Spacemaker is a mobile application that engages young citizens in urban planning processes by raising awareness of urban change and creating opportunities for participation through contextual experiences.
In this project, I am exploring technological opportunities such as augmented reality (AR) to create a culture of participation on the go and provide flexible and engaging ways for people to participate in planning processes. Consequently, I am exploring methods to involve a broader range of people, focusing primarily on digital natives among city residents. In doing so, I developed a framework based on the concept of contextual and location-based experiences in order to see if mobile devices can serve as a gateway to more meaningful participatory methods.
Rather than replacing traditional methods, the project is intended to serve as a complement to traditional participation methods by providing an engaging, flexible, and easy entry point to participatory planning opportunities.
A sign in the city draws attention to the urban design change at the location in question and encourages citizens to participate in the project. A low barrier to entry for participation is provided by simply scanning the attached app clip code, followed by exploring the planned proposal via AR and submitting the preferred choice with only a few clicks.
The spacemaker app provides a detailed overview of ongoing projects and opportunities to participate in further projects. It also serves as a platform to engage in discussions with the municipality and other citizens.
Participatory urban planning is seen as an important aspect of developing local democracy. With city-users being co-owners of the city and providing valuable knowledge from a non-experts perspective for the municipalities about how the city is experienced, it is widely accepted that residents themselves should be more involved in the processes of shaping their urban environment.
In order to involve city-users in local planning processes, there has been a recent shift away from traditional, analog practices toward the use of technological means. However, the current implementation of digital tools, which is primarily limited on the desktop, is still either unsuitable or cumbersome for many people. During my research I observed that these traditional practices got mainly replicated as digital platforms instead of rethinking participatory methods in general. This is one of the main causes which lead to the fact that the same homogenous group of people remain involved and committed to these projects. The efforts of the municipalities to integrate especially young people in such processes, who so far represent an absolute minority, still remains an unresolved challenge. And that's where Spacemaker comes in.