an access ramp built on the pavement in front of his building.
Despite municipal approval and the fact that the intervention was in public space, the municipality could not challenge the power this man asserted. And in infrastructure, like the plan set for disability ramps, loses a lot of its utility if the accessible path is interrupted by a missing ramp. Therefore the power of one man can undermine a collective effort. We also found that there was much less hostility towards Syrians compared to what is generally assumed in policy literature, but we found that the dynamics of spatial segregation had limited interaction between hosts and Syrians does reducing reciprocal cost. There are two intertwined ways in which intervention transforms social relations: through the impact of the physical interventions and through the social process of co-design itself. Many efforts were made to create an environment where all felt able to participate.
The design workshop and the overall process created a disruptive space of freedom for participants, as well as the process of personal transformation in which, for the first time Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians of different ages, groups, genders, education level and class, were able to work together as equals.
And the group also became aware of unequal gender relations in their attempt to gather data and gender equality was advanced through insurgent practice. The municipality, for example, had explicitly said that they would not accept any project that actually aim for a change in gender relations. And some women would not normally have been permitted to take part in such a process, but the involvement of two well recognized universities allowed the work to be framed as educational, helping legitimize their participation to their fathers or husbands.
A woman revealed that for the first time she felt she was not just a mother, the project also hired women in the construction process, disrupting the sector dominated by men and empowerment also came, because the two architects will facilitate most of the process, including Joanna, were two Lebanese women who publicly negotiated with the male Mayor and other male directors at the municipality, as well as managing and paying male contractors on site. And for some Syrians the process and allow them to become part of the town, by contributing to shaping it and to some extent exercising agency and urban citizenship.
And this, creating a feeling of inclusion, but it was also a means for them to reciprocate for the hospitality they had received. Participants realize that interventions, for the most vulnerable can also significantly benefit less vulnerable groups. Thus being a win, win solution.
One of the ways to deal with internal conflicts or different priorities between different groups and individuals was to explicitly focus on the most vulnerable, as everyone agreed, it was important, the intervention benefit those individuals first. The physical intervention converted a public space into a social space, breaking barriers across nationality, gender and age. The interventions also contributed to changing the narrative from refugees as a burden, to refugees as the residents helping transform Bar Elias from a small town into a city.
Unexpectedly, the intervention catalysed complimentary action from others, which amplified the impact and the scale of the intervention, which had very limited funding. The municipality sent their machinery to support the construction process and provided workers to clear the rabble in the park, as well as water containers to water the new plants and trees, drill the water well in the park for irrigation and agree to take responsibility for maintaining the garden.
And another interesting aspect was that in October 2019 Lebanon faceed a wave of unprecedented protests that rapidly spread across the country. And infrastructure created through this participatory intervention became the focal point for the protests in Bar Elias, as you can see in the picture.
The process of creating the intervention built a human infrastructure, made up of residents of the city from different identities, were able to participate in and initiate city making processes that take into account and analyse the diversity of residents needs and aspiration. This is a network of people and capacities that operates for the city, beyond sectarian divisions and other dimensions of segregation.
The experience of Bar Elias shows that combining actual research, citizen science, participatory design, and the diversity lens, not only contributes to the design of infrastructures that respond to residences’ needs, but that it can transform social relations and build the human infrastructure able to negotiate and activate important change processes while defusing social tensions. Such an approach is especially important in unequal conflict or settings where relational context and intersectional approach can reveal the complexities of power relations and the inequalities.
And they can create a new urban citizenship, a participatory citizenship born out of the Community building elements of participatory design. And such citizenship is able to reduce social tensions and build new solidarities between different groups, while constructively engaging with the authorities.
And actually we have published these reflections in this new book, Inclusive Urban Development in the Global South, which focused on issues of intersectionality and diversity and it has been published by Routledge.
And we also made, more specifically, a couple of documentaries that go into details of the methodologies, as well as a report on the participatory special intervention with lots of information about the old methodological process, and they are both available in Arabic and English. And while the core of the participants of this specific intervention were adults, actually Catalytic Action has focussed over the years on the 40% of displaced people, who are children.
And actually, reflecting on Catalytic Action’s practice we developed an extensive research project DeCID. The main output of this project is a handbook for the co-design of built interventions with children affected by displacement, that has been informed by more than 1500 children and it has been published with two UN agencies: the UN habitat and UNICEF. We’d like to show you a very quick animation to introduce the project, and then we end on talking a little bit about this project.
00:30:40 DeCID Animation: Global force displacement, is at a record high. Displaced populations often live in precarious conditions next vulnerable host communities. Over 40% of displaced people are children. Their access to safe spaces to learn and play is limited, this can be detrimental to their healthy development and overall well-being.
Building additional social infrastructure for children, such as schools and playgrounds might be the obvious solution. But in order to truly improve the well-being of children affected by displacement, it is crucial that they participate in all phases of the design and implementation of build projects. This can empower children, boost the local economy, build positive relationships between displaced people and the hosts, and result in better infrastructure for the children and their communities.
How can children participate in the design of build projects?
- Through four simple steps. 1) put children and their carers at the centre of developing ideas for the project. This requires strong partnerships that consider the specific needs of children affected by displacement. 2) translate children's ideas into design solutions, taking into account the diversity of children and their experiences, context and location. 3) use local materials and contractors, ensuring that children and laborers are protected along the entire supply chain. 4) work with children to decide how to use the space after construction, this allows them to take ownership of the space and contribute to its sustainability.
DeCID has developed a practical toolkit for the participation of children in built environment projects. It acts as a bridge between professionals of participatory design and forced displacement in an urban context, and it recognizes the importance of the quality of space on play and child development.
00:32:48 Andrea Rigon: Over to you, Joana.
00:32:54 Joana Dabaj: Thank you, Andrea. So, despite the multiple positive impacts, it was observed that there is an undersupply of such interventions. And we looked into this and concluded that this is mostly happening because such interventions require professionals from different tiers of specialty to work together, and often organizational structures do not make these collaborations easy.
There additional value is difficult to measure, especially on the long term, they require a larger initial investment compared to the funds required only for the built product and, lastly, these interventions often present multiple operational challenges, including some linked to safeguarding. The handbook addresses these challenges by providing to all actors involved the comprehensive understanding of the entire process and practical guidelines and tools.
It is divided in three parts. Part A, is about designing with children, Part B is about procurement and building, and Part C is about post building impact and sustainability. As I mentioned, we wanted this handbook to be very practical, which is why we also included a number of step by step tools and templates that practitioners will be able to download and use to engage with children and co-design activities. In addition to this, throughout the handbook we present many examples of projects or simply scenarios and stories from real projects. This was done to keep things as practical as possible, even when explaining more theoretical concepts.
Moving to the handbook contents in a bit more details. Part A, designing with children, is obviously the core section of the handbook. It is important to mention that, for us, design refers to the entire process linked to a built intervention, starting in many cases, with an idea and leading to a build product.
This understanding is different from other approaches that limit design to the act of drawing a space, so when we say designers, children will also mean engaged as children in generating an idea, building a partnership, discussing funding, researching needs and so on.
Some of the key messages from Part A are children must be at the centre of the co design process. The process of designing spaces with children requires careful planning, including the preparation of tools appropriate to the context and to the participants. Children should be engaged through playful and fun activities and good facilitation is key for successful participatory engagement. Also, in working with children and vulnerable context the design choices that are linked with the selection of building materials has a major impact.
For example, if you are building a school in the refugee settlements and we select building materials available locally and we purchased them from small businesses, run by the parents of the children who will be attending the school - this will have indirect impact on children's well-being as the project is supporting their family. Equally, we can generate the same impact when we hire local labour. In this case, we had fathers and mothers of the children, who will later be attending the school, joining us on the construction sites.
Part B: procurement and building. This part is a bit more technical, but it is really important. And in fact, many participants found the topics presented here to be a major barrier to the implementation of core design interventions with that within their organizations. Even if we engage children in coming up with ideas and developing solutions, then those solutions need to be built, and due to the nature of this work, what I just explained, about generating impact and empowerment also during the construction process, it becomes fundamental to also pay attention to this faze.
For example, we have responsibility to ensure the health and safety of the people who build these spaces, which in many cases, are the parents of the children, we are working with. But also, if you want to deliver innovative design solutions that are durable built with local materials and skills, then we must develop ways to engage with procurement, not just as a boring bureaucratic step of the process, but as an important one.
Only by approaching procurement differently and by placing children's well-being at the centre of it, we would be able to implement innovative solutions, such as the Widest Slide in Lebanon, which was the result of a collaboration with multiple providers, and that was a direct answer to what kids wanted and I quote: “A slide large enough, so I can play with my friends.”
And lastly, Part C: post building impact and sustainability, what we present in this section is that it is important to also think about how we can maximize the impact of a built intervention.
For example, in this playground, we decided to maximize impact by setting up a basketball training for the children. And the key question here is how we can work with children to get the most out of the implemented spaces. And this collaboration with children that started with coming up with an idea, then continues to developing design solutions, building, now extends to post building. Those projects that managed to get this comprehensive engagement, or those that generate a very strong sense of ownership towards the space, and of course the empowered children. The last section of this toolkit speaks about impact and the key message here is really realize how such co design processes have an impact that goes beyond the physical product, and that is much more linked to the participatory process, which I presented here today.
The handbook is also available in Spanish and Arabic, and we provide training to organizations involved in this projects, please do get in touch and thank you so much.
00:39:09 Andrea Rigon: Thank you very much, Joana. And now we started the Q&A, so please post more questions, if you have them. And just to say, you can download the handbook from the website of the project, decid.co.uk
Okay, so I think the first question is a good question for Joanna from someone in the audience, he or she is writing: “I see that most of the research process took place during Covid-19. What impact did Covid-19 have on the process? Did you have to adjust or change anything?”
00:40:01 Joana Dabaj, CatalyticAction: Yes, definitely we had to change and adjust the methodology and how we engage the key stakeholders and participants in this participatory process. So, for example, for the decent project we had planned to do face to face workshops, with the practitioners, and we had to change - it was during the start of Covid - so we had to adapt really quickly and try to understand how we can try to get the same engagement, the same input. We hosted collective discussions, one to one online interviews, so we had to really adapt quickly. And when we speak about face-to-face participation with children, we also adjusted this in a recent projects, for example, we tried to follow social distancing, ensure to have a lower number of children, and to have an open space, use masks, sanitize, … so, we had to learn and adjust quickly to still have good participation and valuable participation.
00:41:07 Andrea Rigon: Okay, and then maybe I’m going to take the two related questions from the audience, and the first one is: “How do you address sensitive intersectionality to participants and make them internalize?” and the second one is: “Do you explore the methodology, in which you train the participants to keep monitoring data like you understand how to scale or replicate in other places, by themselves?”
And maybe I'm going to try to be brief, but this is really about having a long term commitment with a group of people that work with us as citizen scientists, as local researchers for ideally over a number of years and in multiple projects. There is a process of really, for example, understanding issues of intersectionality and how they play out in space is about, for example, even with other residents showing lots of examples from other cities and other places with other problems that are taking place there, and so we don't suggest, what are the problems or the issues, the intersectionality issue that plays out in the area where they live, but by looking at the other examples from so many other countries and places they then see how those relate to themselves, and they start a conversation about it and they go out and have this conversation. So, we don't come and say ‘oh, look the important issue here is how religion and gender and nationality intersect with each other, and this is how segregation is created, …’
No, that for us would actually create more problems, if someone coming from outside would actually validate those divisions, but it’s about how this conversation emerged between people and how this can be led through a process where everyone feels comfortable. Through learning these things, you know, doing these things. And again on the monitoring and everything, yes, people have been trained to do methodology, they go they collect data, they show us, we then share it back to them, and it's really this iterative process of becoming researchers of own reality and it then generated a lot of spin off. Some young people said, we have now this capacity we've got to know other people, we are going to probably run at the next municipal elections, because we are unsatisfied by how the municipality is managing things, and now we have the confidence and the knowledge to do that. Others said ‘Oh, we have used that same process and exercise and conversation with our student groups at university for doing this and that.’
And so many other people have said ‘Okay I’m talking with my neighbours, and we want to do a similar initiative in an empty space within our space, so the good thing about creating these capacities and these relationships - what we call these human infrastructures - is that, then the impact that he has is unpredictable and generates lots of different things in different ways.
Next question: “How do you find the balance between needs an asset based approaches, how do you make sure that communities are getting the help they need without revelling in what Community lacks and how you ensure that their culture, identity, history is protected in the plans who are allowed to flourish to design.
So, I'm going to say just one sentence, and I think then Joanna can respond more on the design bit, but just to say, for example, this project.
Most of this staff is Lebanese staff who know the area incredibly well, has been working there for a lot of time. And the whole process is not by going there and saying, you know, there is a gap, there is a lack here; but it’s about starting a process, all together, where then people in this case, identify the number of vulnerabilities in that context.
And then they have identified the number of strengths and solutions that they could bring about and then they thought about how we can see these in the space. And I leave it to Joana now, to speak about these elements of design, culture and ethnicity, etc.
00:45:50 Joana Dabaj: Yes, actually what you said, Andrea. It is the process and even when we design it's a co-design process, so the ideas don't come from us. It comes from the people, they suggest what could address their needs, what could address these vulnerabilities that they just research and that they highlighted within their own communities. And we try to follow a very sensitive design process that is sensitive to the context. So, for us knowing the context, and knowing the people, and understanding the culture, understanding the value, is very important in order to come up with a design, that is a response to this context. So, we don't come with our preconceived ideas of what would work here, in fact, in all our design projects we always start by understanding the context very carefully.
When we're working with the children, we try to understand the children, the specific children, their diversity, as well, and try to develop the methodology according to this. So, this is a way to deal with that and also the fact that Catalytic Action team is formed of team members that are locally based, and the fact that we work with the local researchers/citizen scientists that are from the community itself, this is very important to ensure that we are responding to this sensitivity that you mentioned, I hope I answered that.
00:47:21 Andrea Rigon: We have another question from someone from the audience, on ethics. So, maybe it’s for you Joanna. “I like the idea of having children as full participants in processes and creations that directly impact or involve them, are there any ethical issues to deal with in this regard?’
00:47:43 Joana Dabaj: Yeah, mainly the key problem, here is safeguarding, which was also highlighted in the tool kit. Because working with children, you need to be very careful, you need to ensure that you have the consent of their parents, you need to ensure that you are really not trying to affect the children's lives in any way negatively, so we are really careful about the data we collect, about how we engage the children, training the facilitators who engage the children, so it obviously comes with a lot of careful considerations that we also discuss and the in the handbook, so you can find a lot more information on this bit in the handbook itself.
00:48:35 Andrea Rigon: And then we have a question from someone else: “Do you think it's possible to create a fully, completely inclusive space? How much do you think the importance of physical design of a space for it to be able to include people with different backgrounds, not only gender, age, his ability, but maybe, particularly their ethnicity, and making sure that it could increase their sense of belonging in the new site?”
And I think this is quite an interesting one, in the sense that, for my main answer, and the answer that we in joined work with the Catalytic Action is that you can't create an inclusive space, unless you have a deeply participatory process. So, again the design of the physical space is part of the design of a very detailed design brief that has been creating by residents and multiple iteration of this design explained to people and brought back to designing board.
But also, people that have to gain a certain spatial awareness spatial literacy to, and in order to be able to provide these the spatial design so is really about capacity building of residents in order to then be able to make spatial decisions.
And this requires a long process, but then, yes, it can have that inclusion of different ethnicity, in this case that that was a main point, including different nationalities, that in a city that was incredibly segregate.
And maybe for Joanna, another question: “How can such participatory design measures be more economical and timely, what would be some ways to increase participation in urban design without a hands-on intervention by the inhabitants?”
00:50:42 Joana Dabaj: Now, this is a very good question because sometimes the core design process is mainly challenged by how the partners don't want to spend more time and they just want to see the built product. So, what we do is we always work with whatever funding available, if we have to do like a built product, so we developed the participatory design phase, according to this.
And in the case of the Bar Elias, participatory intervention what really worked to make this longer process is to collaborate with the university. To make this into a longer and more comprehensive participation. So, to make it more economical, I think it depends like there's no one answer like it depends on the project itself and the timeline of the project and what do you want to achieve.
I can’t see the question anymore, so …
00:51:48 Andrea Rigon: Good answer, but I’ve got another one for you.
“How was the participation of the adults in the process -I think this refers more to the second project - help them to accept what the children propose, so more in the practice, more with children?”
00:52:10 Joana Dabaj: Yes, that is very important because engaging children is not only about engaging children alone, but also engaging their caregivers, including their parents, sometimes their sisters or their grandparents, and this is very important. One of the key aims of engaging children is for also the community to value their input to value their ideas and to start seeing children as active agents that their ideas matter, because at the end, they are the ones who are experts of their lives more than the adults.
These spaces are created with the children and by the children, and this is when they see us like as practitioners, working with the children and listening to them, this is also very important phase to or step to reach greater positive impacts from these projects. We sometimes create activities that include together the caregiver and the children in the same session and they through the dynamic of the sessions this can be achieved.
00:53:19 Andrea Rigon: And another question: “Often as architects, we want to build - how can we make spaces, inclusive, without necessarily building?”
Maybe just to say that a lot of the work that Catalytic Action does, and in these projects is really about bringing children, bringing families and people to spaces in activities to own those spaces, because most of the spaces where refugees play are not spaces that are built for children or children spaces, but they kind of occupy them and sometimes is about making the space, a little bit safer.
Or maybe getting everyone else accepting that those spaces are for children and sometimes you don't need to build a lot, you will be surprised how you know how little we build, even in the big intervention in Bar Elias. It is really about lots of little tweaking the space, and understanding how people are using the space. And involving lots of people. Do you want to add something on that, Joana?
00:54:31 Joana Dabaj: No, I think you said it all, because for us it's not about the built product alone, but it's more the process that leads up to the build product, so the process is what makes the spaces inclusive. So, it doesn't only matter on the built, but obviously building it and then building this intervention and then monitoring its use, and then seeing that we were able to achieve thes impacts afterwards is very important as well.
00:55:04 Andrea Rigon: Okay, and then we have a question from the audience: “How did you discount, prioritize or select the best ideas, where many are proposed in co-designing?”
Don’t know if you want to speak about Bar Elias, for example, Joana?
00:55:19 Joana Dabaj: Yes, actually. Translating ideas to design solution is a very important phase and the way we usually do it is that we have an open, transparent conversation from the beginning on what we could achieve and what we might not, especially limited by budget specification, in most cases. So, for example, I give an example that we always have with children when we do these activities, of course, they always suggest in most cases I would say, like a swimming pool, and most of the budgets we have were like small and we couldn't implement a swimming pool, so this kind of conversation come from the beginning, from the participatory assessment phase and we don't we try not to raise high expectation and tell them exactly like we discussed the budget, as I said when presenting the DeCID, we say like: We might not be able to implement everything because of budget restrictions so even in bed, it is, for example, they were suggesting having like a digital screen at the main entrance throat a better place where we can show like the name of the town and some characteristics what's happening, this week, but also, you know, like a notice board.
And during the workshop we discuss that probably we won't be able to do this. But what was really interesting is that we weren't able to do this, and it was through conversation that we decided that, and then a few months after, the municipality itself created like Cement entrance gate, having the name of the town at the beginning of the road. So, this also like was really interesting. So even if we didn't do it and respect it and did it in a different way, so yeah just wanted to give that example.
00:57:13 Andrea Rigon: So, I would like at this point to thank you all, we received many more questions that we couldn’t answer - we still have 13 question pending, but we will be really glad to address those in writing, so please do email us and we will get back to you with those answers all support some of those answer ever skimming through the questions are in the most extensive staff that we have been writing about both works and projects, so do check the decid website, the handbook is there in English and very soon, we will be uploading in Spanish and Arabic. There are documentaries that even give you a visual image of how we work with people of different things, there is a report about the working but alias with details of the methodologies how we created that spatial literacy that some of you is asking.
And all those details, so absolutely do if you are interested and want to know more do get in touch we always love our two year bill collaboration answer questions, so please reach out to those links and to those publication and materials and also we have reflecting much more in-depth on this project and other interesting projects in the book Inclusive Urban Development in the Global South. Intersectionality, inequalities and community by Routledge, so do do get those resources, and I really want to thank you all for these and particularly want to thank all the team at the Bartlett for setting up these events.
And everyone else who have been part of the project and to many other developers. In the project and you'll find all the names in the full publications that are there so once again thank you so much. Get in touch with us with your questions and we'll be happy to answer more of those.