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Making shared places work through research and co-design

*Image courtesy of refresh design

Together with residents, service providers, architects and the Queensland Department of Housing we co-designed the requirements for the shared spaces of a new type of social housing development. We researched best practice models and co-developed a context-specific architectural solution for shared spaces in social housing.



  • Research-based evidence to inform shared spaces design in social housing

  • Co-designed process with tenants and service providers

  • Demonstration of the value of co-design with community

From community engagement to community involvement

Shared spaces in social housing developments are contested as they are said to cause social tension. Yet at their best they can unlock more space for more social housing and help create a community for residents. As one of 20 demonstration projects under the prestigious Density Diversity Done Well competition, the development sets new standards not just for addressing the ‘missing middle’ but for using user research and engagement to inform design. 

After a thorough literature review into the psychological aspects of shared spaces and into successful models of housing internationally we developed design principles based around activities, biophilic design and others.

After a period of site observations, we ran a series of tenant workshops as well as one on one interviews with residents, recording and analysing their daily lives and their underlying needs for the shared spaces in the new development.


The insights from this helped us deliver a successful design strategy that aligned the architect team, two client teams, and other stakeholders such as occupational therapists. Most importantly, it delivered a concept for unique, tailored and socially successful shared spaces, driven by knowledge on its users. See the details of the designed solution here. 

People Gathering in a Meeting Together

*Image courtesy of refresh design

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Ready to find out more? Contact us today for a free consultation on your project.

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