User-led design in the urban/domestic environment

Georgina Voss, Natasha Carolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urban spaces are pervaded by interpretive and reactive technologies that shape and are shaped by its inhabitants, with an increasingly active role for citizen technologists. Yet the role of domestic spaces in shaping lived experience within the urban environment, and subsequent technological interventions, is often overlooked. Homes are framed as closed-off environments which isolate their inhabitants from the city, despite being porous spaces that are also filled with ubiquitous computing. In this paper we draw on the participatory design and user innovation literatures to present the methodology for the “Homesense” research project that explored how users design and develop “smart” technologies within their own homes, based on the intersection of their concurrent urban/domestic lived experience. Kits of open-source hardware were used as cultural probes, and co-located “lead users” provided technical expertise. This methodology demon- strates the importance of physical space and location in user-led domestic activities, and of combinations of technical and “lived” expertise in developing these interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-87
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Urban Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012


  • Urban Computing
  • Participatory Design
  • User Innovation
  • Toolkits
  • Research Methods


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