Filed under: Development 2.0 Governance Social inclusion Social innovation

It was only weeks ago that I learned what a community design centre is, and now we’re going to try to create one!

The topic of community design centres came up in a discussion on innovation our project team was having with Daniel Cosentino, Director of Media Programs, at the American University in Kosovo. We were brainstorming ways to improve the lives of average Kosovars, and as soon as we heard about the concept of a community design centre, we knew this would a great way to get people involved in making positive change in their communities.

What is a community design centre?

Community design centres bring together experts in areas such as architecture, planning and design to provide their services to those communities least able to afford such services. The goal of a community design centre is to promote, assist and invest in creative and sustainable community development projects in underserved areas.

Community design centres work by involving local citizens and representatives of local government in the development and implementation of projects that will benefit the community.

The community design centre concept ticked all the right boxes for us:

  • Involvement with community design centres gives local citizens a voice and engages them in bettering their own communities.
  • Community design centres put pressure on local governments to be more responsive to community demands and lessen the pressure on the municipal departments who are typically responsible for implementing community projects.
  • A community design centre project could become part of our crowdfunding platform for municipal and community projects in Prizren and Gjilan/Gnjilane.

A month later, it is still early days, but we have a pretty good idea of how we want the community design centre to look. Instead of establishing structures and organizations, we are planning to go ahead with a loose coalition of enthusiastic volunteers who will come together on a project-by-project basis.

How will it work?

Here’s how we’re planning to implement the community design centre:

  1. A citizen will submit an idea for a community project (for example, creating more green space or building a library) on the crowdfunding platform.
  2. Once the idea gets 500 electronic signatures and is approved by the municipality, the project will be placed for funding commitments on the crowd-funding platform.
  3. Once the project is fully funded, local citizens, local government officials, and students of architecture, construction, and design from the University of Pristina and the American University in Kosovo will begin consultations on how best to implement the project.
  4. Architecture students will then create the design of the project, and will receive academic credits for their work.

We have a daunting challenge ahead of us, but we hope that within the next six months, we’ll see the successful completion of our first project. Stay tuned for more!