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How Spaceshaper works

Spaceshaper uses a questionnaire and a facilitated workshop to measure the quality of a public space.

This allows you to invest time and money wisely in improving the space.

To start, you'll need to invite people along who are interested in the space, both users and professionals. Depending on the type of space you're looking at, users could include elderly and young people, dog walkers and office workers. Professionals could include planners, the maintenance team and designers. A trained Spaceshaper facilitator will need to advise and run the workshop.

Completing the questionnaire

A site visit is an integral part of the process and prepares the participants to fill out the Spaceshaper questionnaire which records individual perceptions of the space. Spaceshaper captures these perceptions by rating the site against 41 characteristics. It covers eight specific areas:

  • access: finding your way and getting about
  • use: what activities and opportunities the space has to offer
  • other people: how the space caters for different needs
  • maintenance: how clean and cared for the space is
  • environment: how safe and comfortable the space is
  • design and appearance: what the space looks like and what materials it uses
  • community: how important the space is to local people
  • you: how the space makes you feel.

Facilitating the workshop

During the workshop the facilitator inputs the data into the Spaceshaper software. The facilitator presents the results to the group, provoking discussion and debate.

The most important part of the whole process is the discussion between those with the knowledge of what it is like to use the space and those whose job it is to care for it. What you get from using the toolkit depends on your original objectives. These can include:

  • identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a space
  • establishing what is most important to people
  • measuring how well the space meets everyone's needs
  • stimulating new ideas for improvements
  • comparing different people's views
  • tracking changes in people's views over time
  • bringing staff and users together in a structured way to discuss the space.

Who should use Spaceshaper?

Spaceshaper is designed for people that have a willingness to bring about change for a space, since using the toolkit will encourage discussion on how the site can be improved. Spaceshaper is used for assessing existing sites but can also be used when planning new sites.

'The toolkit should be used as one element of a broader process of consultation, as opposed to the only form. However it can be used in isolation, depending on circumstance. Our team would be happy to discuss this with you.  Nor is it a one-off activity. Taking the time to engage with a diverse representative group of people interested in the space is essential to gaining a true reflection of the people who use the space. Working in partnership will help build relations with hard-to-reach groups.

It is important that you listen to the views of children and young people as part of any consultation. Spaceshaper 9-14 has been developed specifically for children and young people, to make sure that their opinions are counted.

Apply to run a Spaceshaper workshop

  1. Contact Kent Architecture Centre to get the latest list of approved facilitators
  2. Fill in the application form (http://www.dqi.org.uk/spaceshaper/apply/editapplication.aspx)
  3. Send the completed form to spaceshaper@cabe.org.uk (we need one week to turn this around).