SchoolArts Magazine

MAR 2013

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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DESIGN THINkING The Charrette: A Community Process Martin Rayala D esigners working on largescale community projects with many stakeholders often use a process referred to as a "charrette." Charrettes are a common process in urban planning. Students can learn to use the charrette process to address community related design challenges and actually help strengthen community bonds. The Charrette "Charrette" refers to a collaborative process in which a multidisciplinary group of designers, with the input of many stakeholders, create solutions to design problems. Charrettes usually involve several intense sessions over a limited period of time to allow for the integration of needs and expectations of a diverse group of people. The goal of a charrette is to produce a feasible and compelling plan with minimal effort that benefits from the input of all stakeholders, creates a shared vision, and can be embraced by the whole community. In a school setting, stakeholders might include students, teachers, administrators, community members, parents, and family members. Part of the challenge of a charrette is to identify and invite the widest range of input possible. How about inviting former students, the custodial staff, or the fire marshall? The Charrette Process When a complex project with many stakeholders has been identified, one of the first steps is to gather all interested people to present the scope and intent of the work. Next, a time-frame and mechanism is set up to allow for an intense period of public input and discussion with designers over a series of days. The design team integrates suggestions and concerns in a way that satisfies the stakeholders, acknowledges that concerns have been heard, and presents design solutions that delight all concerned. During the charrette, the design team develops preliminary designs for public review. The full 8 Community murals are often developed through a charrette process. This mural, located in Denton, Texas, was created by public school and university students. design is not completed at the end of the charrette, but the broad strokes have been outlined to enable the design team to develop a detailed plan and implement the finished project. process is to work through everyone's concerns until a surprising solution is developed that meets or exceeds the expectations of everyone involved. Win-lose scenarios become win-win realities through the charrette process. Benefits of the Charrette Process A well-executed charrette can help Honoring Community mitigate potential confrontations The charrette process is the way among stakeholders. How many designers honor community by listimes have teachers and students cretening respectfully to everyone's ated an innovative concerns, needs, project only to find Students can learn to use and ideas. It that it conflicts strengthens comthe charrette process to with administramunity trust and address community related wins approval by tive or board rules, design challenges and parental concerns, acknowledging the actually help strengthen or the support of needs of everyone other teachers or in the community. community bonds. students? Providing The charrette proopportunities for early and widespread cess leaves participants happy with input can eliminate many of these the result and gives them a sense of concerns by enabling joint ownership empowerment, self-expression, freeand community buy-in. dom, and satisfaction while providing a delightful new vision now and for Beyond Compromise future generations. Traditional group collaborations are Martin Rayala is the editor of andDESIGN often characterized by compromise, magazine. andDESIGNmagazine@gmail. concessions, conciliation, majority com rule, and power-plays in which someone feels they have given up their WEb Link desires and conceded to the wishes of others. The point of the charrette

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