Community Engagement for Social Inclusion


Participatory Project Design Lab

Participatory project design by Katy Wrathall via flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Beneficiary / Participants

Adults resident in deprived neighbourhoods.


Participatory Project Design is a method that aims to involve participants in processes of urban transformation through active project planning. The method gives value to local residents’ practices and initiatives and local solution proposals.

Description of the method

Participatory project design is a method to stimulate the process of visualising, planning and putting into practice ideas to improve the environment in which the participants live. Participatory project design also serves as an educational method: by facilitating different people working together, knowledge and visions are exchanged, and any issues arising from these different points of view are understood by the whole group. The overall process nurtures a sense of belonging by reinforcing the concept of community whilst individual and social development is also boosted. Participatory project design embraces the belief that the residents and users themselves are best placed to find solutions for their own territory and environment. Some examples of topics for discussion and actions could be: low-budget urban regeneration actions, urban gardens, educational projects for kids, waste reduction initiatives, different use of public spaces, multiculturalism, valuing local artisans, etc. This activity is aimed at residents or those who have participated in previous activities in the neighbourhood (e.g. workshops, urban exploration, urban memo, etc). Where possible, the facilitator or organisers should engage with municipal local department representatives and municipal services located in the neighbourhood of action (i.e bibliotheques, mediatheque, community centers) to increase long-term impact of the actions and reinforce local co-planning measures.

Project title Main objectives & expected results Main project actions Timeline of each project action Estimated budget of each action & resources Stakeholders for each action Desired change of each action
Project Planning Matrix example

How to

Project design: the facilitator organises the participants (maximum 12 people) into groups of 3. Participants then discuss a project idea they want to concretely apply in their local context. Ideas should be focused on facing an urban issue of the neighbourhood or on giving value to a local opportunity still not well exploited. The groups are assigned a real small budget to implement the actions and are requested to manage it with the support of the facilitator. The groups work for two hours on the project design using a simple project matrix and a neighbourhood map to identify the location of the actions. Each group is requested to work on a project structure including: title, main objectives, expected results, scheduled actions, timeline, local impact, resources, stakeholders to be involved and estimated budget. Participants willing to contribute to the project execution could indicate it together with their skillset (e.g. a woodworker willing to build a wood bench). Ideas for follow-up and cooperative maintenance of each project are also requested of each group by the trainer to boost the sustainability of the action (i.e. voluntaries and citizens recruitment, follow-up with local authorities and local stakeholders, etc.). The groups can construct a scale model of their idea together, using simple materials provided. The workshop concludes with each group presenting the ideas to the other participants where feedback to improve the ideas are collected in notebooks and on suggestion cards printed with keywords such as. children’s area, green space, community space, etc.

Project execution: after the workshop, each group has one week to independently finalise the project plan - organize how to implement, realize, disseminate and finally present the whole project plan. Budget details and project execution are discussed with facilitator for final approval. The facilitator is requested to be available for the whole week for projects support and suggestion. The facilitator must schedule at least two meetings with each group to evaluate the state of project advancement. The project model is displayed for the whole week in the community hub where the group have worked or in the public area of intervention in order to collect other citizens’ feedback in notebooks and on the suggestion cards.


The whole timeline is 5 hours workshop + one week of project execution.



The technique is inspired by Berlin Neighbourhood Management

participatory budgeting approach and Planning for Real®