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Design for social sustainability. A reflection on the role of the physical realm in facilitating community co-design

Calvo, Mirian; De Rosa, Annalinda


Mirian Calvo

Annalinda De Rosa


Understanding the environmental conditions that shape the physical support for developing social sustainability requires analysing the symbiotic relationship of people and place. Place is considered an essential aspect in shaping social identity, identification and cohesion. Thus, this paper explores the role of the physical realm in enabling co-design practices within community initiatives. It outlines two PhD research projects focused on strengthening community engagement using co-design approaches. It evidences its findings analysing two different settings. Firstly, a PhD research project exploring the mutual influences between spatial and service design also through the investigation of public spaces as platforms for strategic interventions with experimentations in the urban fabric of Milan (Italy). Secondly, a doctoral research exploring the value of community co-design on rural areas in the Highlands and Islands (Scotland) associated with Leapfrog, a three-year-funded project by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Conducted by two different research teams, we analyse to what extent participatory processes can strengthen communities and their identities, as well as reflecting on place-based approaches for design strategies of territories.


Calvo, M., & De Rosa, A. (2017). Design for social sustainability. A reflection on the role of the physical realm in facilitating community co-design. Design Journal, 20(sup1), S1705-S1724.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 9, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 6, 2017
Publication Date 2017
Deposit Date Sep 14, 2018
Journal The Design Journal
Print ISSN 1460-6925
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue sup1
Pages S1705-S1724
Keywords design for social innovation, social sustainability, co-design, design activism, design ethnography
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