Linking research, education and citizen codesign: compact cities as social intensification
Journal article, 2021

Both research and policy argue for more compact cities, but there is little clarity regarding which urban qualities must be made more compact to achieve the purported benefits. This paper discusses an example of how to conduct immersive and localised studies by connecting research and education to community outreach. Three potential positive outcomes of linking are examined: (a) linking may improve research activities, (b) linking may have a positive impact on student learning, and (c) better valorisation of research results may be achieved. Within a master’s course, architectural students used codesign methods to investigate how the compact city concept can be understood and applied at the neighbourhood level; this assignment was formulated within a research project. The researchers performed observations and feedback tutorials, and the students applied mixed methods, including a literature review, meetings with researchers and stakeholders, site analysis, interviews and a pop-up workshop with residents, strategy development, design proposals, and feedback meetings with critics and local stakeholders. The results show that this linking may contribute significantly to research activities, as the results of a collaborative process between students and local residents were noteworthy. Rather than focusing on the physical environment, the residents argued that the starting point for urban development should be the social aspects. The residents helped the students understand what social aspects to focus on and how to think about certain locations. In terms of education, the collaboration gave students access to the latest research. Better valorisation of research results was achieved with actors at the local level. However, higher up in the municipal hierarchy, valorisation remained a challenge. Linking research and education to community outreach is not particularly common, even if linking all three activities has the potential to lead to systemic change.

Social intensification

Compact city

Higher education


Linking research


education and community outreach


Jenny Stenberg

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Architectural theory and methods

Liane Thuvander

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Architectural theory and methods

Jaan-Henrik Kain

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Urban Design and Planning

Marco Adelfio

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Urban Design and Planning

SN Social Science

2662-9283 (ISSN)

Vol. 1 10 248

Compact Cities? Exploring qualities, drivers and strategies for promoting mixed-use urban development

Formas (250-2013-1295), 2014-01-01 -- 2017-12-31.

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories



Learning and teaching

Pedagogical work



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