Pride of Place: Co-design, community engagement and the Victorian Pride Centre

Gene Bawden, Alli Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


XYX Lab, at Monash Art Design and Architecture, Melbourne, is a newly formed
research collective of design academics and practitioners examining issues
pertaining to communication and spatial design practices interrogated through
the lens of gender identification and equity. Determined to make real-world
impact, the Lab’s remit is to collaborate with real-world stakeholders: other
researchers, activists, affiliated groups, policy makers and the broader public. To
this end we have developed a number of design thinking “tools” – two- and three dimensional play-based prompts – through which we engage workshop participants in co-design processes that activate participatory story-telling. The
tools permit our diverse collaborators to align themselves to shared ideas; extend innovative discovery; dispute contentious concepts; and reveal new insights that inform the research of the Lab and the objectives of the stakeholders. The most significant of these workshops was undertaken with the newly formed Victorian Pride Centre Board in late 2016. In April 2016 the Victorian State Government announced their intention to establish the first Australian Pride Centre in Melbourne. The Pride Centre will galvanise the city’s diverse LGTBIQ community through a physical and metaphoric site of support and celebration. Buoyed by the clear commitment of the State Government to recognise, respect and empower gay, lesbian and nonbinary gender identity, the members of XYX approached the newly appointed Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality, Rowena Allen, with an offer of design thinking workshops that would surface the Pride Centre’s key ambitions. The Centre must be more than a building, the identity of which is construed simply by its location and tenants. It needs to define itself through a clear, careful and outward facing communication of its culture, values and history. To this end the Lab set about constructing a bespoke set of design tools for the Pride Centre Board to engage with in a one-day workshop. The tools produced a sequential revelation: personal affiliations and deeply held opinions from the various legions of the LGTBIQ community shifted through a progression of interactive, performative and play-based activities towards a united consensus on the Centre’s higher purpose.

Use of the bespoke tools, hand-made by the Lab members, revealed the
importance of well-designed, engaging and intersected prompts in revealing and
extrapolating ideas from a community, that, at times, may be suspicious of
participatory methodologies that activate story-telling as research. This paper
reveals how the tools facilitated the participants’ engagement, and how they have helped shape the future thinking of the Pride Centre Board.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-63
Number of pages21
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Victorian Pride Centre
  • Design Thinking
  • Co-design
  • Design Workshop

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