When Reality Kicks In: Exploring the Influence of Local Context on Community-Based Design

Gwen Klerks*, G. Slingerland, Indre Kalinauskaite, Nicolai Brodersen Hansen, Ben Schouten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


Social sustainability is becoming an increasingly important topic in design practice, calling for more contextual perspectives on the process of design for social sustainability. This paper presents a retrospective case study analyzing the design process of a serious game which aimed to empower teenagers to organize events to strengthen community bonds. The community context in which the collaborative project took place underwent significant contextual changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysis using the Ecologies of Contestation framework shows the influence of multiple contextual levels (Socio-cultural, Power, Constructed, and Values-based) on the design process. Moreover, the paper discusses multiple contextual factors which influenced the design process and presents four suggestions for designers to anticipate and benefit from dynamics in these contextual elements. The suggestions regard (1) integrating the temporal dimension in the collaborative design processes, (2) carefully considering (value) alignment between actors, (3) leveraging values in the collaborative design process, and (4) acknowledging and responding to the multilayered nature of communities throughout the design process. As such, this paper explores the relationships between the community context and the collaborative design process to contribute to more resilient design practices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4107
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • design process
  • civic communities
  • co-design
  • context dynamics
  • digital civics
  • community-based design


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