Red studio – Community engagement

Community engagement is essential to the success of any project. At Red Studio, we understand the critical role that community engagement plays in shaping the spaces we create. Our goal as architects is to design spaces that reflect the unique needs and desires of the community we serve. We are passionate about working alongside our clients to develop creative design solutions that reflect their goals. This is why we put listening at the heart of this process. Listening is the key to designing for diversity and inclusion. We believe that everyone’s voice needs to be heard. As a result, we create safe spaces for everyone to speak their mind.   

One method we use to facilitate engagement and ensure that all community members are heard and can give their opinions in a safe space is an activity we call “dot-ocracy”. This approach can help to create a sense of ownership and investment in the design process, leading to a more successful outcome. We recently used this method on one of our clients, the Danforth Church. They are a small yet mighty LGBTQ+ affirming church community in Toronto. Their church is undergoing major renovations, and for this project, we are in an Architect Advisory Role to the church providing oversight for developing their new internal space.   

Red studio engagement

Red studio – Community engagement

To understand the feeling of their future space, we set up, in a gallery-style manner, many different types of images pinned up on the walls that could evoke the sense of the future space. We gave all our participants several red dots and green dots and let them vote on images that they would like the future space to feel like and what they would not like it to feel like. The process takes about half a day and fosters rich discussion about the future of the space. During the process, we give the participants an outlet to vocalize and articulate designs they usually wouldn’t know how to articulate. We love that participants become the designers of their future space in this setting. They describe feelings, emotions, and perspectives, allowing their imagination to roam free with ideas. Ultimately, we gain valuable insight into what future interventions could be to make this space truly their space. 

From this, we are able to translate, dissect and develop a design language and strategy for the project. It allows us to make sure the intentions of our clients are heard and delivered through a very interactive and collaborative approach. We are still in the early stages for the project, and can’t wait to see how it develops.