Wisdom of the Crowd: How Participatory Design has evolved Design Briefing

  • Emma Murphy Lancaster University, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, United Kingdom
  • David Hands Lancaster University, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, United Kingdom


This case example has discussed the significant and important role of the residents in determining a new all embracing vision for the Royds estates, that not only aims to reduce crime but to create a social and environmentally sustainable future for the residents.

Firstly, the input of Stephen Town, Architectural Liaison Officer, has been considerable in terms of driving consultation and the engagement of residents; secondly, Tony Dylak, Director of Royds Housing Association, his vision and ability to listen and support the wishes of the residents has been immense. Combined, it is suggested that the design briefing stages was the catalyst for change and the mutual sharing of vision.

The design briefing process provided a platform for all stakeholders to envision a future for the estates, providing a common ground for residents, the police, housing authorities and architects to meet, discuss and implement the wishes of everyone that embraces a crime-reduced future.

Referring back to the central focus of this paper, the 5 key drivers for participatory engagement are clearly explicit within the case discussion.

Firstly, the designer’s role within the initial briefing stages embraced a wider remit of responsibility. They carefully orchestrated a series of planned events to both appeal and entice the residents to the consultation ‘roadshows’.

Secondly, with the opportunity to meaningfully participate and be an equal part of the consultation process, the residents responded wholeheartedly to expressing their requirements and ambitions to reinforce positive changes within the design and development process. As such, this then leads us to the issue of blurring boundaries between the various domains of knowledge, which traditionally remained distinctly separate and isolated. With the erosion of these perceived ‘boundaries’ by the residents, they actively engaged through all stages of the project duration, often contributing specialist knowledge and experiential understanding of complex design considerations.


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How to Cite
Murphy, E. and Hands, D. (2016) “Wisdom of the Crowd: How Participatory Design has evolved Design Briefing”, Swedish Design Research Journal, 8(2), pp. 28-37. doi: 10.3384/svid.2000-964X.12228.
Research articles