Talking Plants and a Bug Hotel: Participatory Design of ludic encounters with an urban farming community
Due to environmental concerns, sustainability is a growing field of research in HCI. But utilitarian approaches for individual behaviour change that are typical within HCI have been criticised as being too simplistic and failing to take into account the complexity of people’s lives. This thesis contributes a design approach grounded in community-based Participatory Design, and drawing on ludic design, to expand the design space of sustainable HCI beyond individual behaviour change. The thesis demonstrates how the commitments, practices and values of community based Participatory Design and ludic design can be used effectively with a diverse and non-settled urban agricultural community. The research outlines how this approach can support the values, needs and practices of the community, and allow for holistic understandings of sustainability to emerge. This is achieved through three case studies conducted at Spitalfields City Farm, in inner East London. The first study was a way to get to know the farming community and to ground the subsequent work in the values, practices and needs of the farm. This was followed by two research through design studies to investigate designing ludic encounters with and for the community: i) the Talking Plants, a playful encounter with edible plants to support community engagement and learning, and ii) the Bug Hotel, a large musical sculpture for interspecies living, reflection and relaxation. After describing each case study individually in rich detail I turn to a comparison of their respective processes and the artefacts that each produced in the final chapter. These reflections include a manifesto for community-based sustainable HCI, through a Ludic Participatory Design methdology, as well as strategies and challenges to serve as guidance and inspiration for other researchers wishing to do similar kinds of work with similar kinds of communities.
- College Publications