Design thinking for placemaking.

It might seem the most logical thing - to apply the test cycle process of DESIGN THINKING, with its focus on responding to and understanding needs, to the design of places - but this is very rarely the focus with which we design and construct the spaces and places we live.

The design thinking model starts with empathy.

Empathy for the ‘user’, both human and environmental, and for a particular place or context. Yet what drives the design of most places? That bottom line : economics. Someone is paying for this after all!

But what if we can use the design thinking model to empathise, understand, then develop ideas and prototypes, which are tested and then iterated, to create






We think that would become pretty sustainable, and also really exciting!

Next week we are running a workshop over two days at ESALA working with landscape architecture students to explore how these concepts can help to shape a tool for bringing together the ethics of design thinking with an aim to enable greater use of outdoor spaces as effective learning opportunities.

We hope the students will take the prototype we’ve developed so far – which has arisen from an analysis of the needs and aspirations of learners and teachers – and really test it as the students take on personas. The first stage is to empathise, getting under the skin of that specific person’s needs.

Through the workshops, we’re hoping a new generation of placemakers is inspired by how this applies to landscape architecture, and takes forward these emerging concepts into practice.

This is part of the Settings for Learning project, developed in conjunction with, and supported by, Architecture + Design Scotland.