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Projects

Current Projects

Empowering Design Practices: historic places of worship as catalysts for connecting communities

Empowering Design Practices is a large £1.5m project funded by AHRC under the Connected Communities and Design Highlight Notice. The project investigates how community-led design (CLD) practices apply in the case of historic places of worship and focusses on the development of new mechanisms and processes to empower communities and to facilitate and evaluate good practice. The project has supported over 50 communities involved in adaptation and maintenance of historic places of worship of different faiths and denominations. In parallel it delivered a training program for design students, professionals and communities in order to build national capacity for research by design.

The project is led by Theodore Zamenopoulos and Katerina Alexiou with colleagues for Art History (Elizabeth McKellar and Susie West) and IET (Tim Coughlan). It is run as a collaborative partnership between the Open University and The Glass-House Community Led Design with organisations outside the Higher Education sector including Historic England, the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance and National Lottery Heritage Fund.

More details on the official website: empoweringdesign.net.

Incubating Civic Leadership

The project aims to connect the experiences, knowledge and networks of academics and non-academic individuals and organisations in order to develop processes, and digital infrastructures that can sustainably support the development of civic leadership. This project is funded by Higher Education Innovation Fund.

The project is led by Theodore Zamenopoulos and Katerina Alexiou with colleagues Alessandro Sancino, Senior Lecturer in Management and Director or Citizenship and Governance SRA, FBL; Carol Jacklin-Jarvis, Lecturer in Management and Director of Centre for Voluntary Leadership, FBL; Gabi Kent, Knowledge Exchange Lecturer, FASS; Sophia de Sousa, Chief Executive, The Glass-House Community Led Design (GH) and Lorraine Hudson, Living Lab Manager, The Knowle West Media Centre in Bristol.

Mapping Civic Leadership Platforms

This project aims to map existing digital platforms supporting civic leadership, taking into consideration responses to COVID-19 and how the crisis transforms practice currently and potentially in the future.

The project is funded by the Citizenship and Governance Strategic Research Area of the Open University and it is led by is led by Katerina Alexiou and Theodore Zamenopoulos.

Completed projects

Co-designing Asset Mapping: comparative approaches

The aim of this project was to develop a network of community-academic partnerships engaged in asset mapping approaches, in order to enable collaborative reflections and evaluations of current and recent projects, and to develop new synergies for learning and critical reflection. The project was funded by AHRC under the Connected Communities programme.

The project was led by OU academics Giota Alevizou (PI), Katerina Alexiou and Theodore Zamenopoulos and involved academics from 4 other universities: Ms Greene (RCA), Prof Kelemen (Keele University), Dr Phillips (Leicester University) and Dr Lam (Brunel University). The project has UK and International community partners: The Glass-House Community Led Design, The New Vic Theatre and Atenistas and engaged with a variety of different community groups and experts.

Project website: comparativeassetmapping.org.

Starting from Values: evaluating intangible legacies

This project was funded under a call for developing different ways of investigating the legacy of AHRC Connected Communities projects. The aim was to co-develop and apply creative ways of identifying, evaluating and enhancing intangible, values-related aspects of project legacies.

The project was led by Prof Marie Harder at Brighton University and involved OU academics Katerina Alexiou and Theodore Zamenopoulos as well as a number of other academic and non-academic institutions including the OU strategic partner The Glass-House Community Led Design

Project website: starting-from-values-evaluating-intangible-legacies.

Rules of Thumb: an investigation into the potential of contextual transportation in social design

TThis project aimed to examine hitching as a mobility practice and, through the development of a design toolkit, to use this knowledge to reveal ways in which other infrastructures may be 'hitched'. The proposition explored was that a process such as hitching may offer tactics for individuals and organizations, in areas such as housing, planning or health care, to further their objectives in novel ways by responding to and matching their needs and capabilities. The research was funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The project was led by Damon Taylor at Brighton University and involved as Co-I the OU academic Theodore Zamenopoulos as well as a number of other academic and non-academic institutions including the OU strategic partner The Glass-House Community Led Design

Project website: static1.squarespace.com.

Scaling up Co-design Research and Practice

This project focused on organisations that support communities through creative co-design activities (including media, technology, product design and place-making). The aim was to identify challenges and opportunities for unleashing and building upon the intrinsic capacities of community-academic partnerships involved in co-design in order to: increase the impact of their practice; extend reach; and make more sustainable and resilient communities. Our core tools were: cross-pollination activities, fostering ambassadors of co-design practice, design hacklabs and online collaborative technologies. The research was funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council (£125,000).

The project was led by OU academics Theodore Zamenopoulos and Katerina Alexiou in collaboration with Prof Andy Dearden, Sheffield Hallam; Dr Basayawan Lam, Brunel University; Prof Ann Light, Northumbria University and Community Partners: The Glass-House Community Led Design, Blackwood Foundation, Fossbox, Flossie, Silent Cities, Voluntary Action Westminster, Hannah Goraya. The project was funded by AHRC under the Connected Communities programme.

Project website: scalingup-codesign.weebly.com.

Unearth Hidden Assets through Community Co-design and Co-production

This project aimed to explore a range of creative practices (using art, theatre, play and more generally co-design practices) to uncover hidden assets of people and communities and unlock their potential to empower them. The research was funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The project was led by Dr Lam, Brunel University and included as Co-I the OU academic Theodore Zamenopoulos as well as Mihaela Keleman from Keele University and Martin Phillips from University of Leicester. The leading community partners were The Glass-House Community Led Design, Wiltshire Council, Alison Gilchrist, Community Development Consultant, New Vic Borderlines.

Project website: connected-communities.org.

Media, Community and the Creative Citizen

‘Creative Citizens’ was a large £1.4m project funded by AHRC and EPSRC under the Connected Community and Digital Economy programmes. The project involved academics from University of West of England, Cardiff University, Royal College of Art, Birmingham University, and Birmingham City University as well as a number of public and third sector organisations. The aim of the research was to understand the changing landscape of digital and physical media and how they can be used to transform communities and support creative citizenship.

The Open University team (Katerina Alexiou, Theodore Zamenopoulos and Giota Alevizou) focussed on community-led design and co-created media interventions with community groups in London.

Project website: gtr.ukri.org

Creative Citizens book.

Bridging the Gap Between Academic Theory and Community Relevance: fresh insights from American pragmatism

This project focused on what is considered ‘actionable’ knowledge by communities and what makes knowledge relevant, useful and/or practical at their end. For this exploration it included open participant sessions, drama exercises, experiential workshops, co-design, story telling, visual methods and crowd sourcing in an attempt to address issues of language translation and cultural capital across academics and community partners. The project was funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The project was led by Mihaela Keleman from Keele University and include as Co-I the OU academic Theodore Zamenopoulos as well as Busyawam Lam, Brunel University, Graham Crow, Edinburgh University, Seinan Gakuin University in Japan. The leading community partners were New Vic Borderlines, The Glass-House Community Led Design and Mondo Challenge Foundation.

Project website: www.keele.ac.uk/bridgingthedivide/.

Valuing Community-Led Design

Valuing Community-Led Design aimed to collate, articulate and disseminate evidence about the value of community-led design and brought the relevant stakeholders together to share good practice and form a research agenda for the future. It was funded by AHRC under the Connected Communities programme.

The project was led by OU academics Katerina Alexiou and Theodore Zamenopoulos.

Project website: valuing-community-led-design.weebly.com.

The Role of Complexity in the Creative Economy: connecting people, ideas and practice

An AHRC funded study as part of the Connected Communities Programme. This one year project aimed to explore how complexity theory and its methodological approaches can help in providing a better understanding of the creative economy as a field of research. Complexity theory offered us the possibility to explore and understand the interconnections across the different levels of understanding of the creative economy (micro, meso and macro) as well as the possibility to integrate different disciplinary understandings and findings.

The project was led Roberta Comunian (Kent University), with Katerina Alexiou (Open University) and Caroline Chapain (Birmingham University).

Neurological Basis of Design Cognition

This project explored the neurological basis of design using neuroimaging techniques (fMRI) and EGG. The project looked at brain mechanisms involved in dealing ill structured design tasks by focusing on patterns of functional interactions between brain regions. It was funded as part of an EPSRC/AHRC funded project, entitled Embracing Complexity in Design.

The neurological study was led by Dr Katerina Alexiou, Dr Theodore Zamenopoulos and Prof Johnson from the OU in collaboration with Dr Sam Gilbert from University College London.

ARCHI 21-Architectural and Design Based Education and Practice Through Content & Language Integrated Learning using Immersive Virtual Environments for 21st Century Skills

TThis project explored innovative practices in higher architectural and design education, where both language and content teaching and learning are integrated as interwoven parts with joint curricular roles. The project explored in particular immersive 3D virtual environments together with social networking media and Web 2.0 tools as platforms for such integrated learning experience. The research was funded by European Union.

The project was led by Sylvie Escande from École nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris-Malaquais and involved the following OU academics: Prof Steve Garner, Georgy Holden, Nicole Schadewitz, Katerina Alexiou and Theodore Zamenopoulos.

Achieving Transformation, Enhanced Learning and Innovation through Educational Resources in Design: ATELIER-D

Atelier-D was a two year, JISC funded project that aimed to explore the construction of a virtual atelier that combines well-established practices in art and design education with new opportunities presented by ICT to create a new approach to learning and teaching design.

The study was led by Prof Garner together with the following academics: Georgy Holden, Emma Dewberry, Nicole Schadewitz, Peter Lloyd, Giselle Ferreira and Theodore Zamenopoulos.