Design Charrette

An intensive, hands-on workshop that brings people from different disciplines and backgrounds together with members of the community to explore design options for a particular area. It differs from a traditional community consultation process in that it is design based. The goal of the Charrette process is to capture the vision, values, and ideas generated by the participants. Typically they are a fun and innovative way to engage the public, especially in projects where there is a significant landscape, streetscape, or other interesting design element (Involve, 2018).

Basic Information on the Method
Mode of communication
Group size
1-5, 6-30
Geographical scale
Public space, Neighbourhood
Skills required
Basic, Average, Advanced
Resources needed
Low, Medium, High
Level of Involvement
Level of involvement
Consult, Involve, Collaborate, Empower
Type of knowledge enabled
Convergence - Small groups
Additional Criteria
Planning phase
Planning & Design
Methodological approach
Expressive, Organisational

How to use the method

  1. Decide on the area in focus for the charrette. The charrette works best on a small scale, from a public space to a neighbourhood.
  2. Make a list of stakeholders, which you want to involve. The charrette benefits from the cross-stakeholder collaboration, therefor think of citizens, environmental NGOs, architects, planners, landscape architects, transportation engineers, public utility companies, park and garden maintenance authorities.
  3. Decide on the format of the charrette. Is it a one day event or will it last for a few days? The charrette works best in small groups. Therefore, if you have a long list of participants, think of running either multiple parallel sessions or multiple consecutive sessions.
  4. Prepare the materials for the charrette, such as maps and photographs of the area, coloured pens and paper for sketching. Are you going to use any 3D models? It might be helpful to have a 3D map of the area and pre-designed “building blocks”, such as houses, trees, etc., which participants can move around.
  5. Decide, how you are going to capture the information, generated during the charrette. Are you going to photograph the results, make audio or video recordings? Are you going to live stream the event?
  6. Choose the time and location for the charrette. It might be helpful to send out the invites to some key participants and ask to indicate the suitable dates and times from a list.
  7. Advertise the event via multiple channels, such as social media, official web pages, newsletters, personal communication with with key stakeholder, etc.
  8. Evaluate the results: what kind of information was expected and what was received, what changed based on the information received.

What are the outcomes

A vision of the area expressed in two-dimensional sketches or in three-dimensional mock-up models.

Skills required

Skills required from participants - Basic, Average, Advanced

  • A charrette benefits from the mix of participants with diverse skills and knowledge. A charrette focuses both on the process and the outcomes. The process should foster the exchange of experiences and ideas, and enable mutual learning.

Resources needed

Resources - Low, Medium, High

  • The resources vary depending on the format of the design charrette. A Charrette may be conducted with a small number of people and with simple and cheap materials, such as coloured pens and pencils, sketch paper and maps of the area in focus. A charrette may, also, run for several days, involve large number of participants and rely upon a state-of-the-art technology, such as streaming live, as well as advanced photo and video capturing.

Strengths and weaknesses

  • A creative, dynamic and immersive process
  • Interdisciplinary and cross-stakeholder collaboration
  • Enables to explore diverse ideas and development scenarios
  • Gives an insight into community’s needs and values
  • Provides the opportunity for the community members to be directly involved into designing solutions for their neighbourhood
  • May be dominated by urban professionals, such as architects, planners, landscape architects
  • May raise unrealistic expectations about the future development in the neighbourhood

Use cases

Charrette on the Firhill Basin Canal Corridor “What Floats your Boat?” - Glasgow, UK, 2015

The project addresses the Woodside, Firhill and Hamiltonhill areas of North Glasgow through which the Forth and Clyde Canal corridor passes. The area was characterised by vacant and derelict land plots, as well as by the under-utilised green spaces. Through an intensive 4 day ‘Charrette’ stakeholder and community consultation process with significant art outreach, which all together was named ‘What Floats your Boat?’, the project has established a Vision for the Woodside, Firhill and Hamiltonhill areas integrated with the canal corridor. The Charrette involved dialogue with over 300 stakeholders and members of the local community and it united their individual strengths to provide a cohesive development framework for the area (Landscape Institute, 2016).

Try one of these tools & resources

  1. Landscape Institute (2016) Woodside, Firhill & Hamiltonhill Development Framework, Glasgow, informed by the ‘What Floats Your Boat’ charrette. Available at:‘what-floats-your-boat’-charrette/edde65c9-0fa7-e911-a9b4-002248014c7d.
  2. Involve (2018) Home / Resources / Methods / Design Charettes. Available at:
  3. RDPAD (2020) Iepazīstina ar Rīgas mobilitātes vīziju un konceptuālā dizaina skicēm divām terotorijām. Available at: