At arki_lab, we know that there is no one-size-fits-all process that can be applied to every project. But we also know that it helps to have a framework to follow (at least loosely), in order to ensure we’ve covered all our bases and addressed all of the potential issues along the way. Below is an outline of our process from start to finish, broken down into four phases.

The first phase is where we have our initial meeting with the client and work together to DEFINE the scope of the project. We determine how long the project should take, who the different stakeholders are, and what the goals and expected outcomes are for everyone involved. Based on this information, we select an appropriate set of tools to help us, and create a strategy for how to move forward.

The second phase of the process is where we DISCOVER more information about the users, as we try to understand them and the other elements of the project in more detail. This is where we put our tools into practice, and start to do some work on-site. We might hold a small focus group with a particular set of stakeholders in order to understand them and their desires in more depth. We might set up a series of workshops to activate members of the community with games, 1:1 prototyping, collaging, and so on, to uncover their ideas about the present and future. What we do in this phase is project-specific, and dependent on who we are working with and what we’re trying to help them achieve.

In the third phase, we DEVELOP things further. This is where we collect all of the important information that we we gathered throughout the discover phase, and attempt to interpret what it means. We see citizens as the experts on their own neighbourhoods, and accessing their knowledge helps us make informed decisions about the project going forward. We always have a huge amount of information to analyze, as this expert knowledge is what helps us to really understand the users and their desires at a deeper level.

The final phase is where we begin to DESIGN. After going through all of the information collected in phase 3 and analyzing what it means to the project, we now use our architectural expertise to translate those wishes into a physical design proposal. With the citizens’ input, we come up with a final design, and often build it over a series of workshops with their help. The entire process is collaborative from start to finish, ensuring the citizens’ ideas can be seen in the final design.