The voice of youth; responsibility, innovation and participation in urban design

The complexities of contemporary urban challenges highlight the importance of the interface of culture & ecology. 21st century systems infrastructure (which support the maintenance of urban environments) have allowed human beings to [collectively] become a geological agent (Chakrabarty 2008) threatened with a shared catastrophe.

In this context, our most pressing challenges require behaviour change at the collective, systems level. This includes the process and approach to designing physical urban fabric, as well as the social infrastructure, which underpins cultural life, social amenities, and systems for citizen engagement and participation. Evidence demonstrates that giving residents the opportunity to take part in collective activities that influence the areas in which they live ‐ contribute to the wellbeing of residents and communities.

Such strategies operate consistently alongside those, which seek to promote and support resilience in urban communities, grow social capital (Putnam) and simultaneously promote opportunities for engaging citizens in decision-making (Grattan Institute: ‘Cities, Who Decides’ 2010). In response to these issues, contemporary cultures of urban decision making and emerging recognition of the impact that more participatory forms of governance have upon the design of a socially inclusive urban fabric.

The extent to which children & young people are engaged in the decisions which affect their lives and determine their futures is important. Contextualised by International examples of design led engagement, reflected in particular upon recent experiences of the author as Engagement Leader for 5000+, (a National pilot project creating an Integrated Design Strategy for Adelaide Australia) and the opportunities and benefits which emerged through engaging children and young people in discussion about our urban future.

Dr Angelique Edmonds is a Lecturer at the University of South Australia, where she teaches in both Architecture & Sustainable Design programs and supervises Masters & PhD research. She spoke on this topic at last year’s International Urban Design Conference. Dr Edmonds is a former member of the National Sustainability Committee of the Australian Institute of Architects, Chapter Councillor in South Australia and a current Design Review chair and panellist with ODASA (the Office for Design and Architecture, South Australia).

The 6th International Urban Design Conference will be held at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park from Monday the 9th to Wednesday 11th of September 2013.  Keynote speakers include Mrs Lucy Hughes Turnbull AO, Businesswoman and Company Director, Turnbull & Partners Limited, Mr Henry Ergas, Senior Economic Adviser, Deloitte Australia & Professor of Infrastructure Economics, Mr Gordon Price – Director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, CANADA and many, many more.  Registration is open click here to attend the 2013 event.

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