Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - TRADERS (Training Art and Design Researchers in Participation for Public Space)

For a selection of photographs and visuals - including the project logo - corresponding to the publishable summary, see TRADERS, FINAL REPORT, attachment ‘photographs / visuals, as referenced in the report’.

(1) Project objectives:
TRADERS ( starts from the premise that public space and participation have an essential role in the formation of democracy. Participation increasingly surpasses conventional representation in decision-making, and needs manifold interactive, imaginative and critical forms of dialogue and change. TRADERS aims to train artists, designers, researchers and architects in taking on analytical, incentive and mediating roles in social-artistic and public processes, revealing different interests and tensions between stakeholders, through: (1) developing participatory methodologies, that can help urban dwellers, social organizations and local businesses to be actively involved in the development of public spaces; (2) providing training for significant enterprises in their expanding work markets; (3) developing design-based research methods and strategies in participatory processes; and (4) sharing knowledge on participation in public space with an international learning community. Within these objectives, new participatory methodologies and power aspects of unprivileged or 'tacit' groups (e.g. children) have emerged. The advantage of working with a small group of ESRs, close contacts with associated partners and collaboration through closely linked activities can now be recognized as the knowledge gained in TRADERS that is gradually consolidated, shared and expanded.

(2) Scientific progress of the ESRs:
Corresponding to the five research foci (and meta-framework) of TRADERS (see: ‘2. Project objectives for the period’) six ESRs were recruited. They conducted individual research and collaborated as a team. At the end of the TRADERS project, they have all finished their empirical research and are finalising their theses. Next to that, they have fulfilled courses, seminars, etc. according to local academic and TRADERS requirements, actively participated in conferences, and submitted papers for academic (reviewed) journals. Collectively they organised the exhibition ‘Taking [a] part’ at Z33 (BE) in June 2014,; they organized working tables (e.g. during the ‘Mediations’ conference) and hosted the web platform ‘TRADERS Talk’ ( They collaborated on the anchor case De Unie Hasselt-Genk during two summer schools and contributed to the final deliverables of TRADERS in collaboration with the supervisors involved in the project: Michael Kaethler and Pablo Calderon Salazar organised interactive exhibitions using ‘TRADERS Talk’, Naomi Bueno de Mesquita and Annelies Vaneycken co-edited the TRADERS book, Saba Golchehr co-organised the ‘Mediations’ conference, and Jon Geib co-edited the special issue for the CoDesign journal. Also, all ESRs contributed to the book. All these activities allowed them to further develop academically.

(3) Training: TRADERS’ training program consists of:
(3.1) Supervised involvement. Supervised by experienced academics and experts in the fields of A&D and architecture, the ESRs were involved in: (a) individual cases of local practice in cooperation with associated partners; (b) the shared TRADERS training and anchor case; (c) local academic training; and (d) teaching/lecturing activities at their hosting institutions. For instance, Annelies Vaneycken (UGOT) teached a course on ‘Play and Mobility’ in the Master’s program ‘Child Culture Design’ of HDK, University of Gothenburg (February-May 2017). Associated partners have provided extensive contact networks, cases and practice advice. Moreover, each ESR was involved in working groups for the final project deliverables in collaboration with the TRADERS supervisors and other, external collaborators (e.g. the illustrator and publisher for the TRADERS book).
(3.2) Training-through-Research Synergy (TRS) weeks. TRS weeks have been most fruitful, each of them organized locally by one ESR and his/her supervisor, and with invited experts to guide the exchange and development of knowledge/skills. (1) LUCA organised TRS Week #1 on ‘intervention’ (September 2014, Genk (BE)); (2) UGOT organised TRS Week #2 on ‘play’ (May 2015, Gothenburg (SE)); (3) DAE organised TRS Week #3 on ‘Mapping’ (July 2015, Eindhoven (NL)), (4) RCA organized TRS Week #4 on ‘data mining’ (January 2016, London (UK)) and (5) CHALMERS organized TRS Week #5 on ‘modelling in/and dialogue‘ (May 2016, Gothenburg (SE)).
(3.3) Collaboration with researchers/enterprises from different countries. During the TRS weeks, Summer Schools, the conference, the Open School, the TRADERS book, the ESRs collaborated with international researchers, professionals, etc. For instance, Summer School #2 had 34 participants from Belgium, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, UK, Colombia, Austria, USA and Netherlands. Moreover, the ESRs set up collaborations with other researchers and institutions as part of their individual research.
(3.4) Collaboration with stakeholders that represent future employers. Five ESRs were offered a research and training environment at a public organization or private enterprise for 3-6 months (e.g. art centre ‘Z33’, SME ‘Commonplace Ltd’, The City of Gothenburg, SME ‘KOMPAN A/S’ and SME ‘STBY’). Three of these secondments have initiated continuous, long-term collaborations with the ESRs: e.g. for Pablo Calderon Salazar with the city of Genk (BE). This also generated trans-disciplinary research collaborations with the hosting institutions. Hence, TRADERS knows a direct return-investment in society.
(3.5) Hands-on acquisition of complementary skills. The ESRs acquired transferable skills (in project management, planning, etc.) through the organization of the TRS weeks, Summer Schools, conference and through practice-oriented tasks via their secondments. All ESRs also organized other events (e.g. the exhibition during Participatory Design Conference 2016) and worked towards the project deliverables.
(3.6) Network-wide research training. The ESRs broadened their professional network through collaborations with external researchers and experts through the organisation and participation of/in the public events and publications. (1) Two summer schools took place in Genk (BE), the first ‘On participatory art and design and the public space’ (September/October 2014, (, and the second ‘On the role of Participatory Art and Design in the reconfiguration of work’ (November 2015, Participants were Master- and PhD students, researchers and professionals in A&D, Architecture and other domains, coming from all across Europe. (2) The ‘Mediations’ closing conference of the TRADERS project took place in London (UK, November 2016). The parallel sessions of this conference were organised according to the research tracks of the ESRs. (3) The ‘TRADERS Talk’ platform received 70 submissions since it was set up in 2015, allowing the ESRs to communicate their research with others and exchange ideas. (4) The Open School in April 2018 allowed the ESRs to invite guests speakers/artists/designers and to further develop or test their research. For example, Saba Golchehr organised a workshop together with Søren Rosenbak whom she met during the ‘Mediations’ conference. (5) The TRADERS Book is organised around the ESRs’ research tracks. (6) Finally, the special issue for the CoDesign Journal allowed the researchers to collaborate with other researchers that acted as a reviewer for this special issue.

(4) Main results achieved so far:
Each ESR has researched a methodology that A&D researchers can apply when aiming to enhance participation in public space. Within each individual research process as well as throughout several public events organised by TRADERS, the ESRs were able to share, test and consolidate their research approach and the developed methodology. For example, in Summer School #2 each ESR organised a working table wherein he/she applied the specific method in the central case of TRADERS together with other participants. On an overall level, TRADERS continuously seeked for collaboration with other stakeholders that deal with public space. First, the project broadened its network through the network-wide events such as the TRS Weeks, Summer Schools, conference, etc. Second, the interactive ‘TRADERS Talk’ platform complemented these events. The translation of its online form into physical interactive exhibitions - that took place during the Participatory Design Conference in August 2016, Dutch Design Week in October 2016 and Mediations Conference in November 2016 - stimulated the active discussion and learning community on the platform. Third, the insights of the PhD trajectories of the ERSs were disseminated via the parallel sessions of the ‘Mediations’ Conference (December 2016) and the Open School (April 2017), and via the TRADERS book (for which external experts were invited to share their perspective on each research track). Last, several project results such as the central case De Unie Hasselt-Genk lead to the special issue ‘Co-Design and the public realm’ for the journal CoDesign, ensuring TRADERS’ impact in the academic field. Last, the Open School involved a close collaboration with associated partner Z33, and led to new collaborations with stakeholders working in Hasselt, i.e. the city government, artists and designers and the University of Hasselt.

5) Final results and their potential (socio-economic) impact / use:
With its outcomes TRADERS aims to sustain its community that has grown throughout the project by building long term relationships throughout the project. For example by re-inviting people for different occasions over time. Furthermore TRADERS succeeded to build relationships with other important parties when dealing with public space, e.g. the cultural department of the City of Gothenburg participated in TW#5 that is organised by Chalmers, the ‘Mediations’ conference and other public events in Genk/Hasselt (BE) managed to attract a very diverse group of participants (from academic researchers, and industrial representatives to representatives from the city administration). Herewith we believe TRADERS has succeeded in its goals.

Contact: TRADERS is coordinated by Dr. Veerle Van der Sluys ( and Jessica Schoffelen ( (LUCA School of Arts, Belgium).

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