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Using co-design to unearth community hidden assets


Project description

Our project aimed to find out how co-design and co-production could assist a community in identifying and unlocking hidden assets by themselves to create solutions that match their needs and aspirations in a sustainable and inclusive manner. The rationale was that communities can, with the right kind of support, identify and put their own assets to good use to create new possibilities. In this case, assets could be tangible or intangible (e.g. green space and friendship).

Our study was underpinned by the Asset-Based Community Development principles which begin with a self-mapping exercise to uncover assets in the community. The research revealed that the co-design and co-production approach could work in this context since it encouraged different stakeholders to work together, identify real problems, generate ideas, testing ideas with wider audiences, and implement ideas. Active engagement also helped build empathy and trust among all parties. The hands-on creative techniques employed in the co-design and co-production process have proven to be useful in providing a safe space for experiment with unconventional ideas and a level playing field for all stakeholders to contribute on an equal basis. 

The study revealed that people are often the most important assets in a community. Engaging people in a creative process, such as co-design and co-production could help them appreciated their skills, knowledge and creativity – this, in turn, has helped them recognise themselves as assets. The co-design of research and co-production of knowledge benefited both academic researchers and communities. Involvement in the project helped community partners build the capacity to undertake research using creative engagement activities and helped the academics gain confidence in working directly with communities.


Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Busayawan Lam - Dr Busayawan Lam is a senior lecturer and the Director of Teaching and Learning at Design Department. She specialises in the areas of New Product Development (NPD) process, Innovation Strategy and Management, and Design Strategy. She was trained in Industrial Design at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, and practiced as a product designer in a small-and-medium-sized exporter company in Thailand. She later obtained MSc Industrial Design at University of Salford and PhD Design Research at Brunel University London. She worked as a researcher at the National Metal and Materials Technology Centre (MTEC) Thailand. She has many years of experience studying user requirements, ascertaining design trends and recommending strategic design directions for a variety of organisations ranging from a domestic general hospital equipment producer to a global electronics company. Her current research interests include co-design, community-led design and social innovation.