We’re halfway through our series of 13 CPD seminars ‘Where people live: Tools for engaging communities in the design process’ that we’re delivering for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) across England, and I’d like to share some of the learning so far.
In our 2.5hr seminar we’ve engaged architects in Nottingham, Gateshead, London, Cambridge, Leeds and Birmingham, sharing our knowledge and case studies as well as inviting hands-on contributions from participants through group workshops and conversations.
One of our aims for the seminar series is to create a platform for architects to share their experiences and knowledge with their peers, and we invite you (architect or not!) to share toolkits and resources which will be added to a growing collection of useful links and documents.
Although many challenges and opportunities are very similar across the board, it’s been clear that local differences exist. Challenges around politics interfering with good design and engagement processes appear to have a distinctly local flavour, whereas challenges around clients providing sufficient budgets for community engagement seem very real around the country.
A key issue emerging repeatedly is that the value of community engagement to the design and planning process isn’t always recognised. Through our conversations, we have together uncovered many ways in which architects on the ground are successfully creating value in their projects, through thoughtful and meaningful activities and methods, and I feel confident that there is a lot of resource and desire to make the most of contributions from clients and communities.
Another key point to emerge is the importance of integrity in community engagement, revolving around:
• Clear communications around the process of engagement
• Setting clear boundaries for the project’s limitations and opportunities
• Delivering the investment in people and process that is agreed and communicated
We look forward to meeting you in Reading, Bath, Crawley, Exeter, Cardiff, Manchester in Liverpool over the next few months. For more on RIBA’s CPD click here.