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Participation, Co-Creation, and Public Space


A central notion in urban design, urban interaction design, and placemaking is the user of public space, the occupant, resident, citizen, bystander, passer-by, explorer, or flâneur. When the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) first emerged, the disciplines that represented the “human” aspects of HCI included behavioural psychology, cognitive science and human factors engineering. This situatedness begs the question whether the “user” requires different contextualisations beyond the immediate and traditional HCI concerns of the technical interface, that is, beyond usability.
This article aims to illustrate the need for placemakers and urban interaction designers to be transdisciplinary and agile in order to navigate different levels of granularity. This article seeks to practice granular agile thinking by introducing five possible ways to think about the “urban user” and the implications that follow: the user as city resident; the user as consumer of city services; the user as participant in the city’s community consultations; the user as co-creator in a collaborative approach to citymaking, and finally; the user re-thought as part of a much larger and more complex ecosystem of more-than-human worlds and of cohabitation – a process that decentres the human in the design of collaborative cities.

Pages:21 to 36
Section: Overview
How to Cite
Foth, M. (2017) “Participation, Co-Creation, and Public Space”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(4), pp. 21-36. doi: 10.5204/jps.v2i4.139.


Total Abstract Views: 242  Total PDF Downloads: 258

Author Biography

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Marcus Foth is Professor of Urban Informatics in the QUT Design Lab, Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology. He is also an Honorary Professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University, Denmark.
Professor Foth’s research brings together people, place, and technology. His transdisciplinary work is at the international forefront of human-computer interaction research and development with a focus on smart cities, community engagement, media architecture, internet studies, ubiquitous computing, and sustainability.
Professor Foth founded the Urban Informatics Research Lab at QUT in 2006. Ahead of their time and before the term “smart cities” became popular, the lab pioneered a new field of study and practice: Urban informatics examines people creating, applying and using information and communication technology and data in cities and urban environments.
Professor Foth has authored and co-authored over 180 publications in journals, edited books, and conference proceedings. He received a Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award 2013, and was inducted by the planning, design and development site Planetizen to the world’s top 25 leading thinkers and innovators in the field of urban planning and technology.
In 2017, the Australian Computer Society (ACS) made Professor Foth a fellow for “a sustained and distinguished contribution to the field of computer science. Foth is the international thought leader who coined the term urban informatics – now adopted by universities and industry worldwide. Foth’s work makes clear how academic research can successfully respond to societal challenges.”


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