Community Engagement for Social Inclusion


Urban Sketches. A digital storytelling format for participated place narratives

Beneficiary / Participants

This is a collaborative process, aimed at engaging citizens of any age and background in producing and publishing audiovisual narrative archives. It uses simple digital tools, readily accessible to the public, providing training on how to produce simple and effective videos and publish them online in dedicated collections.


Urban Sketches is a digital storytelling format developed by Tesserae to create short place narratives able to capture impressions, anecdotes or emotions about a given local context. The audio-visual co-production methodology engages small groups of participants to reflect on their territory, and their place within it. The methodology focuses on employing simple and effective audiovisual languages allowing non-skilled people to clearly communicate their knowledge or understanding of a place. Urban Sketches workshops are created to complement spatial assessment processes with collections of personal observations, to investigate local memories or to document transformations and conflicts. The use of widely available devices and software is favoured in order to support the greatest inclusiveness and give a voice to underrepresented subjects. Urban Sketches methodology can be integrated with Urban Memo, Urban Reconnaissance, collaborative mapping and other participative techniques to build multi-media archives and local atlases.

Description of the method

The Urban Sketches workshop is based on conceiving, designing and producing a short video clip describing local identities and capturing memories with images recorded and/or edited by the participants. An Urban Sketches workshop consists of five phases that may assume different relevance according to the purpose of the lab and the participants’ skills:

Definition / Exploration / Scripting / Production / Post-Production

Through the different phases the group designs a cognitive process that includes setting objectives; exploring a spatial context from a personal point of view; structuring a personal narrative and script-writing it; producing or assembling images and sound necessary to express it; editing it in the form of an effective narrative; publishing it online as part of a collection. The whole process has the added benefit of improving the personal capacity to deliver effective audiovisual contents and to produce a collective reflection/learning process about a given socio-spatial context. The Urban Sketches method can also be easily adapted to the purpose of collecting personal memories skipping the exploration phase.

How to

  1. Definition: min 2 hrs The first session defines the scope of the workshop and language and outputs that need to be produced. Here the participants identify the existing skills within the group, and those skills that need to be developed for the outcomes. They will discuss and agree on the specific focus of the storytelling project; the geographical area of focus; the rules of exploration and collection of the materials; the audiovisual style, length and language to be adopted; the channels for publication and dissemination of the final products.

  2. Exploration: min. 1h.30m The participants explore the focus area and identify one place/ element/story they want to tell. They can take notes using digital photography, audio, video or written notes to capture elements they find significant. They are free to collect as many images and ideas as they wish.

  3. Scripting: min 2 h The participants draft a simple script defining the main elements of the story they want to tell. The script is based on a simple archetypal structure (4 moments, X key elements, 1 thread, X minutes). The script is developed in a storyboard using a presentation software (Prezi, Power Point), which allows the collective discussion.

  4. Production: individual work + 30 min personal tutoring for each participant The missing materials to realise the script is filmed, or existing audio-visual materials are collected and formatted to be assembled. The participants can also collect interviews, scan paper documents, or download stock images available in the commons.

  5. Post-Production: 2h collective explanation + personal tutoring for each participant The script drafted as a presentation is turned into an audiovisual clip made up of text, images and sounds using editing software, and finally published online and included in a dedicated collection.


3 to 5 meetings to deliver a finalised set of videos online


The basic equipment required includes smartphones, tablet or computers able to manage digital content. According to the specific focus of the workshop, the technical realisation may include the use of high definition equipment and develop higher quality standard of the image rather than focusing on the facilitation of participative processes and the inclusion of less skilled users. Video projector is needed during the collective sessions.