Redesigning Design for Positive Social Impact

Redesigning design for positive social impact – Trained as a landscape architect, Lucinda Hartley, spent two years working in slum communities in Vietnam and Cambodia before launching Community Oriented Design — [co]design studio. Selected as a 2010 Youth Action Net Global Fellow, Lucinda has been focusing on how young people can be engaged and mobilized to improve cities and space through community oriented design. Lucinda’s commitment to sustainable design has been recognised by awards from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), Asialink Dunlop Fellowship and the internationally competitive Endeavour Executive Award. Moreover in 2009 she was profiled in FuturARC Magazine as one of the top 30 design sustainability pioneers in Asia-Pacific.

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CoDesign Studio is a social enterprise that works with communities to design and implement neighbourhood improvement projects. They create new types of public spaces – from community gardens and public furniture, to parks, schools, community facilities, housing and broad-scale planning strategies.

They value social outcomes as much as physical outcomes. Working with people of all ages and backgrounds, their process focuses on positivity, shared values, practical action, and meaningful relationships.

CoDesign Studio’s mission is creating inclusive and empowered neighborhoods. They aim to empower communities to become involved in visioning, shaping, owning and implementing projects that improve neighborhoods. CoDesign exists to address social exclusion by revitalizing neighborhoods. Social exclusion affects people in every town and city. Disadvantaged neighborhoods typically have poorer quality public spaces, and people are therefore less safe and less healthy.

Floating Gardens, Cambodia: CoDesign Studio is working with Cambodian organisations Agile Development Group and Rural Friends for Community Development to design floating vegetable gardens for floating villages on Lake Tonle Sap. Village residents do not own land, and therefore cannot grow vegetables. Many families eat vegetables only once per week, with obvious health impacts. Image credit: CoDesign Studio

Their approach moves away from over-reliance on government and service providers as the sole provider of public infrastructure, and instead focuses on people. They specialize in working with ‘hard to reach’ communities: people who face barriers to traditional methods of engagement, and therefore require a different approach. CoDesign focuses on low-cost, high-impact activities and interventions for improving neighborhoods. Outcomes improve both the physical environment, through better parks, accessibility, and safety, while also the social environment, by building social cohesion and giving communities a forum to gain the skills and confidence they need to create change.

Text source: CoDesign Studio
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