Addressing the needs of the end-user is at the heart of most public design and architecture commissions, but co-design takes this process a stage further. Lynda Relph-Knight considers one such initiative, a new national youth centre scheme

The debate about co-design rages on. Can ordinary folk be trusted to create things alongside design professionals or at least be more integrated into the process. Or should they be cast forever in the role of client or mere user?

In fact, it is only really the terminology that is new. The community architecture movement of the 1980s went much along those lines – though planning permission is only granted if an architect has signed off the scheme.

And in design a form of co-creation has been going on for some time – not least under the auspices of The Sorrell Foundation with its Joined Up Design For Schools initiative, which links school students with designers for projects to improve school life.

Now the foundation, set up by Sir John and Lady Frances Sorrell, is applying the same principles to youth centres and seeking Lottery funding to support 15 schemes for centres across the country (DW 29 October). Joined Up Design for My Place is part of a bigger £272m scheme run by the Big Lottery Fund for the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The Sorrell project marries architects and branding consultancies with young people in areas covered by the scheme. Architectural aspects rely on securing funding, but the branding, a small sample of which is featured here, is largely complete. According to project manager Will Sorrell, students said seeing the branding on T-shirts brought their dreams closer to reality, bringing their projects to life.

If the projects go ahead, 2011 should see the completion of the centres. It could also see design playing a key role in boosting creativity among young people and tackling youth crime.


Bath – SHH Architects (architecture and branding), Anne Engel (creative adviser)
Birmingham – Marks Barfield (architecture), Interbrand (branding), Elizabeth Lynch (creative adviser)
Brent – Urban Salon (architecture), Graphic Thought Facility (branding), William Warren (creative adviser)
Bristol – Stride Treglown (architecture), Spy Design (branding), Anne Engel (creative adviser)
Doncaster – Bauman Lyons (architecture), Andy Edwards (branding), John Newbigin (creative adviser)
Hastings – Jonathan Dunne and CTM Architects (architecture), Rob Andrews (branding), Elizabeth Lynch (creative adviser)
Hornsey – VHH (architecture), Morag Myerscough (branding), Elizabeth Lynch (creative adviser)
Newcastle – Fletcher Priest (architecture), Elmwood (branding), Elizabeth Lynch (creative adviser)
Newham – Hawkins Brown (architecture), Sea Design (branding), William Warren (creative adviser)
Oldham – Mike Davies of Rogers Stirk Harbour and Mark Serventi (architecture), Rob Andrews (branding), William Warren (creative adviser)
Stockton – Building Design Partnership (architecture), Atelier Works (branding)
Stowmarket – Gumuchdjian Architects (architecture), Pentagram (branding), John Newbigin
(creative adviser)
Torbay – Feilden Clegg Bradley (architecture), ASHA (branding), John Newbigin (creative adviser)
Trafford – Ellis Williams (architecture), Love Creative (branding), William Warren (creative adviser)
Wakefield – Bauman Lyons (architecture), Andy Edwards (branding), John Newbigin (creative adviser)

Latest articles