We're excited to have Uula Saastamoinen working with the HERE+NOW team for the next 4 weeks. Uula is originally from Finland but studied for his MA Hon Geography in Edinburgh where he became interested in place-making.  Uula is joining us to learn more about the co-design processes we use in all our design, place-making and landscape architecture projects before he goes on to study a Masters in Landscape Architecture. Uula will be learning about different aspects of the work we do each week for the next 4 weeks and will be writing a series of blogs about his experiences and learnings.  Welcome Uula! 



Hi everyone! I am working with HERE+NOW for a few weeks to learn more about co-design in landscape architecture, which is of great interest to me.

As it is my first week, I have been researching different practices for co-design and place-making from around the world. I've learned that when the locals are at the centre of the process, the solutions are often very cost-effective, as they can be targeted appropriately.

Some of the innovative tactics I've found for engaging with the locals in the initial planning process include:

  • Park Hack; cubes which were installed to a park in Shoreditch, allowing the locals to go inside and write and draw to the walls what kind of changes they would want to see in the park. Data was collected over three weeks, and the process is very democratic as everyone can engage with the cubes on their own time. This was also the most cost-effective way, given the limited budget. 
  • Memory-sharing, either by using an online platform where people can share images and stories of their favourite place, organising actual gatherings where people can share stories, or a combination of both (e.g. an exhibition of photos taken by the people).

One of the things that I also regularly noticed in my research was that one of the challenges to overcome in co-design can be a lack of trust between the locals and planners, and the fact people are not used to being part of the planning process. Ways to get people excited before the actual co-design charrettes might include things like leafletting, or using social media in co-operation with local community groups. Reaching different age groups (who all use spaces in different ways) is also crucial.

All in all, I was delighted to see so many creative strategies being used globally, and I can’t wait to learn more about co-design during my time with HERE+NOW.

- Uula


Image credit: Project for Public Spaces