PhD completed! Participation in Architecture

After some 9 years, I’ve just uploaded the final copy of my PhD.

Check out the new page on our website:

The title is Participation in Architecture : agonism in practice

My main supervisor Dr Karen Burns offered this great 50 word description:

“Ammon Beyerle’s thesis examines participatory design, or architectural design and urban design led by users and inhabitants. Using real-world projects, it challenges consensus and agreement ideals in participatory practice, arguing instead that through the action and processes of agonism – embracing tension and difference – researchers can better design public participation.”

It was especially hard to research a PhD by Creative Works in architecture, because this approach has been rare until now. Furthermore, researching through real projects in my own practice, and about topics that involve working directly other people on design and developing design processes – was a challenge. Not to mention the factor of focusing on agonism! I’m proud to say that the learning outcomes, although rooted in abstract philosophy and architectural theory, are particularly practical and everyday.

For instance, how about we focus on designing our design processes to make the most of participation of different people? How about we focus on learning and action rather than agreement and consensus? There’s so much to do in the world, so how we work together really matters!

PhD Diagram_Creative Works projects over time_AB.jpg

I feel very grateful to the 100’s of people that contributed to this work and knowledge: many colleagues, collaborators, competitors, volunteers, staff, clients, and friends were part of this journey.

My panellists were Dr Janet McGaw and Dr Alex Selenitsch; and my supervisors were Dr Karen Burns and Prof Kim Dovey – all from the University of Melbourne. My final examiners were Prof Jonathan Hill – from University College London, and Prof Laurene Vaughan – from RMIT University.

I’m now planning to do some work presenting this online, in print, and, approaching other practitioners, not for profit organisations, public institutions, and local governments in Victoria to share my learnings (and methods) from the research with say community development, town planning, city strategy and infrastructure teams. This is an excellent time for Here Studio to start focussing on public projects again.

Participation in Architecture – cover page

Participation in Architecture – cover page

International Metropolis Conference 2018: How to make a place for welcoming: mille feuille placemaking in Ballarat

Conference: International Metropolis Conference 2018

Location: Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, 14 Darling Drive, Sydney

Date: Wednesday 31st October, 11:00 - 12:30

Session: Voices and values in multicultural contexts

Title of paper: How to make a place for welcoming: mille feuille placemaking in Ballarat

Authors: Ammon Beyerle (Here Studio / University of Melbourne) and Ann Foley (Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council)

2018_placemaking_ballarat_community architect.jpg


This is the story of shared vision and strategy creating a regional Welcome Centre: A place premised on the value of cultural diversity, especially the cultural capital introduced by migrants and refugees.

What does it mean to make a place in an existing context? How can a multiplicity of voices inflect to make a open, and welcoming place? Can this process foster cultural competence over time?

A conversation about transforming an historic and previously neglected site into a diversity hub catalyses, connect and leverages opportunities in a rapidly evolving and diversifying regional city. Two perspectives and three themes will be explored:

Paths – The human story. It is woven through every aspect of the design of the Welcome Centre. Our own stories come to bear as well as those of individuals in time. Stakeholder voices are heard in many layers. They connect, overlap, intersect and impact on each other. People bring talents, skills, languages, networks and needs.

Partitions – place is important. A 150 year-old convent school site at the gateway to the city it offers its own stories and legacies – some helpful and some constraining – for our 21st century iteration.

Programme / Participation – Diversity and collaboration. Through community collaboration with architects and their students we learned to focus on the process of placemaking. Intense and creative interplay between individuals and groups results in events, technology, arts, community enterprises, business start-ups and educational projects led by migrants and refugees. Inclusion is a core value and force for settlement and social cohesion.