Place Workshops

Workshops and meetings are key drivers to participatory design processes which assist us to deliver places for people.  

Place Creation, Lismore, NSW, AUS: workshop to produce Place ProposalsHere are some suggestions:

  • have a purpose, agenda, finish time and stick to it!
  • do you need a meeting or a workshop?
  • introductions
  • keep a record of discussion on butchers paper so people can see what is being recorded
  • have a seperate sheet for actions,etc
  • stay neutral or declare your interest
  • use different tools and techniques

Call Andrew Hammonds on (+617) 3102 1976 or  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Design workshops are effective tools at enabling participatory design. From 2 hours to 5 days the design team and client and stakeholders share pens to identify problems, analyse the site and produce design options.

With an experienced team to prepare and manage the process properly, they can produce endorsed options in a relatively short time-frames.

If you are going to collaborate make sure you action it.  The only thing worse than not collaborating is rhetoric rather than action.  This is just a time waster for all concerned and misleading.  

Whether you refer them as design workshops, enquiry by design or charrettes - it is often just a matter of preference.

Enquiry by design (UK)

Enquiry-by-Design workshops are used to bring together major stakeholders at one time and place to discuss, develop and draw possible urban design and planning solutions to specific, place-based problems. Through the workshop process, options are investigated interactively through design, debated, and illustrated to reach preferred outcomes. The actions needed to achieve the implementation of workshop outcomes are also identified in an implementation framework that can form the basis for ongoing action.  In addition, EBD workshops have a secondary purpose of taking participants on a learning journey about good urban design and planning..

Using the workshop process, options are investigated interactively to reach preferred outcomes. A summary of workshop outcomes is then documented in a framework that can form the basis of any ongoing action.  Enquiry-by-design workshops are typically non-binding. This encourages participants to think creatively, to step outside boundaries, and to provide the flexibility to consider and debate a wide range of options.

Charrette (USA)

Made popular by the New Urbanists, a charrette refers to a design process with stakeholders to develop solutions to a design problem within a limited timeframe.


Useful workshops for placemaking


An opportunity for project 'liftoff', through a two to four hour workshop to launch the project with the primary stakeholders. Key activities include - establish or confirm the direction of the project; identify precedents and identify key issues and strategies for resolution; and importantly, develop the 'big idea'.

Team Charter

A live document developed through a 2-3 hour workshop to cement a new team and confirm the platform for success. Pre-work investigates the performance of the team for discussion during the workshop. Documented outcomes include: team purpose; deliverables; team culture; communication; and logistics.

Vision Workshop

The development or refinement of the vision and principles often benefits from collective input. Pre-work on 'cap sheets' can assist in the brainstorming process to broaden stakeholders horizons.

Direction's workshop

A workshop which delivers in situations where there may be comprehensive background information already available. It combines presentations with small group discussion and feedback. Usually held over 3 to 5 hours this workshop informs participants and seeks their targeted input into new areas.

Issue's workshop

If there is a problem this workshop will fix it, through a combination of group and individual work. Typically a three to four hour workshop, which is based on the 'finding out' stage of a Value Management Workshop. Key outcomes include consensus on the project purpose, confirmation of the givens and assumptions, 'what's important and issue identification and the generation of creative ideas for their resolution.

Value Management Workshop

Value Management is the overall name given to a collection of specific principles, techniques and practices which have been proven effective in maximising value. Value Management (VM) is applied across a wide range of industries and organisations in a variety of countries, where it may also be known as Value Analysis, Value Engineering etc. It is the structured analysis of function which sets Value Management apart from other approaches to problem solving and improving value.

Value Management is a structured, analytical process which seeks to satisfy "customer" needs by ensuring that all necessary functions are provided at the lowest total cost, while maintaining the required levels of quality and performance - in other words, to maximise value.

Value Management utilises a structured intensive facilitated workshop of representative stakeholders as embodied in AS 4183-2007: Value Management.

Peer review

Peer review of proposal by experts involving a short presentation and active discussion/debate.

Six Thinking Hats

'Six Thinking Hats' is a powerful technique that helps you look at important decisions from a number of different perspectives. It helps you make better decisions by forcing you to move outside your habitual ways of thinking. As such, it helps you understand the full complexity of the decision, and spot issues and opportunities to which you might otherwise be blind. This tool was created by Edward de Bono in his book '6 Thinking Hats'.

Many successful people think from a very rational, positive viewpoint. This is part of the reason that they are successful. Often, though, they may fail to look at a problem from an emotional, intuitive, creative or negative viewpoint. This can mean that they underestimate resistance to plans, fail to make creative leaps and do not make essential contingency plans.

Similarly, pessimists may be excessively defensive, and more emotional people may fail to look at decisions calmly and rationally.

If you look at a problem with the 'Six Thinking Hats' technique, then you will solve it using all approaches. Your decisions and plans will mix ambition, skill in execution, sensitivity, creativity and good contingency planning.

Landing Pad

Review of the project outcomes from the rational, emotional, intuitive, creative or critical perspective, within a safe environment for open discussion.

The following design process can be enhanced by participatory design techniques and tools.

There are consultants who specialise in facilitating workshops.

NZ’s Urban Design Toolkit provides the following tools to encourage community Involvement and Informing Initiatives:

  • Community Meeting

  • Design Workshop

  • Focus Group

  • Interactive Display

  • Interactive Model

  • Participatory Appraisal

  • Planning and Briefing Workshops

  • Reference Group

  • Scenario Building

  • Urban Design Games

Additional Information

The Charrette Handbook, National Charrette Institute, United States.

This handbook provides a step-by-step guide to a successful charrette and offers practical tips on everything from pre-charrette preparations to project implementation.

The Community Planning Website

Provides principles, methods, scenarios, formats, checklists and a range of publications on community planning.

The Enquiry-by-Design Workshop Process – A Preparation Manual:

A manual on the process of preparing for, and holding, an enquiry by design workshop produced by the Western Australia Planning Commission 2003.

Place Training

We are currently developing online and face to face training sessions for Place facilitation please contact us for more information.

Back to Place Tools



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