Process That Uses Childrens Creativity Education Essay

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1.1. What is Creativity?

Creativity is one of the most celebrated concepts of the current world. There is a large body of scholarship that are involved in the creativity study and the growth of creativity studies continues to increase (Kaufman HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_11"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_11" Sternberg, 2010). But yet, the word creativity is poorly understood. The term creativity is very 'ill-defined', ambiguous and fuzzy which its meaning has no existence of common agreement (Milbrandt HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_19"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_19" Milbrandt, 2011). Definition from different field of research, academic opinions, folks' perception and myths create a complex and divisive topic. The confusion and vagueness of the word 'creativity', which causing unclear exactly what forms 'creativity'.

Creativity can be defined in many ways. It can be a phenomenon, a process, an act or an attribute (Williams HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_33"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_33" Askland, 2012). In the traditional models, creativity is conceptualised by 3 key models: 'inspirational', 'romantic' and 'mystical' (Cowdroy HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_5"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_5" Williams, 2006). Tan (2007) defines creativity as a feature of humanity that differentiates human beings from other animals. It is a personality and cultural phenomenon that allows human beings to transform possibilities into reality (Tan, 2007). What constitutes 'creativity' can be answered as the interactive combination of knowledge, intellectual skills, thinking style, personality, motivation and the environment (Tan, 2007). Taoism states that creativity is naturally inborn since we are a child (Tan, 2007). But for Robert Sternberg (as cited in Tan, 2007), he explained creativity as a habit. Creativity can be encouraged and discouraged and can be fostered because of an attitude towards life. It is indeed hard to define the word creativity in general, so it is clearer to explore the definition of creativity in only one particularly field to narrow down the meaning of creativity for this thesis study.

In this thesis study, creativity will be defined in the field of architecture. Creativity in architecture can be defined as "a noun naming the phenomenon in which a person communicates a new concept, which is the product" (Rholes, 1961). In the field of architecture, creativity enables the designer to make use of the basic and conventional skills to think of new ideas and concepts which may lead to innovative solutions (Williams, Ostwald HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_34"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_34" Askland, 2010a). Instead of just using "what is already there", designer has to think "outside the box" to search for "what is possible" which can be new and impressive to the audience.

1.2. How is creativity defined in the field of architectural design?

Creativity in architecture can be conceptualized in 4 key models: creative person, creative process, creative product and creative context (Williams et al., 2010b). Demirkan and Afacan (2011) define these 4 key models as a multidimensional concept that interact between creative person, creative process and creative product inside a creative context (figure 1). Creative person is the designer who runs the creative process to create a creative product in a creative context. Creative person is defined as someone who has "an extraordinary innate 'gift' that is beyond the grasp of mere mortals" (Cowdroy HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_5"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_5" Williams, 2006). Only selected person, who is 'gifted', has the divine inspiration to find creative solution for a design problem. According to Stein (1984; as cited in Milbrandt HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_26"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_26" Milbrandt 2011), a creative person is someone who has thoughts or actions to change a field or establish a new field. A person who can do something in his own special and individual method is considered as creative (Lindbeck, 1963). Creative process is defined as the cycle of critical thinking and actions that leads to a new and creative product (Lubart, 2001). The basic elements to understand the creative process can be found in the four-stage model: problem identification, preparation, response generation and response validation (Lubart, 2001) which is about problem solving. But yet, for some circumstances, the definition of creative process cannot be explained. According to examples from Ducasse (1964; as cited in Maitland 2002), some of the designers only clearly understand the creative process after the design is created. Creative product is defined as a new outcome, that can be accepted by the society, which is transformed from possibilities into reality (Tan, 2007). It can be created by using creative theories or aesthetic theories (Maitland, 2002). Creative context, which is also creative environment, is defined as the atmosphere or mood (external motivation, social dynamics, pressure) of the place for creative process (Williams et al., 2010a).

Creativity in the field of architectural design is a complex word which is difficult to define. No one will assess creativity whether it is right or wrong. There is no characterization of creativity that seems possible (Maitland, 2002). Maitland (2002) also suggested that creativity is a form of human freedom. It depends on inspiration of individual to realize the meaning of creativity in respect with the social and culture aspect.

Source: (Williams et al., 2010b)

Figure 1: Four key models conceptualise creativity in architecture

1.3. Architectural design process

In the architecture education field, there are discussions about what is actually the meaning of the word "design". Defined by Lawson (1997), 'design' is a word which has two meanings. It can be a verb, which means the design process, or it can be a noun, which means the design outcome (Lawson, 1997). In this thesis study, I would like to challenge the view of judging in terms of the creative end product. Instead, I would like to focus in exploring creativity in the design process.

Design process is defined as a sequence to plan and organize the elements to create a visual pattern (Lauer, 1990) and to meet a specific requirement (Lindbeck, 1963). The elements can be different in different field. As in the field of architecture, the elements are the parts of the building, for example, the windows, doors, space, main entrance, rooms, etc. Architecture is categorised in the "creative" field. It can be difficult to determine whether the plan or arrangement is the correct answer to the problems in the architectural design process because there are many variations based on individual interpretation and application (Lauer, 1990). The problem can only be solved with a better method, and maybe not the best one. So, usually designer designs to the degree that the idea is altered, adapted and modified to meet his specific needs (Lindbeck, 1963).

Although there are no perfect solutions during design process, there are methods which design can be approached appropriately and more meaningful to create a creative product (Tunstall, 2000). Conventionally, there is a cyclic method design process that was introduced by Lindbeck (1963) illustrated in figure 2, which involves five phases. These five phases are interdependent and interrelated to each phases which are: (1) Statement of the problem; (2) Analysis and research; (3) Possible solutions; (4) Experimentation; and (5) Final solution (Lindbeck, 1963). This design process involved problem-solving, so, a statement of the problems must be stated clear, direct and simple in the beginning of design process (Lindbeck, 1963). Then, in the second phase, analysis and research has to be done. With the problems stated from the first phase, the problems have to be analysed by separating the problems into constituent parts (Tunstall, 2000) and categorized them. Questions will be identified and answers have to be obtained in this phase (Lindbeck, 1963). In order to make sure the answers are accurate, designer must consult references and ask questions of others (Lindbeck, 1963). After that, by re-assembling the parts into a meaningful 'whole' or synthesis (Tunstall, 2000), a possible solution can be achieved. This possible solution has to undergo experimentation as more ideas may be developed (Lindbeck, 1963). Mock-up model or 3D CAD model can be built for visualizing and testing purposes. Another way to experiment the possible solution is to organize an appraisal with the interested parties or stakeholders, for example, the client, the Planning Authority, government and other members of the design team (Tunstall, 2000). Feedbacks can be received from the appraisal in the form of recommendations, approvals, advice or instructions which will be useful for improving the ideas (Tunstall, 2000). If the design in any of the phases does not sound good, it is necessary to return to the previous phase to refine it. The phases of the design process can move from one phase to another depends on progress and the designer (Lindbeck, 1963). When every problems have been solved and meet the specific needs of the designer, then it will be the final solution, the last phase in the design process. However, any minor changes or corrections can be done during the documentation and construction process.

Source: (Lindbeck, 1963)

Figure 2: The conventional design process

1.4. Design process of previous children's co-design projects

Most of the previous children's co-design projects followed the design process shown in Figure 1. For example, the Joinedupdesignforschools programme in UK (Sorrell, 2005) involves children acting as the clients to brief the designers who produce designs for their approval. In this project, children are only involved in the experimentation stage where children give feedbacks and approvals to the possible solutions which are produced by the designers. Besides, children provide additional possible solutions to solve problems during the meeting with the designers.

Another programme developed out of Joinedupdesignforschools is the Young Design Programme (The Sorrell Foundation, 2012) which also followed this design process. The main partnership of this programme is the University of the Arts, London, which is Europe's largest university for art, design, fashion, communication and the performing arts (The Sorrell Foundation, 2012), since 2005. The programme joins up children from primary schools, secondary schools and further education colleges with students at universities and colleges, and designers in this field. In this programme, children play a role as clients in projects to set a brief for their university student design consultants, who are in turn mentored by professional designers and architects. The aim for this programme is to give opportunities for all participants to learn and develop transferable skills such as problem-solving, team-working and communication during the design process.

There are several projects under this programme. For example, the "Climbing Cocoons & Outdoor Social Space" project (The Sorrell Foundation, 2012) associates with Bucks New University, participated by the university students from Bucks New University who worked with a client team of Year 9 students from the Misbourne School, UK and mentored by architects. As a start, the university students organised a trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, UK to show the client team the importance of the relationship between buildings and the environment, and how buildings can be designed in corresponding to the surrounding environment. They also introduced them some natural materials in construction industry. Then, the client team identified the design problem in their school, which was a lack of sheltered outdoor space for use during break and lunchtime. The university students with the client team produced a design brief from the problem. They also had some discussions to understand what the client team wants. After that, the university students developed a design concept which was to design three 'cocoons' that open up the space, at the same time giving an element of privacy. They continued the design development by designing the 'cocoons' to function as a shelter but would also merge with the natural environment and look dynamic. They also made a preference on the material that would be used to construct the 'cocoons'.

The second project is the "Flowering Signage" project (The Sorrell Foundation, 2012) associates with University of the Arts London, participated by a team university students from London College of Communication, worked with a children client team from Charles Edward Brooke School in Lambeth, UK and mentored by architects and a graphic design agency in London. From the start, the children client team already identified a number of design problems at their school, which was a lack of exciting social space, an identity that could be stronger and poor signage and communication systems. Based on the problems, the university students produced a design brief with the children client team. Then, the university students began by designing a new logo for the school based on the image of flower to represent the school as a whole which can give the school a recognisable identity. After that, the university students continued to solve the social space problem by developing the new logo to design outdoor pods. They used the petal motif from the logo to create an outdoor pavilion of social and dining spaces which can give the students of Charles Edward Brooke School a place to sit and relax, at the same time providing shelter from the weather.

Another project is the "Sustainable Social Spaces" project (The Sorrell Foundation, 2012) partnering with Leeds College of Art, participated by a university student design team named 'Evolve' from Leeds College of Art worked with a group of 10 person, aged 6 to 11, from Little London Community Primary School, UK as the client team. The client team identified the main problem of their school. They wanted to focus on their outdoor space, has no shelter or games to play. After discussion, Evolve came out with an idea of designing a new outdoor area which was inspired by organic shapes and interactive furniture. They created a new playground with a series of curvy tunnels as the main feature, providing a sheltered place for the children in Little London Community Primary School to play, eat and socialise. With sustainability in mind, they also specified to use recycle materials to construct the fixtures of the curvy tunnels. Evolve was supervised by architects throughout the design process to receive professional advice and guidance.

The design process of three of these examples from Youth Design Programme clearly followed the problem solving process of: (1) Children identified the design problems; (2) Children produced a design brief; (3) Children discussed with university students; (4) University students developed the design concepts; and (5) University students produced the design outcomes (figure 3). The design process of the projects are similar to the Lindbeck's (1963) problem-solving process which architects practice nowadays whereas the difference is the projects involved children and university students, as the creative person, in the creative process to produce creative outcome. But yet, there are discussions on limitations in the design process of Youth Design Programme. The children's creativity are limited in the design process because they are only involved in the beginning of the process which is to identify the design problem of their schools, produce the design briefs and discussion with the university students. The children do not involve in the design development stage directly to produce the design outcomes. The ideas from the children might be wrongly translated or interpreted by the university students. Besides, it is argued that problem-solving method in the design process does not fully inspire children's creativity, as children's creativity is different from adult's creativity. This argument will be further discussed in section 1.6.

Figure 3: Youth Design Programme design process

1.5. Global Policy Background and Movement

Child is a young human being under the legal age or age of majority (Oxford English Dictionary), which is the age of 18 for most of the country in the world, including Australia. Children under this age group form a large percentage of the population in the world. Through the World Midyear Population by Age and Sex for 2012 statistic (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012), estimated around one third of the world population falls in this age group. In Australia, there were around 5.7 million children in this age group by June 2011, which occupied around 25% of the total population (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011). Does this significant age group has the right to participate in the design process to create a built-environment where the users are the children?

The place where children spend most of their time besides their homes is the school. Generally, children spend averagely 6 hours a day, which is more than 1000 hours a year in school (Ghaziani, 2008; National Curriculum Framework, 2005). In addition, from preschool to year 12, the total amount of time children spend in school is even significant. We can't neglect that the school is a "second house" for children to "live" and learn. So, children's wellbeing such as health, work, leisure and emotions will be greatly affected by the school environment (Ghaziani, 2008). In order to provide a comfortable and appropriate school environment to children, involving children in the school design process has become a choice of solution. There are many successful projects which involve children in school design such as "Eco-Buddy Project" in Australia (Eco-Cubby, 2012); "Natural Learning Initiative" in the United States (University, 2012); "Joined up design for schools" in UK (Sorrell, 2005); "The school I'd like" competition in UK (Burke HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_4"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_4" Grosenor, 2003); and a children co-design of an eco-classroom in New Zealand (Wake, 2011). These successful projects received positive feedbacks from school authorities, children and their parents; and have created suitable school design. But, children's creativity has not been fully utilized and encouraged in the design process. The design ideas and voices from the children were judged and selected by adults or the architects, who are involved in the projects. So, the design ideas might be transmitted or interpreted wrongly to state what the children actually wanted.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international agreements also have agreed to create a global policy framework, and the new sociology of childhood has laid the theoretical foundation for encouraging children to engage in the design process of environmental planning or built-environment. In the global movement of children's participation today, there have been two widespread international initiatives, which integrate the policy framework and the theoretical foundation, that attempt to engage children and young people to improve the quality cities for themselves: "Child Friendly Cities" launched by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in 1996, and "Growing Up in Cities" sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (Bridgman, 2004). "Child Friendly Cities" is a partnership movement with the needs of commitments from the government to create a better city for children. Many cities across the world have joined this movement and child-focused policies, carried out budgetary reforms and involvement of children in decision making have been developed (Riggio, 2002). "Growing up in Cities", which was pioneered by Kevin Lynch (1977) in the 1970s, is an international participatory action research movement to create better cities with children and youth (Lynch, 1977). Children, youth and adults are involved as co-researchers in evaluating local environments to plan and implement change (Lynch, 1977).

These examples stated in the previous two paragraphs are successful projects and international initiatives that children are involved in the design process of urban planning and built-environment. This means that children have an important role to involve in the design process to create a suitable built-environment for themselves. But yet, research and experiments are needed to generate a model so that children's creativity can be fully stimulated and utilised in the design process.

1.6. How children's creativity different from adult's creativity?

There are a lot of discussions on whether children's creativity is different from adult's creativity? As reviewed in section 1.1, creativity is an ill-defined, ambiguous and fuzzy word (Milbrandt HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_19"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_19" Milbrandt, 2011). It is difficult to establish an agreed answer on the question. Some psychologists define creative person as someone who can change a field or establish a new field (Milbrandt HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_19"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_19" Milbrandt, 2011; Stein, 1984). If creative person is defined in this way, children are not the that creative as they are not likely to have the knowledge and skills to do that. But, if creativity is defined as a result of free and spontaneous expression or unconscious drive (Williams et al., 2010b)

1.7. What stimulate children's creativity in co-design project?

Generally, adults encourage children's creativity by using different activities, such as story-telling, playing games, solving puzzles, showing pictures, taking a field trip and many more (Brainy-Child, 2012; Motherforlife, 2012; Pondered, 2006). But, for a children co-design project, children have to work together with designers as a group to design a creative product, which is different from parents stimulating their children's creativity at home. A different activity or technique has to be used to stimulate children's creativity in a co-design project.

Dindler and Iversen (2007) have suggested that fictional inquiry is an effective technique to stimulate participant's creativity in the design process of a co-design project, as this technique are suitable for both children and adult users in either professional or non-professional contexts. Fictional inquiry technique can temporary bypass existing socio-cultural structures of a given context by creating fictional situations, artifacts and narratives to stage the co-design situation (Dindler HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_7"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_7" Iversen, 2007). For example, a co-design workshop named "Mission from Mars", which used a fictional story in the form of the Mission from Mars at the beginning of the workshop to design a digital schoolbag (Dindler HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_7"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_7" Iversen, 2007). Another example of co-design workshop conducted by Dindler and Iversen (2007) was named "The King of Atlantis", which the fictional story was inspired by the tale of "The Lost City of Atlantis" to stage the co-design situation to develop concepts and prototypes for future experience environments in museums, science centers and public spaces (Dindler HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_7"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_7" Iversen, 2007). There are feedbacks from the participants stated that fictional inquiry technique is fun and appeals to the playfulness of the participants (Dindler HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_7"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_7" Iversen, 2007). This technique creates a creative context to the children (creative person) in a co-design project which helps to inspire and stimulate children's imaginations and creativity.


This thesis study proposed a new design process model (Figure 4) to address some of the limitations of previous children co-design projects. This new model involved school-age children to work collaboratively in teams with university architecture students in a design project. The role of the children are as the main designer (creative person) to give creative ideas to produce creative design outcomes; the university architecture students act as a facilitator to encourage and guide the children with their architecture knowledge and skills, such as scale, architectural drawing, building model and materials. Facilitators are not allowed to put limitations on the children's imagination and not to give children the design ideas so that children's creativity will be fully utilised. Even though facilitators do not give inputs in the design process, they have a role to record children's ideas and architecturally translate the ideas, together with the children, into a creative product. It is discussed that the participation of facilitators is important so that the design outputs will not be too 'romantic' and unrealistic in practice. As reviewed in section 1.6, children's creativity is different from adult's creativity, so different method has to be used in order to inspire the children's creativity. In this new model, fictional inquiry technique is introduced in the beginning of the co-design process to stage the co-design situation in order to inspire and motivate children's imagination. It is believed that this new co-design process model is a better creative design process which can maximise children's imagination and fully utilised children's creativity to generate creative design outcomes.

Figure 4: The new co-design process model


This thesis study is based on case studies. Two previous children's co-design projects have been selected as the cases: (1) Co-design project in Wales Street Primary School, and (2) Co-design project in Roslyn Primary School. Similar to the previous co-design projects reviewed in section 1.4, these two projects involved children in the architectural design process, but they have different activities or stages in the design process to utilize children's creativity. The stage (problem-solving and imagination) to start the design process of the co-design project were different, but all of them have successfully create creative outcomes. This thesis paper will review and analyse the stages of the design process of the two co-design projects, comparing the differences of the design process with previous co-design projects reviewed in section 1.4, and evaluate the creativity of the design process.

The first case is the co-design project in Wales Street Primary School which was started to overcome the limitations in previous co-design projects. A new pedagogical model was proposed in this project for children's genuine participation in architectural design, developed in an architectural education context (Loznovska HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_15"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_15" Xu, 2012). The co-design involved children and university architecture students work in teams to design, develop and construct fragment of playground using inspiration through a fictional theme of "One World, Two Cities".

The second case is the co-design project in Roslyn Primary School which was another attempt to use the same pedagogical model as the co-design project in Wales Street Primary School to address the limitations in previous co-design projects. The project was participated by children, worked with university architecture students, to design a creative playground based on imaginations of the children. The title of "Imagined Creatures" was chosen as the start point to develop the design product.

This thesis study is based on qualitative analysis of the data collected through texts, photos and videos relating to the two projects which were obtained from the research database of School of Architecture and Building, Deakin University. The qualitative information obtained will be analysed using techniques of content analysis and thematic analysis.


This section provides an account of the pedagogical model (figure 4), children work with university architecture students in small group in an architectural project (Loznovska HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_15"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_15" Xu, 2012), used in two co-design projects based on Victoria context, with emphases on the design process. In the first case, the pedagogical model was conducted in collaboration with children (grade 3 & 4) from Wales Street Primary School and first-year architecture students from Deakin University, Geelong. In the second case, it was conducted collaboration with children (grade 5 & 6) from Roslyn Primary School and a team of university architecture students from Deakin University, Geelong. Both of these cases are based on school environments.

Source: (Loznovska HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_15"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_15" Xu, 2012)

Figure 4: Pedagogical Model used in the two case studies

4.1. Case One: Design process of children co-design project in Wales Street Primary School

This project involved Grade 3 & 4 primary school children from Wales Street Primary School and first-year architecture students from Deakin University (both are based in Victoria, Australia) to work collaboratively in teams to design a school playground. It was run based on a series of 4 weeks workshop, two and a half hours workshop for each week. There were around 90 students from both Wales Street Primary School and Deakin University who participated in the project. They were divided into 30 groups, which consisted of three architecture students and three children. The equal numbers of children and university students in each group were important so that there was a balance power relationship in between.

The design process of this project was divided into 3 stages: preparation, design development and installation, evaluation and exhibition. In the preparation stage, all the teams were given a same theme to design the school playground. The theme was derived from the fictional fantasy world of "One World, Two Cities". In the fantasy world, there was a Black City, which represented the underworld - dark, secret, invisible and earthly, and a White City, which represented the visible and conscious world - divine, heavenly and illusions. Both of these cities were co-existing. Materials such as pictures, storybooks and movies were shown to the children to help them conceptualise the fantasy world. Each team had to pick one fragment of the playground to work on (including six bridges, two tunnels, one railway line, five spires/towers, etc.) in order to manifest children's design ideas. Then, in the design development stage, activities such as story-telling, drawing, and modelling were organized to give a stronger perception of the design theme and to inspire the children's creativity. All the teams had to explore their chosen city or playground fragment through drawings, paintings and cardboard models. At the end of the design development stage, architecture students in each group had to translate all the children's design ideas into illustrations and composed a poster for presentation. After that, in the installation, evaluation and exhibition stage, each team had to build a 1:20 scale model of the playground fragment at the location which was suggested by the children. An exhibition was held at the end of the project to allow parents and visitors from other organizations to look at the models.

In this project, the children were the actual designers. They were given a role in providing creative design ideas, made decisions and progressively realised their design ideas under the facilitation of the architecture students in the design process; while, the architecture students were only facilitators, who were responsible to guide the children and record the children's creativity during the design process. The architecture students were not allowed to give any inputs or ideas and not to put limitations on the children's imagination in the design process, so that children's creativity could be fully utilized.

This project has a different design process compared to the conventional design process (figure 5). Instead of problem-solving in developing design ideas in the design process, this project proposed a start point by providing an imagination scene to the children. The imagination of children will be inspired by the fictional movies, stories and pictures. From the imagination of the children, they undergo drawing, painting and model building to test and realise the design ideas and gradually develop into architectural elements, which are the city or playground fragments. At the end of the project, each team had to build a 1:20 scale model as the design outcome.

Figure 5: The design process of children co-design project in Wales Street Primary School

Elaborate the design process in details: The fantasy city (black city / white city), the playground as the representation of the fantasy city, how the idea of fantasy city became the drive of the design ideas, how the fantasy city translated into the design elements

4.2. Case Two: Design process of children co-design project in Roslyn Primary School

This project involved a team of architecture students from Deakin University (Geelong, Victoria) and Grade 5 & 6 children from Roslyn Primary School (Belmont, Victoria) to work together to design a structure in the school playground. It was held for 8 weeks from 20th October to 10th November 2011, with a two hours workshop for each week. There were 48 children from Roslyn Primary School who participated in this project and were divided into eight groups, each facilitated by one architecture student throughout this whole project.

At the beginning of the project, the children started the design by drawing an imagined creature (dragon) on their sketch book by using different materials such as pencils, charcoal, crayon, etc. After that, architecture students in each group taught the children how to use the tracing paper and how to trace their work to develop the design of their imagined creature. Through analysing the children's drawings, we believe that imagined creatures exists differently in the children's minds. The imagined creatures were drew differently and creatively by the each of the children. For example, a child drew the imagined creature with a horse head attached to a bird's body (picture); another child drew it with 3 long curly necks with a wheel cart attached with a tail at the bottom (picture); another child drew it with an elephant's trunk on the nose, butterfly wings on the body and with a lion tail at the back of the body (picture). Then, the activity was to draw a shelter for the imagined creatures. This was another activity to stimulate children's creativity in the sense related to built environment as well as architecture. All these drawings were imaginations of children which would be part of the ideas for designing the playground in the next stage. The design process of the school playground structure was started from a brain-storming session which is the design development stage. Architecture student or facilitator in each group discussed with his or her group to collect design ideas from children. Different methods were used in different groups. Some facilitators asked the children to verbally illustrate or write down the ideas in their minds; some of the groups started by walking around the school to choose a location and to get inspiration from site; some groups continued the ideas by reviewing the children's drawings of the imagined creatures and the shelters; children in some of the groups described what they wanted and the facilitators illustrated the ideas into sketches on paper.

During the process, all the groups had to build a model representing the ideas of the imagined creature. They used variety of materials such as ice-cream sticks, cardboards, household recycled materials and play-dough to build the models. Scaled human models (picture) were built by using play-dough in each team to give a sense of scale to the imagined creature models. After all the children assessed the imagined creature models, they have to vote to choose the best model which they like to develop into the school playground structure. A "dragon" model (picture) was chosen and agreed by all the children. From there, the dragon was divided into parts such as head, body, tail, wing and leg. Each of the group had to choose one of the dragon's part to develop into the playground structure. Each of the group had freedom in choosing the scale and location for their design. The parts of the "dragon" were drew differently in scale for different groups. For example, one of the child drew a 15 metres long "dragon" tail with a playground slide at one edge and a ladder at another edge (picture) which was not proportional to the scale of the other parts of the "dragon" which were drawn by other child. The different scale of different parts of the "dragon" conceptualised the concept of deconstruction architecture.

This project has a similar pedagogical model with the children co-design project in Wales Street Primary School but the design process is slightly different (figure 6). The project in Wales Street Primary School uses fictional medias to inspire children's creativity at the beginning of the design process; while this project started by asking children to draw an imagined creature. The design process of this project only consists of two stages: brain-storming stage and design outcome, but yet, with the creative inputs from children, creative design outcomes can still be realised.

Figure 6: The design process of children co-design project in Roslyn Primary School

how children drew and built models of the dragon, how they write stories of the dragon, how they built dragon pod, how they made the playground structure to represent the dragon/dragon cave.


5.1 How the new co-design process different from the conventional architectural design process and conventional co-design process?

The conventional architectural design process involves a team of professional architects or an individual professional architect in the design process; while the new co-design process (two case studies in section 4) involves children as designers and university architecture students to facilitate them. Architects are professional who are highly skilled people with years of experience in this industry, but it does not mean that they are creative.

The conventional architectural design process is reviewed in section 1.3 as a problem-solving process. At the beginning of the design process, architects will state the problems through analysing the site and the design brief. Then, further analysis and research will be done after that to find possible solutions to meet the specific needs of the architects and design brief requirements. After that, an experimentation of the possible solutions will be organized to meet the client or publics to receive feedbacks and comments to improve the design. Mock-up models or 3D cad models can be constructed to visualise and test the design. The final stage will be the final solution for the design which concluded by meeting the specific needs of the architects and design brief requirements. The conventional architectural design process are discussed that the process is influenced by the aspect of socio-cultural structures in a given practice (Dindler HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_7"&HYPERLINK "#_ENREF_7" Iversen, 2007). The design process is more restricted to the site constraints and the design has to be corresponding to client's design brief or requirements.

The new co-design processes are much more free and less being limited or influenced by the aspect of socio-cultural. The designs are based on the individual imagination of the child, which staged by fictional narratives in the beginning of the design process. The children can draw anything they want and what they can imagine of. For example, from the co-design in Wales Street Primary School, the children were inspired by the fictional theme of "One World, Two Cities". The Black City and White City were imagination cities which motivated children to imagine and design the fragments of the city or playground (including six bridges, two tunnels, one railway line, five spires/towers, etc.) different to the conventional fragments of the city; from the co-design in Roslyn Primary School, different child drew differently which represent the imaginations of the individual's creativity with just a title "Imagined Creatures".

Table 1: Comparison of conventional architectural design process with the new co-design process.



(Creative Person)

Design Process

(Creative Process)

Conventional Architectural Design Process


State Problem

Analysis and Research

Possible Solutions


Final Solution

Previous (Conventional)

Co-Design Process

Youth Design Programme (Climbing Cocoons &Outdoor Social Space, Flowering Signage, Sustainable Social Spaces)

Children (Client), University students &Architects

Children identified the design problems

Children produced a design brief

Children discussed with university students

University students developed the design concepts

University students produced the design outcomes

New Co-Design Process

Wales Street Primary School

Children (grade 3 &4) &University 1st year architecture students (facilitator)

Fictional Imaginations

Design Development

Design Outcome

Roslyn Primary School

Children (grade 5 &6) &University architecture students (facilitator)

Imaginations from Children

Design Development

Model Building

Choosing best design among children

Design Development

Design Outcome

- Compare both design process diagrams

- Creativity of the design process

5.2 Results Comparison

- Compare both design process diagrams

- Creativity of the design process


6.1 In the process of the two cases, have children's creativity been used in its full extend?

6.2 Limitations in the design process to fully utilize children's creativity in the design process.


The new co-design process: involvement of children as the creative person who involve throughout the whole design process; university architecture students to facilitate the children; and fictional inquiry to inspire the children. Evaluating the creativity of these two co-design projects, it is agreed that the new design process is valid and useful to fully utilise children's creativity to produce creative co-design outcomes.