UrbanBuzz: The Rootscape Project

The Joint Centre for Urban Design at Oxford Brookes University, together with Oxford Youth Works and latterly in association with Mayim, has been running an UrbanBuzz-funded project named Rootscape.

The project has aimed to equip young people with urban design and related skills, to empower them to make a much-needed contribution to the way the built environment is designed. It is widely recognised that child-friendly and youth-friendly urban design is central to building sustainable communities.

No matter how carefully researched, current advice on how to achieve this is articulated from adult perspectives. Rootscape was designed to enable children and young people to contribute to the design process themselves, offer the advice designers need to make better places, and in the process develop a range of employment skills related to their individual interests and aptitudes.

Rootscape was organised in six key phases, which are discussed in more detail in the published documentation of the project.

  • Recruiting participants
  • Team building
  • Initial area analysis
  • Developing concepts and skills through design
  • Area analysis of exemplary places
  • Communicating the final results

At the end of the project, the young people put together an exhibition of all the aspects of the work they had done. The exhibition was created to showcase all the new skills they had learned integrated with other aspects of youth culture such as rap and dance, through performances that the young participants themselves created.