Developing Collaborative Design Tools
Submitting InstitutionLancaster University
Unit of AssessmentArt and Design: History, Practice and Theory
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Information and Computing Sciences: Information Systems
Built Environment and Design: Design Practice and Management
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
Summary of the impact
Cruickshank's interdisciplinary research challenges the role of the
professional designer and celebrates the potential of the
citizen-designer. Insights from the research have developed a series of
tools that facilitate design-creativity in the non-specialist. The
research demonstrates that technology can be an enabler for the
non-professional, impacting on design methods and their implementation.
The process of developing the research has had a direct impact through
significantly improving the consultation and design activities of the City
and County Councils in Lancaster (with potential for scaling this up to
other local authorities) and shaped the potential development of a
10-hectare city-centre green space over a 10-year period.
Cruickshank's research explores how to enable everyone to maximise their
potential to creatively contribute to society. Through this he challenges
the nature of design practice, the role of the designer and that of the
non-designer in creative collaboration.
This research into the `design of knowledge exchange' is a form of
human-to-human interaction. Exploring the experiences of participants in
the design process has dramatically improved the potential of creative
collaboration. The research produced insights (published in Design
Issues, an A-rated design research journal) on the relationship
between design and innovation.
Drawing on design and management theory to develop new approaches
(Morttati & Cruickshank 2012), this research required non-academic
participants and test-beds in non-specialist environments to establish its
value. The result has been a powerful interaction between academic
researchers engaging creatively with non-academic partners.
Cruickshank's activity in this area has included involvement in projects
totalling over £25 million since joining Lancaster University in 2007.
Cruickshank's role in all of these projects focuses on the design,
implementation and evaluation of new knowledge exchange processes and
specifically on how new tools can be developed to assist in collaborative
innovation and creativity. Using non-hierarchal collaborative methods as a
foundation for this, activities include:
- Designing the cross-cultural innovation programme (for the HEFCE
funded Lancaster China Catalyst Programme to foster innovation between
UK and China)
- Designing tools and processes to help knowledge exchange between Arts
and Humanities academics and companies (The Creative Exchange, AHRC
Knowledge Exchange Hub)
- New processes for engagement in a project on citizen-led innovation in
digital media (CaTalyST: Citizens Transforming Society (Tools for
Change), EPSRC funded)
- Applying new thinking in innovation and knowledge exchange directly
with companies, using the 300 company strong network centred around
Daresbury Science and Innovation campus (IDEAS at Daresbury, ERDF
- Developing new approaches for knowledge exchange aimed at developing
digital and physical tools and innovative knowledge exchange (New IDEAS,
- Investigating co-design as an innovative knowledge exchange mechanism
for community engagement in the planning process (PROUD: People
Researchers and Organisations Using Design, INTERREG funded).
These projects fund a wide range of activity and tool design. The case
study presented here takes just one aspect of one of these projects as an
example of the impact this theory/engagement approach is having, and its
potential for further use. The case study looks at the PROUD project and
as part of this a local co-design challenge. The research involved
co-design as a community process and its implementation and testing on a
planning development around Lancaster Castle. For Lancaster University,
this challenge was called `Beyond the Castle' (hereafter abbreviated to
BTC), and framed in our wider research project, `building collaborative
References to the research
• Cruickshank, L (forthcoming, 2014) Open Design and Open Innovation:
facilitating creativity in everyone. Gower Publishing.
• Cruickshank, L & Coupe, G (2013) Beyond the Castle: Public
Space Co-Design, a Case Study and Guidelines for Designers, The
Design Research Journal (in press)
• Cruickshank, L., Whitham, R & Morris, L (2012) Innovation
Through the Design of Knowledge Exchange and The Design of Knowledge
Exchange Design. Leading Innovation Through Design: DMI 2012
International Design Management Research Conference, Boston 2012.
• Cruickshank, L & Evans, M (2011) Designing Creative Frameworks:
Design Thinking as an Engine for New Facilitation Approaches, Int.
Journal of Arts and Technology, Vol. 4, No. 4.
• Cruickshank, L (2010) The Innovation Dimension: Designing in a
Broader Context. Design Issues, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 17-26.
• PROUD: People, Researchers and Organisations Using Design for
Co-creation and Innovation. EU (INTEREG), PI Institution: BrainPort
Eindhoven (Cruickshank UK lead), 2011-14, €4.8 million.
Details of the impact
Activities Leading to Impact
Beyond the Castle (BTC) is a key component of the PROUD INTERREG funded
BTC developed new co-design processes and tools to improve a wild, green
space within 5 minutes' walk of Lancaster City centre. Using interaction
design, Cruickshank and 6 designers ran BTC from May to November 2012 (link).
They held 5 major events (active collaboration/idea generation) for over
700 participants, with a further 2,100 local residents attending
The initiative was supported in the regional media, and featured in the
Lancashire Evening Post, Lancaster Guardian; Lancaster University online
news and web site; Radio Lancashire; Bay Radio and a 3 page article in
@Lancaster magazine and online.
Impact from processes:
The processes developed for BTC changed council consultation and
co-design activities. As a public realm officer at the council noted, `before
(BTC) we would have spoken to people and done a questionnaire, now we'd
do an activity on site to draw people in.' The paradigm shift for
the Council `is a whole new way of trusting people'. Cruickshank
and his team are designing and implementing tools for day-to-day use by
council staff. These range from digital resources aimed at teenagers with
smart phones, to tools that can be used in any context where idea
generation is needed to improve local outcomes. From early 2013 these
tools have been used for various projects by Lancaster Council, resulting
in c.900 citizen-participants every month. The approach has also been
disseminated through a major HEFCE funded programme that compliments the
Lancaster China Catalyst Project.
Impact on the Design Profession
BTC provides a model for professional designers to facilitate open, mass
creativity without sacrificing quality or workability of approach. BTC has
contributed to this area of research by establishing 8 fundamental
principles of co-design (see Cruickshank & Coupe 2013). These formed
the basis for sessions for design professionals in the Netherlands,
Belgium and Luxemburg, and a keynote at the conference Kick Off Co-Design:
Let's Design Together
at Dutch Design Week 2012.
These principles challenged the norms of co-design; but it is the quality
of outcomes from BTC which has proved the most persuasive factor in
shifting debate. BTC Master classes led to the initiation of the Co-Design
Café series in Eindhoven (link).
`The co-design masterclasses by Leon Cruickshank were received with
great enthusiasm in Eindhoven, the interactive approach he designed
helped designers quickly and energetically adopt the co- design
principles that give designers of services or social design projects (as
well as many other design processes) a good basis to act upon. This
helps designers to take up a new kind of assignment that needs active
participation of future users in order to achieve optimal and
sustainable outcomes' Project Manager Capital D, Eindhoven.
Cruikshank's research has also lead to the redesign of the post-it for
group collaboration and this `hexagon tool' is now commercially available.
Impact from Co-design Ideas Generated
From numbers of participants, depth of engagement, and innovation,
Lancaster City Council has reported there has never been a consultation
project in the city to match BTC. The breadth and high quality outcomes of
the process are both powerful and useful to local Councils; even more so
as the current political context requires they re-structure priorities,
and perhaps in the process create a less hierarchical, more collaborative
approach to urban development. In addition, as community engagement is a
prerequisite to heritage and lottery funding, BTC has laid the foundation
for a multi-million heritage lottery funding bid.
BTC has ensured the local community are involved in the development of
the city's castle area for the next 10 years. The results of the co-design
process are accepted as the design brief for the City and County Councils;
it is also being used for tendering documents for master-planners, which
will plan for the space beyond 2020. This was achieved because the ideas
produced by the communities and citizens involved were, in the words of a
Senior Planner: Regeneration at the city council `quite a wow to see
the depth and breadth of the work that's been going on and the
engagement with the local community.' In the final exhibition over
120 people designed a solution for some of the issues and ideas documented
in the 1100 ideas from previous BTC events.
The research in this case study connects innovation in design processes,
interaction design practice, design and management theory to ensure direct
impact and benefit with potential at regional, national and international
levels. The adoption of these tools by individuals, companies and the
public sector will embed this impact into everyday practice, in the case
of BTC for at least the next 10 years.
Sources to corroborate the impact
- Beyond the Castle — Imagining the Future. Project Report. ISBN
978-1-86220-301-3. Documentation of Beyond the Castle activities
(extensive photographic evidence of activity in communities) http://imagination.lancs.ac.uk/activities/Beyond_Castle
- Interview Transcript, Senior Public Realm Officer,
Lancaster City Council
- Interview Transcript, Senior Environmental Projects Officers,
Environment and Communities Project Team, Lancashire County
- (2012) Out of the Dark. Castle's macabre past holds key to bright new
future. Lancaster Guardian, 16th August 2012. p.1. (Attests
to how the Beyond the Castle team have engaged with Lancaster residents
to re-imagine the area around Lancaster castle and the potential impact
- (2012) Ideas to help re-shape historic city centre site. Lancashire
Evening Post, 06 September 2012, p.16. http://www.lep.co.uk/news/local/ideas-to-help-re-shape-historic-city-centre-site-1-4900609
- (2012) City interested in your vision. Morecambe Visitor, 18th
September 2012. p.21.
(Attests to the engagement of the project with Lancaster residents
through a participatory workshop).
- (2012) Ideas flood in for Beyond the Castle. Lancashire Evening Post,
08 November 2012. http://www.lep.co.uk/news/local/ideas-flood-in-for-beyond-the-castle-1-5104380
- HUNTER, E. (2012), Beyond the Castle. @Lancaster Magazine, 01 November
2012. p.56-7. http://issuu.com/atlancaster/docs/_lancasternov12web
- GIBSON, R. (2013), Beyond the Castle. Business Matters Magazine,
March-April 2013. p.4. http://www.lancaster-chamber.org.uk/download/download.pdf