The TRADERS project ran from
1 September 2013 until 31 August 2017. This website remains active and can be consulted as an archive of the process and outcomes of the project.
Find out more.

Six complementary research approaches/methods:
Multiple performative mappings
Modelling in dialogue

Upcoming book presentations of Trading Places: Practices of Public Participation in Art and Design Research.

In September we launched the book Trading Places: Practices of Public Participation in Art and Design Research. The book is one of the results of an intense collaboration among the six TRADERS partner institutions: Design Academy Eindhoven, Chalmers, Royal College of Art, KU Leuven, HDK Academy of Design and Crafts, and LUCA School of Arts. But the book has contributions that go beyond the borders of our TRADERS consortium. The following people have made a contribution to the book: Sophia Krzys Accord, Henric Benesch, Ethel Baraona Pohl, Naomi Bueno de Mesquita, Pablo Calderon Salazar, Reem Charif, Catharina Dyrssen, Adrian Friend, Jon Geib, Saba Golchehr, Mohamad Hafeda, Susannah Hagan, David Hamers, Hilde Heynen, Liesbeth Huybrechts, Michael Kaethler, Ida Elisabet Liffner, Ruth Mateus-Berr, Chris Perkins, Anne van Oppen, César Reyes Najera, Meike Schalk, Jessica Schoffelen, Diana Tanase, Veerle Van der Sluys, Annelies Vaneycken.

There will be book presentations during LUCA Showcase (October 23-27, in Ghent, Belgium), Dutch Design Week (October 21-29, in Eindhoven, Netherlands) and HDK’s Open Week (November 20-27, in Gothenburg, Sweden). Similar book presentations will be organized in our partner institutions. So keep an eye out on our facebook page for updates.
The book can be purchased online, in paperback or as a digital copy.

About the book

Trading Places rethinks, develops, and tests design-driven practices and methods to engage with participation in public space and public issues. With this book we aim to help art and design researchers, stTRADERS bookudents, practitioners, and the multiple stakeholders they collaborate with, to explore what participatory ways of working in our contemporary urban environment entail. Six approaches are discussed: intervention, performative mapping, play, data mining, modelling in dialogue, and curating. Each approach offers a different kind of logic and produces a different type of knowledge. Trading Places invites the reader to discover common ground, explore new territories, and exchange points of view – in short, to trade perspectives on issues of participation.

TRADERS allows to bundle the strength of disciplines such as art, design, architecture, and urbanism to commonly approach and challenge other disciplines and sectors.

TRADERS opens up the debate about the roles that art and design research can play in engaging people in public space and public issues.

Title: Trading Places. Practices of Public Participation in Art and Design Research
Editors: David Hamers, Naomi Bueno de Mesquita, Annelies Vaneycken & Jessica Schoffelen
Editorial support: Anne van Oppen
Copy-editing: Daniel Lacasta Fitzsimmons
Graphic design printed book: Numa / Merino
e-Book coding and design: dpr-barcelona
Cover and inner illustrations:
Date: April 2017
ISBN: 978-84-944873-9-2
Formats: paperback | eBook .mobi | ePub
Publisher: dpr-barcelona


Read More

TRADERS researcher Saba Golchehr was interviewed by Rosanna Vitiello for the research project Local Legends on the critical role of the storyteller in a data driven world.

‘Data holds power. But the most important thing is the story you tell with it.’

“At a time when the smart cities, surveillance and the predictive policing of The Minority Report seem more fact than fiction, researcher Saba Golchehr is something of a social superhero. Championing the democratisation of data mining in the design of our public spaces, she explores how Big Data doesn’t have to become ‘Big Brother’ — but can in fact be the starting point for alternative narratives that give a voice to underrepresented sectors of society. Saba takes a break from her PhD research at London’s Royal College of Art to talk with us about Big Data, shifting powers in local participation, and how social media data can support participatory design.”

Read the full conversation here.


In conversation with Kollier Din Bangura, a local entrepreneur who runs an art gallery and is interested in empowering African and Carribbean businesses

Read More

The Office for Public Play organised a symposium on the role of the designer as ‘contractor’ in participatory design projects with children and young adults. The symposium took place on February 22th and was hosted at HDK Academy of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg.

This half day symposium assembled MA child culture design-students and stakeholders of the Björkås’ activity park as means to prepare for developing this participatory design project. The three invited speakers, Kerstin Bergendal (artist, PARKLEK project), Amanda Larsson (artist, Magisk trädgård project) and Markus Miessen (architect and spatial designer, Crossbenching practice), shared their perspectives and knowledge by presented their work. This input served as base for further reflection and discussion between the students, stakeholders and invited speakers to kick off the collaborative process. The main question that directed the presentations and discussion focussed on the role of making contracts that prescribes ways of working as well as making contracts / contracting (as verb) as a way of performqing participatory design practices and this in relation to the different actors involved in such collaborative, participatory design processes.


Read More

As one of the six international partners of the TRADERS, the RCA’s School of Architecture hosted our project’s closing conference on the 21–22 November 2016. After three years of multidisciplinary research and a wide range of international events such as Autumn Schools, training weeks and exhibitions, we aimed to open the project up to a wider audience in a cross-disciplinary conference titled ‘Mediations – Art & Design Agency and Participation in Public Space’.



The theme of ‘Mediations’ for the project’s closing conference relates to the activities of artists and designers working in the context of public space. Here they must deal with discrepancies between a multiplicity of forces, concerns and ‘actors’: forces can be political, economic, environmental or legal; concerns relate to areas like social justice, privatisation and digitisation, and the actors are the citizens, policy makers, or urban planners. Artists and designers who aim to empower citizens need to mediate between various aspirations in order to help bring about desired social and political change. Mediations take shape between different stakeholders and situations, from client to public, within top­-down and bottom-up models, between theory and practice, ideas and action. During the conference, the means, modes and practices used by artists and designers to mediate between multiple actors and diverse agencies were questioned.

One of the key conference aims was to scrutinise the ethical implications, such as artists’ and designers’ accountability, that are inherent to participatory processes yet often remain underexplored by practitioners when working with, or in service of, the public. The conference therefore explored how artists and designers can become critically aware of their agency in the pursuit of empowering publics in decision-making and co-creation in relation to public space(s). The keynote speakers Ramia Mazé (Department of Design, Aalto University), Jane Rendell (The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL), Susannah Hagan (University of Westminster) and Usman Haque (Umbrellium) explored how different participatory approaches can reconfigure existing power relations in art and design processes, looking at issues of gender, changing attitudes towards the design and production of public spaces over the last decades, and how new technologies can promote greater citizen participation in the design, use and sustainability of public space.

registration img_0078

Read More


The programme for our TRADERS Closing Conference ‘MEDIATIONS – Art & Design Agency and Participation in Public Space’ is now available here. Register for our conference here until November 4th!

Read More

TW5_Book_of_Voice-Illustrations_coverThroughout the fifth TRADERS Training Week, ‘Modelling in Dialogue’ (TW5), which took place in Gothenburg 23-25 May 2016, Ida Liffner and Marthe Roosenboom of Studio Goja were invited not only to document vignettes from and participate in the proceedings (primarily lectures and an artistic workshop, reading group and dialogue) but also to be free to ‘speak’ through their illustrations.

These ‘voice-illustrations’, then, made on-site and re-assembled in full here in a 170-page digital publication, constitute an ambiguous accentuation of the already expressive aspect of representation. The mode and degree of inflection of voices is ostensibly indeterminate though more-or-less graspable by way of participants’ own memories.

Special thanks to Mohamed El Sioufi for the inspiring spark which led to this.

The Book of Voice-Illustrations is available as a pdf at this link (46mb).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

About TW5: (full report at a later date)

Modelling in Dialogue was the fifth and final ‘Training Week’ (TW) [formally: ‘Training-through-Research Synergy’ or ‘TRS week’] of the EU project TRADERS.  TW5 foregrounded artistic and cultural approaches to dialogue and participation, emphasizing the role of multivocality in both design aims and methods as well as the strategic role of institutions–especially those of the public sector–in supporting and advancing societal change in collaboration with artists and designers.  Children’s and youth’s rights and perspectives, along with pedagogies linked with art, design and participation were also featured.  A variety of academic, artistic and cultural actors, including the public, were engaged.

This three-day event was designed, planned, coordinated and hosted by TRADERS ESR (Early Stage Researcher) Jon Geib in collaboration with his host institution, Chalmers University of Technology, Department of Architecture and TRADERS associated partner, Göteborgs Stad Kulturförvaltningen (Gothenburg Cultural Department).

The TW5 Program is available as a pdf at this link.


Read More

Children of Dampoort in dialogue about their rights for child friendly space in the city

Office for Public Play invited a group of children, aged 9-12 year, to explore, imagine and rethink their neighbourhood’s public space in relation to child culture and child friendliness. Dampoort is neighbourhood in Ghent in full transition. An urban renewal project was drawn up to revive the neighbourhood into one with more qualitative living: better housing, sustainable mobility, encouraging entrepreneurship and a greener, more climate-neutral neighbourhood. Citizens were invited to participate in this process, initiated by the city of Ghent.

Office for Public Play had a particular interested in children’s position in this context. How do local children experience their current neighbourhood? How they envision change? How to actively involve a group of local children related discourses that may contribute to processes of decision-making? Within the Pace-setters & Front-runners project, Office for Public Play initiated a series of playful dialogues: within the multicultural child group and between the children and other actors involved, such as their parents and local policy makers.

The concept of desire lines or ‘slow paths’ was used to explore informal ways of city planning (how do children playfully appropriate and envision public spaces) and rethink child friendly places in the city (slow paths being paths that are not accessible for cars).

In a first stage, the children explored and re-explored their neighbourhood through a series of play activities and ‘re-looking’ (Herrekijkers) exercises. This generated the ‘Front-runners Map’ with criteria for child friendly space in the city. In a second phase the children focussed on narrating imaginary places. Their stories, together with stories about child friendly places written by parents and policy makers, were collected in the ‘Invisible Paths’ book. These stories were used as material to initiate dialogue with Schepen Decruynaere, local policy maker for Education and Youth. The playful dialogue was triggered by a chair dance and shaped through role-play. Another dialogue was shaped with Schepen Watteeuw, local policy maker for Mobility, where the children negotiated their list of rights they want to acquire for child friendly space in the city.

Dialogue-shapers is part of the Pace-setters & Front-runners project by Trage Wegen VZW and zZmogh and a design researcher ‘Office for Public Play’. Dialogue-shapers was hosted at Pastory.
More information: and


Read More

Proposal & Call for submissions to a collection of essays to put forward the notion of [urban interfaces] as the lens through which to explore how situated media, art, and performances constitute and construct contemporary urban public spaces. TRADERS researcher Naomi Bueno de Mesquita (Design Academy Eindhoven) has formed part of the core team of [urban interfaces] – a platform for a critical investigation of urban interfaces for creative and participatory engagement at the crossing of academic research and cultural practices – since September 2014 and will contribute to this essay with a paper for the track Urban Navigation. Important deadline for this call: July 1st 2016

UI call black new

Read More

On the 22nd of April 2016 TRADERS researcher Naomi Bueno de Mesquita organised a workshop together with Wouter Meys, Maarten Groen and Nazli Cila from Citizen Data Lab at University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam. Jelle Vrieswijk (a communication multimedia design student) assisted in the graphic communication and documentation.

In the workshop Creating Grassroots initiative blueprints by mapping the city, the tools Buurtinzicht and the web app Measuring Java were explored. Both tools were specifically designed for this day. With the collected data and other data-sets a story was built around a specific issue in a co-creation mapping session. The aim of the day was to engage with the following questions:

  • How participatory tools can be used/useful to make a blueprint of a specific issue on neighbourhood scale.
  • How to mine and map data, using a variety of data-sets (open data, social media data and collected data) as to build a story around an issue.
  • How the created blueprints can be used to support grassroots initiatives.

The workshop formed part of the conference Design & The City (Amsterdam). Design & The City explores citizens-centred design approaches for the smart city. The central theme is the role of design(ers) to create opportunities and practices for citizens, (social) entrepeneurs and policy makers towards more liveable, sustainable and sociable urban futures. The workshop took place on the last day of the conference on the FabCity Campus on Java Island in Amsterdam. FabCity is a temporary and freely accessible campus open between 1 April until 26 June 2016 at the head of Amsterdam’s Java Island in the city’s Eastern Harbour District. Conceived as a green, self-sustaining city, FabCity comprises of approximately 50 innovative pavilions, installations and prototypes. Students, professionals, artists and creatives are developing the site into a sustainable urban area, where they work, create, explore and present their solutions for current urban issues. The participants come from various educational backgrounds, including art and technology academics, universities and vocational colleges.

Website_map lowres copy copy

Read More

The Research Show at A-Venue 6 April –23 April 2016

The Research Show presents work in progress from art and design researchers who are currently pursuing doctoral studies at HDK and Valand Academy, both artistic faculties of the University of Gothenburg. The exhibition features works by André Alves, Eva la Cour, Kerstin Hamilton, Annelies Vaneycken (Office for Public Play ), Arne Kjell Vikhagen, and Eva Weinmayr. The exhibition has been curated by Cora Hillebrand, Ram Krishna Ranjan, and Mick Wilson.

The lunchtime talk on April 20th, a conversation between Arne Kjell Vikhagen and Annelies Vaneycken, explores current research ideas of “play” and “game” in art and design practices and research.

DSC04978 DSC04966

Read More