Participatory urban development for climate adaptation in public spaces

Climate change.

Climate change is one of the most prevailing challenges of our time. The intensity of extreme weather conditions and the frequency of extreme weather events are increasing annually.

The severity of these events varies by region. Urban areas are particularly vulnerable due to high traffic density, urbanization, and the removal of vegetation.

Urban development process.

Cities can counter these upcoming challenges through local climate adaptation. 
The Urban development process is complex and requires expertise. However, experts alone are insufficient for public urban spaces. Citizens offer valuable insights but are often excluded or face transparency issues, affecting their participation enthusiasm.


Engaging citizens in these processes not only enhances the visibility of collective knowledge but also increases the acceptance of actions resulting from these projects. This can lead to a more sustainable urban development.

We saw the need for a city development involving citiziens, rather than just planning for them.

How we can create a space for citizens to convey their ideas, aspirations, and concerns, to represent their diverse perspectives?

How can we assure a more transparent urban development process to establish a culture of participation?

What is it about?

Parcitypate is a project that focuses on participatory urban development and climate adaptation. It contains two main components: a framework for collecting and dicussing input of citiziens and a digital platform that keeps participants informed about their involvement and tracks ongoing development projects. Using this participatory framework, including various methods and tools, cities can make the perspectives of their residents tangible while ensuring transparency in the urban development process.

Composition of parcitypate

Plattform Framework Scenario Enacting Telling Making

What are the goals?

Collecting implicit knowledge of citizens

Making problems of citizens visible

Creating added value for urban design institutions

Creating a culture of participation


The parcitypate Framework builds the bridge between citiziens and urban development. It provides various methods and tools that enable citizens to 
take part in the urban design process, regardless of their experience or expertise. Together they create local climate adaption actions for a 
specific area of their city.


The scenarios serve as the starting point of the process, offering a glimpse into a potential future shaped by climate change in the city. Alongside the scenario posters, a map can be that represents a specific area of the urban development project. Depending on the chosen scenario, this map can provide participants with additional information. Together, the map and posters form a framework around the methods.


The methods aim to include citizens in a development process, particularly those who are not familiar at generating and expressing their ideas. To approach to various types of participants, we have designed three methods, each tailored to engage participants in their unique manner. These methods can be used independently or sequentially.


The Making method is used to identify the needs, desires, and ideas of citizens. After selecting a scenario, it enables participants to adress specific local problems by placing climate adaptation action cards on the map.


The Telling method focuses on gaining insights through communicative information exchange. To achieve this, a whiteboard and Post-its can be utilized to collect feedback, wishes, and solutions from citiziens.


The Enacting method aims to understand the issues and desires of specific demographic groups. A persona card is chosen, and various steps are taken to gain insights into their perspective of a better city.

Proof of Concept

Our focus was on designing the participatory framework. To test and introduce it to citizens for the first time, we utilized a public showroom, provided by the city Schwäbisch Gmünd.

Within two weeks we engaged with numerous interested citizens and tested the various methods using a sample project scenario of urban development.

The starting point for the tests was climate scenarios we created, including storm surges and heatwaves. We used the Bockgasse of Schwäbisch Gmünd as a local example for climate adaptation. Through the three methods, we collected wishes, ideas, and challenges from citizens for this area.


In the first method, called „Making,“ we aimed to engage participants interactively in citizen-driven climate adaptation. Using a scaled down map of Bocksgasse with prominent landmarks, we added a glass surface for participants to draw on. We provided a set of cards and various markers for participants to choose and place action cards where they considered it necessary.
This approach showed first insights into citizen concerns and preferences.


In the „Telling“ method, we emphasized communication of diverse perspectives using colored Post-its to collect ideas and issues, allowing participants to quickly note their opinion on a whiteboard.


In our card set, we included Persona cards to represent diverse city residents. In an additional method, participants impersonate the role of a fictional person, similar to the „Making“ method, to shape Bocksgasse from that perspective. This approach allowed participants to gain additional insights and perspectives.


The use of a transfer model is intended to facilitate our participatory framework in other cities. This transfer model offers a structured approach to adapt and successfully introduce the framework to meet the specific needs and circumstances of a different city.

After a comprehensive analysis, the framework is customized and tailored to meet the requirements of the target city.

To ensure the framework’s maximum transferability, we’ve designed the transfer model with a modular structure. 
The framework components are categorized into two groups: fundamental, transferable modules and specific, non-transferable modules.

What I did in this project

… beyond the known methods and skills of designers
  • Haptic prototype
  • Screendesign
  • Website Coding & Design
  • Print design
  • Quantitative research
  • Conducting and evaluating
    expert Interviews
  • User Testing
  • Time Management
  • Documentation
  • Entirely
  • Partially

Additional Information

The results of the two-week PoC-Phase were published on the website

Please contact me for more information or access to the full documentary of the thesis.

Additional Pictures

Project Information

Project Partner

Lucca Strecker


Master-thesis – Strategic Design M.A.
Summer 2023


Prof. Dr. Dagmar Rinker
Dr. Dodo Vögler