In response to problems of neoliberal urbanism agenda, Lefebvre (1991) argued for a 'right to the city' so that more people are involved in the (re-) production of urban spaces (Purcell 2002). The challenge being to translate this ‘right’ into practice particularly to involve ‘hard-to- reach’ groups such as young people. With growing use of technology in participation, visualization techniques are gaining currency. But what is missing is an important consideration of the ‘environment’, where these approaches are applied and particularly in how/whether shared learning and visioning is possible. I argue in this commentary that ‘constructivist learning environments (Savery and Duffy 2001) has the potential, both as theory and method, to frame the characteristics of ‘virtual spaces of participation’, where children and young people can critically assess and re-design the spaces in the ‘real’ world. The CLE space marks departure from current understanding and argues instead that: (1) ‘expertise’ should reside in the participants (in this case, young people) at all levels and that enablers (such as urban designers, architects, planning consultants etc.) ought to only ‘enable’ the activity; (2) the spaces where conventional participatory approaches unfold e.g. a community hall should give way to those ‘relational spaces’ (such as an IT suite) where young people take on the role of experts – this is where gaming software such as Minecraft have potential and which would prevent ‘enablers’ of participatory workshops, in providing an a priori blueprint as to how design needs to be carried out by the participants. Policy makers can use this innovative framework for developing for instance ‘child-friendly cities’ or ‘youth master plans’ as part of regeneration initiatives.
Gopinath, D. (in press). Designing ‘youth master plans’ in a CLE space: Lessons from using Minecraft in secondary school outreach project in Scotland. International Journal of Society Systems Science,