Title: Graphic design tools for Public Engagement. The life-cycle of urban Landmarks and the impact on social identity.

Subject Area

The purpose of this project is to develop a graphic tool for public engagement and to explore the potential of a more socially useful role for graphic visualisation. The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement defines public engagement as ‘A two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.’ The tool focuses on defining and exploring urban-landmarks which confer on a community a great sense of emotional security through that community’s shared experience of it.



  1. To enrich public engagement processes by developing an emotionally driven graphic visual tool that will provide amplification for local voices. It will enable inhabitants to communicate more effectively with commercial stakeholders. Commercial stakeholders will perhaps gain a deeper understanding of what the local communities want through the tool in the context of commercial transformation.


  1. To open a dialogue with all stakeholders in the changing area by looking at the life cycle of built landmarks in London; to explore how local perspectives of built landmarks have been formed and re-formed in the context of emotional security.



Previous research and documentation of other public engagement projects will be evaluated to cement and broaden insights of this scheme. Historical and spatial research relating to and interviews with the current community of Kings Cross will be carried out to aid in the analysis of the life-cycle of landmarks in the area. Consequently, community groups will be identified and relevant stakeholders contacted to reveal which are the important built landmarks.

There will be an innovative approach to engaging people in certain areas of Kings Cross to inform the creation of a proto-type graphic visual tool as a design fiction, which can then be shown to the residents to provoke a reaction, while explaining the strategy to community leaders.

Simultaneously, the generated design fiction will be shared as a creative guideline and discussed with the community groups through the series of workshops. In the workshops, we will explore which built-landmarks are most significant for them and facilitate them in the creation of their own visualized stories as design fiction. Meanwhile, I will take the opportunity to have meetings with commercial stakeholders to present the outcome from the workshops, then I will come back to the locals to explain the stakeholders’ reaction. This cycle will be repeated various times and the graphic visual communication system will be refined and synthesised into a design method. Furthermore, exhibitions will be set up in which the previous cycle’s results will be shown and tested, facilitating and encounters between the local inhabitants and commercial stakeholders.


As a final stage, the project outcomes will be disseminated through various media and practical workshops held at both local and international levels.



Further research to be undertaken into public engagement case studies, through online and print-based resources, and also interviewing public engagement practitioners will be conducted. Highly successful public engagement projects and practitioners will be selected and analysed as multiple case studies, such as Highline in New York, the Design Council’s CABE, the work of Jeremy Till, Proboscis and Spatial Agency to define fairer creative processes for urban regeneration and public engagement. Also the current urban regeneration strategy and process in King’s Cross by Argent and role of built landmarks in providing emotional security among residents will all be analysed.


An ethnographical approach will be adopted to find target local communities and to help articulate latent local perspectives toward the on-going urban regeneration at King’s Cross. The main anticipated target groups are: people living in King’s Cross for over 20 years before the rapid regeneration started (mid 1990s – present), people commuting to King’s Cross for work and finally students who are studying at CSM.


The original engagement process will be undertaken as explained above. The data from this human, physical and historical research will then inform the graphic visual story to be presented to the community and provoke reaction and encourage engagement.

In the series of workshops with locals, the tool will be developed into a creative manual to help inform and educate the local community. They will apply the methods to express their own narratives as a visual graphic/design fiction. Also in the early stage, the workshop will focus more on interactive learning sessions with graphic materials enabling community members to tell their stories visually.

In the participatory part of this project, particularly in the workshops, I will act as a filter, so as not to detract from the local raw voices.

These outcomes will be presented to the commercial stakeholders for evaluation.

This project will be disseminated through a regular on-line report and a dossier containing documentation of all the conferences, workshops and exhibitions. In order to facilitate opportunities for encounters between locals and commercial stakeholders to discuss the development of the area through this project, the exhibitions will be held on emotionally neutral ground for both parties, at Central Saint Martins.


Historical Context

As local public engagement practitioners, I will focus on the work of Jeremy Till who is exploring between scarcity and creativity in the context of the built environment as the project reader of SCIBE. Also the design council’s CABE, Proboscis and Spatial Agency will be analysed as public engagement projects based in UK.

High Line is one of most significant public engagement movement in New York. In 1999, non-profit organisation was formed by Joshua David and Robert Hammond and through their activity, preservation of Line and reused as public open space was committed $50 million by the New York City government in 2004.

Contemporary Context

Until recently, the area of King’s Cross had a mixed reputation for both intellectual culture and as a cheap red-light district. However, the area is now in the midst of a transformation into a cultural hub with new landmarks, such as CSM at Granary Square and the King’s Cross station by Network Rail, John McAslan + Partners and Arup.






Theoretical Context

• Critical Theory

I am relying on this particular Kevin Lynch’s various criteria for imageability to understand how landmarks function in the lives of urban dwellers. In the Image of the city, Kevin’s aim is analysing the mental image of a city which held by its citizens, and research about particular visual image, then these are unified as clarity/legibility (imageability) of the city scape. Going beyond Kevin’s methodology, my consideration will be to focus on landmarks and people’s emotional security.


Done by Bunch of people

Don’t pick up one by one, mention that why these people are important for me.

• Parallel Theory

How to make a visual research is clearly outlined in Rose (2003). I will derive her visual methodologies.

• Projective and Generative Theory

Also, to create a democratic design approach, I will analyse Edward Soja’s idea about spatial justice in the Seeking Spatial Justice (2010), to create connections between politics, inhabitants and various environmental factors.


Prediction of the Form of the Final Presentation 

1. Distinguish final exhibition

2. Exhibition as test

3. Final exhibition

4. Binding book illustration book(not creative industry) describing for anybody.

5. Written thesis




Design tools

Year 1:

Oct 2012 – July 2013

Autumn • Basic research about urban design methods and strategy.    
Spring • Looking at Public engagement projects by other institutions and design organisations. • Approaching to community groups in King’s Cross  
Summer • The current urban re-generation strategy and process in King’s Cross • The project will be explained to the leaders of them.

• Collecting local dwellers’ stories

• Visual presentation will be created to explain this project.

• Collected local stories will be visualised as graphical documents.

Year 2:

Oct 2013 – July 2014

Autumn • Research about Visual story telling methods. • To explain the current situation for the inhabitants.

• Demonstrate how people’s voices can be empowered by graphic design.

• To educated inhabitants, visual description of the Argent’s process will be provided to inhabitants.
Spring   • Contacting to developers to present the project.  
Year 3:

Oct 2014 – July 2015

Autumn • Cultural studies to apply to different cultures and industries.   • The tools will be shared and found by design educators, design professionals, architects and developers




dissemination by the web, conference and workshops.



Main Study List and Bibliography


  • Park, E. Ernest, B. Roderick, M. (1967) The City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (2013) What is the Public Engagement? [Internet] Available from: <http://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/what> [accessed January 10th 2013]
  • Hoyt, H. (1972) The Structure and Growth of Residential Neighbourhoods in American Cities. Washington, D.C.: Scholarly; Reprint edition.
  • Soja, E. (1989) Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. London: Verso.
  • Soja, E. (2010) Seeking Spatial Justice. Volume 16 of Globalization and Community Series. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Lynch, K. (1995) City Sense and City Design: Writings and Projects of Kevin Lynch MIT Press
  • Lynch, K. (1960) The Image of the City. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,.
  • Lefebvre, H. (1991) The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Boyer, C. (1994) The City of Collective Memory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Finnegan, R. (1998) Tales of the City. Cambridge University Press,
  • Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. London: Sage Publications Ltd
  • Laurel, B (2003) Design Research: Methods and Perspectives. London: MIT Press
  • David, J. Hammond, R. (2011) High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky : Farrar Straus Giroux.

Merrick, J (2012) Transforming King’s Cross. London: Merrell

  • Spatial Agency. The means through which this action or product is achieved. [Internet] Available from: <http://www.spatialagency.net>
  • [accessed December 1st 2012]
  • PROBOSCIS (2012) pioneers of pie in the sky | makers of mischief. [Internet] Available from: <http://proboscis.org.uk>
  • [accessed December 1st 2012]
  • CABE (2012) the Commision for Architecture and the Built Environment. [Internet] Available from: <http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk>
  • [accessed December 1st 2012]