Geo-design is a collaborative planning and design method that supports the creation of various design alternatives in an iterative process and finally converging these alternatives into a collective vision. The method uses geographical information systems (GIS)-based analytic and design tools to help explore alternative future scenarios in response to stated problems. After the geo-design study preparation, usually developed using GIS software, online geodesignhub provides a user-friendly platform to put knowledge into action, the real-time assessment of their impacts and overall performance, and the negotiation among different alternatives aiming at achieving a final design based on consensus.

Basic Information on the Method
Mode of communication
Face-to-face, Online, Both
Group size
Geographical scale
Public space, Neighbourhood, City, Region
Skills required
Average, Advanced
Resources needed
Level of Involvement
Level of involvement
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

Geodesign proceeds step by step and each step answers a spesific question[1]:

Presentation models

This step answers the question of “How should the study area be described?”. Here the  study area and design objectives are chosen. Data from various aspects should be inputted during this phase. The data should be visualised and shared among stakeholders.

Process models

This step answers the question of “How does the study area operate?”. In this step, the relation and interaction between different components within the study area should be analysed. Information should be created based on the data inputted in step 1.

Evaluation models

This step answers the question of “Is the study area working well?”. The locals, who are most familiar with the study area, should participate in this step, contributing to the evaluation model. Knowledge will be generated by the locals, combining their experience and the information from step 2.

Change models

This step answers the question of “How might the study area be altered?”. All stakeholders, especially the locals, should take part in this step, provide their vision of future and their preferences.

Impact models

This step answers the question of “What differences might the changes cause?”. In this step, the impact of the changes discussed in step 4 should be assessed.

Decision models

This step answers the question of “How should the study area be changed?”. After assessing the potential changes, the position of the decision makers should be crystalised, and  the changes and consequences need to be prioritized to decide a way to proceed.

What are the outcomes

  • design alternatives and future scenarios
  • impact evaluation
  • sustainability evaluation
  • multidisciplinary cooperation

Skills required

Skills: average, advanced

  • Skills to utilise the geo-design platform
  • Knowledge of planning to make alternatives base on geographic information
  • Negotiation skills

Resources needed

Resources: high

  • Access to a Geo-design platform
  • Experts to support participants to converge the alternatives into a collective vision

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Create different scenarios and predict impact
  • Create convergent vision based on the alternatives
  • Dynamic design procedure
  • Visualisation of complex knowledge in planning process
  • Multidisciplinary cooperation
  • Participants are required to have strong verbal skills
  • Time consuming processes

Use cases


In the program REPAiR (2016-2020), the city of Hamburg has used an open source geodesign decision support environment (GDSE) to create a wastescape map and to understand the waste production and recycling behaviour of the city’s different settlement typologies. This knowledge also serve as background information for the future discussion with local stakeholders.

Try one of these tools & resources

  1. [1] Steinitz, C. (2012). A framework for geodesign: Changing geography by design.
  2. Ballal, H. (2015). Collaborative planning with digital design synthesis (Doctoral dissertation, UCL (University College London)).