How to facilitate participation with local partners?Ability to represent spatial ideas is an indispensable part of architectural practice.


Representations of architecture are tools, used for both design and communication purposes. However, the way you represent an architectural project varies widely depending on situation, intent, dialogue partner and materials at hand.

Participatory design is a strong tool to empower and to create ownership of the projects. But achieving honest and equal participation is difficult and often requires specific tools to enable real communication. 

Model building is a physical practice and therefore a good way of initiating participatory processes.

Mapping might be an early way of unfolding layers of a community or a place.

A building manual conceived at the end of a project serves well for passing the gained knowledge on to others but also presenting the results to sponsors.


Everyone understands a model

Building a vocational school on a relocation site on the Cambodian countryside

“As a consequence of meeting the community before even starting the design, we felt a strong obligation to fulfill our responsibilities towards them even though we had limited time, both for raising money and completing the construction. We made the first sketches on site in order to get direct feedback from the locals. We then used a physical model to further develop ideas together with the community.

The models also proved useful for common reference on site during construction for the non-architect and the professional builders, the physical model making the whole project a lot more accessible.”


Architects Rudanko + Kankkunen


Communication through design

Achieving environmental protection in a pacific setting, through culturally cherished architecture

“The project followed Fijian spatial values throughout. The placement of the toilets in the village was decided after a local investigation of how spaces here traditionally relate to each other.

The small buildings got their aesthetic expression directly from the surrounding architecture. What we added was a layer of functions and low-tech solutions designed to leverage some of the pressures that human life puts on the environment.”

Architectural Environmental Strategies


Sketching is sometimes a short step away from building

Planning to do architectural research and ending up building a school in Mozambique

The idea sketches,the planning and the building were all done as parallel processes and much relied on the simple sketches of details. We used what we had at hand to make construction drawings – schematic sections became a necessary tool to communicate our ideas during building. The sections are drawn fast and they give a lot of information on how to get about the building process. Using these basic drawings we came to build the school in 19 days.

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