The Levels of Citizen Engagement in Urban Development

Renita Niemi, Helena Sustar, Anne Kokkonen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperScientific


Urban development has been studied in recent years, e.g. from the social, economic, ecological, and cultural point of view. However, little investigation has been targeted on citizen engagement with the co-design methods of urban development. Co-design methods can direct and cultivate habitants’ interests and, as a result of these methods, more suitable places to live can be created. The co-design is a joint planning process between experts and users. The basic elements in co-design are: participators, purpose, methods, and aim to enable change. An important character of the engagement is the level of power that participants possess in the co-design intervention. Arnstein (1969) defined an eight-level typology to measure the degree of power that a citizen can acquire when participating in the co-design activity. With the research question “What kind of power citizens had in urban development projects when they were engaged with co-design methods?” in mind we analysed five international case studies with the Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen participation. At first, the cases were searched and selected based on the co-design methods used to engage the citizen in urban development projects. These cases were then adequately described regarding the adopted co-design methods. The results indicate an increase in awareness and understanding of engaging citizens with the co-design process in the urban development and diverse intentions are benefited from different levels of citizens’ power in the co-design process.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2015
EventInternational European Academy of Design Conference - Paris, France
Duration: 22 Apr 201524 Apr 2015
Conference number: 11


ConferenceInternational European Academy of Design Conference
Abbreviated titleEAD
Internet address


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