A walkthough is a systematic walk along a defined path across the community/project area together with the local people to explore the local conditions by observing, asking, listening, making photographs and taking notes. The walkthrough is normally conducted during the initial phase of the fieldwork, and includes the representatives of stakeholder groups. It is best to walk the route, which will cover the greatest diversity in terms of local conditions. During the walk, participants discuss everything encountered or noticed which could be of relevance to the issue in focus. The information collected during the walk is used to draw a diagram or map. Based on the diagram/map discussions are held amongst the participants (Keller, 2020).

Basic Information on the Method
Mode of communication
Group size
1-5, 6-30
Geographical scale
Skills required
Basic, Average, Advanced
Resources needed
Level of Involvement
Level of involvement
Consult, Involve, Collaborate
Type of knowledge enabled
Divergence (Small groups)
Additional Criteria
Planning phase
Initiatiion, Evaluation & Research
Methodological approach
Diagnostic, Organisational

How to use the method

  1. Identify participants, who represent essential stakeholder groups, are willing to walk together and share their observations.
  2. Discuss with the participants the purpose of the walk and decide on the path that should be taken to cover the variety of local conditions.
  3. Decide with the participants what parameters should be used for recording observations. Limit parameters to six at maximum to avoid information overload and confusion.
  4. The most useful part of the transect walk is the walk itself and the discussion which arise during the walk. Decide on the specific observation points along the path at which everyone stops to discuss and record the parameters.

What are the outcomes

After the walk you produce and analyse the conceptual sketch of the area, where you mark items of interest or problematic items.

Skills required

Skills required from participants - Basic, Average, Advanced

  • The group of participants should include experts of the local urban environment, e.g. those, who live in the area or actively use it.

Resources needed

Resources - Low

  • Two to four hours of time
  • Appropriate clothes and footwear for the area and the weather
  • Notebook and pen
  • Map or aerial photo of the area
  • Camera
  • Smartphone or tablet with a software for taking field notes, e.g. Fieldwire (optional)
  • Voice recorder if you want to take voice notes (optional)

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Helps to identify major spatial problems and possible solutions as perceived by various stakeholders
  • Provides the understanding of local spatial condition and practices
  • Supports site selection for the spatial intervention (e.g. small public space)
  • Helps to triangulate the data collected through other tools
  • Takes into account only current and observable issues, serving as an entry point to the in-depth analysis
  • It might be difficult to bring together the relevant stakeholders to participate together in the walk at the certain time and place

Use cases

Neighbourhood Guide (Apkaimju Gids) – Dārzeņi neighbourhood, Riga, Latvia

The worksop “Neighbourhood Guide in Darzeni” (“Apkaimju Gids Dārziņos”) was a part of Riga city planning department (Rīgas Domes Pilsētas attīstības departaments, RDPAD) resident engagement strategy. During the workshop the usual communication process between the stakeholders, which usually takes a few months, was compressed to a few hours. The workshop included representatives of the neighbourhood association, as well as the representatives of the relevant agencies, such as planning department, designers and public utility companies. The stakeholders took a three hour walking tour through the neighbourhood with four half-an-hour stops at strategic locations to discuss relevant spatial issues. The insights from the walking tour served as an input for the forthcoming neighbourhood master plan (Prilenska, 2018; RDPAD, 2016).

Try one of these tools & resources

  1. Keller S. (2020) Transect Walk. Available at: https://sswm.info/humanitarian-crises/urban-settings/planning-process-tools/exploring-tools/transect-walk.
  2. Prilenska V. (2018) Neighbourhood guide (Apkaimju Gids) - Riga. In Bogle A. & Popova E. (Eds.), Methodological guidelines for teachers (pp. 90–94). HafenCity University Hamburg.
  3. RDPAD (2016) Norisināsies “Apkaimju Gids Dārziņos”. Available at: https://www.rdpad.lv/norisinasies-apkaimju-gids-darzinos/.
  4. Rabinowtiz P. (1994-2021) Section 21. Windshield and Walking Surveys. Available at: https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/assessing-community-needs-and-resources/windshield-walking-surveys/main.