Publication Date


Committee Members

Jack Ahern, Chair Paul Barten, Member Frank Sleegers, Member


This master's project considers public participation in regards to design of sustainable public open spaces, and recommends methods to include it in current landscape design practice.

The introduction describes the scope of the project, definition and evolution of landscape design of sustainable open space and sustainability. It presents the claims that landscape architects need an understanding of the ranges of participation in order to deliver flexible, creative and sustainable public projects in a capitalist economy and that a more active participation and more creativity contributes to sustainable designs. The rationale, limitations, methods and introduction to the literature review are also presented.

The literature review reviews definitions, goals, assumptions, standards, histories, claims, typologies and practices of participatory design. It then reviews documented public participation projects. It reviews research and arguments about who participates, how power dynamics affect participation, what knowledge is needed, and how to translate the public's contributions into sustainable designs, and qualifications limiting participatory design.

The conclusion presents whether and how participation can strengthen possibilities for sustainable design outcomes. It presents a typology to choose the right frame to evaluate the needs of the project and take right action and offers an approach to participatory design processes from a social sustainability perspective. Finally, it articulates the range of participation that can be elicited and the range of designers' and planners' roles in evoking and deepening it.