New social complexities are emerging amid the rapid transformations of the contemporary city. Participatory Design is an approach
that involves citizens—including children—in collaborative design processes that strive to find innovative ways of navigating
and thriving in these new complexities. However, these interactive processes often rely on traditional adult-based and designer-based
language—that is, spoken and written words, plans, diagrams and prototypes.
The workshop Look! There, in the distance... departs from psychologist and pedagogue Loris Malaguzzi’s belief that children
show their understanding and express their thoughts and creativity in many different ways. With his Hundred Languages of children,
Malaguzzi states that children have numerous diverse ways of thinking, revising, constructing, negotiating, developing and
symbolically expressing their thoughts and feelings. Children use drawing and sculpting, dance and movement, painting and
pretend play, modelling and music as bases for building plural knowledge.
The workshop challenges a group of MA Social Design students from the University of Applied Arts Vienna to playfully initiate
and explore non-verbal ways of dialoguing with participating children (ages 3-6 years) about their urban surroundings. It
focuses on the role of performance-based languages in collaborative design processes with children. The workshop aims to investigate
this specifically with children and pedagogues from Städtischer Kindergarten, Am Stadtpark 4 in their nearby public space:
the Stadtpark (City Park).
The workshop outcome is a non-verbal ‘lexicon’, presenting approaches to and reflections on how children think, revise, construct,
negotiate, develop and symbolically express their thoughts and feelings related to their local urban public space (issues),
through various ways of non-verbal dialoguing.