The sense of belonging: Emotional aspects in participatory design in relation to products and services for cities

Malis Maria Liebl Keil, Virginia Borges Kistmann


This work presents a discussion on the design process related to the emotional infrastructure that reinforces the sense of belonging to a place. Considering the recent interest in products and services related to the urban environment, this research considers the relevance of the participatory design process to the wellbeing of citizens. Some recent experiences demonstrate that the inclusion of citizens in the design process has increased the sense of belonging. These empirical approaches, however, need to be better understood in order to contribute to a strategic design. The understanding of what kind of elements and processes reinforces or creates the sense of belonging may help with structuring the design process. The research question that led this study was how to include emotion in the design process, taking into account the participatory design aiming at the sense of belonging. The structure of the present work considers the concept and elements of belonging, belonging under topological psychology and design, and emotion. Against these backgrounds, the article presents a frame for an infrastructure to explore the emotional sense of belonging towards a meta-design, and relates it to the participatory design for cities.

Keywords: participatory design, design and emotion, place attachment, design for cities.

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