Research Assistant: Inclusive Design for Inclusive SpacesSemester Course

Major Discipline(s)
Architecture, Urban Design, Urban Studies
Elective Course
Fall/Spring semester

In the field of urban planning and design, there is increasing interest in participatory design processes and inclusive spaces. However, little empirical research has been done on the results of participatory design models, i.e. who is ultimately engaging with the final design, or on the participatory process itself as a catalyst for trust and empathy. Public spaces can unintentionally exclude certain groups and activities and prioritize others. The design of the public realm thus has the potential to reinforce divides between social groups as well as inequalities, but also the potential to nourish ties between social groups and increase social cohesion and trust, depending on the process by which they are designed.

This research project explores the relationship between participatory design in public spaces and the diversity of public life these spaces attract. The objective of the research is to support cities in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere in better understanding how the public realm can act as a form of social glue – encouraging mixing, trust, and empathy between the many groups that make up a city. The research includes an ideation process and physical implementation at Basargrunden by Nørrebro station. This site lies at the intersection of two of the most culturally, racially, and socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods in Denmark: Nørrebro and Nordvest. Temporary interventions inform the permanent design of the space, and offer a unique opportunity to study the relationship between inclusivity in the design process and the diversity of public life.

This research requires a diverse approach. Hence, the position is open to anyone with an academic background within architecture and design, the social sciences, or the behavioral sciences. The work is interdisciplinary and we are looking for perspectives and/or skill sets that add to and contribute to ours.

Related Discipline(s)

This course would also be of interest to the following discipline(s):


Joshua Morrison

DIS Copenhagen Semester Faculty

Josh Morrison is a landscape architect and urban designer educated at the Massachussets Institute of Technology School of Architecture (MCP) and the University of Copenhagen (MLA, ongoing). He did his undergraduate studies at Brown University and RISD. He is currently managing director at Fundament Design and previously worked for the World Bank, MIT, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Gehl Architects. He specializes in the design of communities and public spaces, with a particular interest in how built form affects social interaction and quality of life. With DIS since 2016.

Bettina Werner

DIS Copenhagen Semester Faculty

M.A. (Applied Cultural Analysis, Copenhagen University, 2016). B.A. (Political Philosophy, Uppsala University, Sweden, with a minor in Indigenous Studies, UNSW, Australia). Co-founder of COurban design collective. Previously worked as a researcher and project manager at urban design firm, CITITEK. Projects include data collection, research, co-creation of playgrounds and public space, interior spatial analysis of office environments, and educational seminars with both state and private clients. With DIS since 2016.