An Engaging Co-Design Placemaking Event in Brisbane, Australia

In August 2018, a co-design workshop was undertaken to facilitate a community vision and generate the Ellen Grove shopping centre renewal design and plan. The process was facilitated by undergraduate urban planning students from the University of Queensland(UQ) under the guidance of their course coordinator and experienced social planner Laurel Johnson and experienced and highly regarded placemaker John Mongard.

At the workshop, Ellen Grove residents expressed that Ellen Grove is “forgotten” and “unloved” and they shared a range of ideas for changing their shopping centre to become the heart of the community.

Held at the local school hall across from the shopping centre, 30 residents participated in a half day community engagement co-design event. The event was catered by a social enterprise that provides African meals prepared by refugee women. There was strong symbolism in the sharing of food during the co-design event. There were 6 focus groups and students worked in teams of 3 in each group, with the specific roles of facilitator, scribe and drawer.

The facilitator prompted inputs from residents through the following questions:

If there was one thing that we could do in this centre, what would it be?

What things would you like to have or really need, that are not in the centre?

If you thought big (say in ten years) what do you imagine the centre could be like?

What other ideas do you have to make this place great?

The scribe would transcribe these exchanges between resident and facilitator, with the drawer acting as a visual tool for illustrating community desires and vision for their local shopping centre.

Following the end of the community engagement event, the students presented back to the community to verify their interpretations of what the community had expressed to them in issues, designs, ideas, wishes and a vision for Ellen Grove shopping Centre.

The vision, presented in the Ellen Grove centre Renewal Plan  and delivered to Brisbane City Council, is as follows:

The Ellen Grove centre is a vibrant and active destination, supporting local trade, social gatherings and casual encounters for all residents and visitors. The renewed centre design is attractive and comfortable, celebrating cultural diversity and inclusivity.

You can find out more about the outcomes of the community engagement co-design event in The Ellen Grove Renewal Plan.


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