Latona, Ashley Anne
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This thesis explores the role of participation in the construction of architecture. It consists of designing a playground and exploring how the environment may allow people to design it. A playground is a type of architectural design, which encourages play as a form of participation. Participation can be defined and categorized on multiple levels ranging from full participation to pseudo participation. Each of these categories must be understood in order to determine what a truly participatory system is, and how to design such a system. Participation may be defined through several components such as the participant's design input, the participant's interaction and modification of the design space, time, and the participant's preferences. In order to study participation through architectural design, a playground will be redesigned and developed as a modular system (kit of parts). The kit will contain components, which can be arranged and modified to create a unique wholeness, which can deal with the participant's ability to change kit configuration, physicality, function and usage over time. Participation in an architectural environment is not common. The way that we interact with our environment is dictated by predetermined and fixed architecture and results in the users lack of influence or even interest to change the architectural environment. It is important to study what kind of participation an environment would provide whether it is designing, creating, adding, altering, or affecting the function of the built environment over time based on usage, needs, preferences, and aesthetic desires. Through this research there is the potential for finding an indeterminate, evolving architecture, which can learn from as well as teach the user, thereby becoming equal participants of the system. The research will be a continuation and refinement of the research into precedents, which allow user input. Particularly, the research will draw upon theories on participatory design in the work of Yona Friedman, Reyner Banham, Nicholas Negroponte, Cedric Price, as well as other designers and theorists present at the Design Participation Conference in 1970. The research will also look at architects such as Aldo van Eyck, Louis Kahn, Lawrence Halprin and David Rockwell and the work that they have each done on playground design. The thesis will include the designing and building of systems based on a kit of parts, as well as designing the architecture for a 'playground', which can potentially be engaged by a user participating with it. The design will theoretically use a plot of land, which is located in the city of Buffalo as the site and context for the 'playground' system design. The expected outcome of this thesis will include a thorough theoretical understanding of different forms and levels of architectural participation, physical prototypes of the 'playground' system (kit of parts) and the creation of a variable and evolving environment through this system.