Knowledge exchange and participatory practice in architecture

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Journal Article

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Knowledge exchange, Participatory design, Professional practice, Design dialectic, Hong Kong


The practice of architecture is evolving as contemporary societies become more heterogeneous. Architecture is no longer limited to being an exercise in the manipulation of form and the realization of function; instead, it is taking up an increasingly significant place in the resolution of real-world conflicts and problems. In fact, the practice of participatory design is becoming the core of city and community design via a process that emphasizes community involvement and public engagement. This paper shows how this participatory practice generates a new “design dialectic” across professions, and how it can serve as a platform where the community can voice their design aspirations. It evaluates two case studies in Hong Kong, where the establishment of a design and research unit dedicated to interdisciplinary practice evolves into a complex entity capable of responding acutely to community needs. The integration between design professionals, seasoned educators, government departments, and community organizations enables an emerging paradigm in knowledge exchange. This participatory mechanism has the potential to challenge traditional top-down design practices and prompt change in existing institutional frameworks. The paper posits that the adoption of this approach empowers the design and research unit to become a breeding ground of constructive “design dialectic” that promotes the interaction between institution and community and the resolution of social challenges.

Source Publication

The International Journal of Design in Society

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