5. Empowering design practices: exploring relations between architecture, faith, society and community

This Katerina Alexiou, Theodore Zamenopoulos, Vera Hale, Susie West (The Open University) and Sophia de Sousa (The Glass-House Community Led Design)

Published under Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0


This paper presents and discusses some key insights derived from a collaborative research project called Empowering Design Practices. The project brought together a multidisciplinary team of academic and non-academic partners to explore the processes, resources and environments that support community-led design practice in the context of historic places of worship. The paper discusses barriers and opportunities surrounding the development and adaptation of historic places of worship as community hubs, and proposes a set of approaches that can help empower those looking after those places to re-imagine and design the future of their places while respecting complex faith, architectural, societal and community values.

Keywords: community leadership in design, historic places of worship, heritage management, architecture, empowerment, community engagement

Full text: OAJ_Issue9_EDP_Final (PDF 4.8 MB).

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5456/issn.2050-3679/2020w05

Biographical notes 

Dr Katerina Alexiou is a Senior Lecturer in Design at The Open University. She has published articles in design cognition, collaborative design, learning, creativity, social aspects of design and complexity science. Her most recent research activity is focussed on co-design and co-production with civil society organisations and communities engaged in place-making and creative civic action.

Dr Theodore Zamenopoulos is a Senior Lecturer in Design at The Open University. He is a professional architect with expertise on design cognition, community-led design practices and complexity research. His research focuses on the conditions that foster design thinking in everyday life and empower people to develop their ideas into social innovations.

Vera Hale is a Lecturer in the Design Group at The Open University. She is also finalising her PhD at the Sheffield School of Architecture. Her interests are focused around sustainable design processes in the built environment.

Dr Susie West is a Senior Lecturer in Art History and Heritage in the Department of Art History at The Open University; previously working as a Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage. She has a strong interest in heritage values within official systems and the public understanding of heritage.

Sophia de Sousa is Chief Executive at The Glass-House Community Led Design and sits on a number of advisory groups and panels promoting design quality and collaborative placemaking. Sophia is an impassioned champion and enabler of community-led, participatory and co-design practice and research, with extensive experience in delivering hands-on training and support to community groups and professionals.