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A Teenager-Friendly Community

in Tehran


This project is part of my master's thesis in urban planning and design. In this project, I used stakeholder group meetings, designing surveys with Maptionnaire, and interviews to engage young people in the process of designing their built environment. In Iran, the involvement of youth in designing their communities is not very common. The main challenges I faced, in the top-down system of planning in Iran, were asking the schools' agreement to let students participate in the project, teaching young people about spatial studies, and making them believe that their voice matters.  A short report of the project was featured on in Designing with Children website. 

Year: 2014

My Role: UX researcher and designer 

Timeline: September2013-Fabruary2014

Research Method: Stakeholder group meetings, workshops, survey

Research Type: Exploratory and evaluative research

Problem Statement

Problem Statement

An expanding body of research underscores the significance of urban spaces in enhancing the well-being of young people and their active involvement in the design of their communities. Nevertheless, young people are often overlooked in the community development process, under the pretext of their immaturity or limited knowledge, and the required training demands both time and resources. The primary question that this research seeks to address is:

How can we encourage the participation of young people in community planning within an unfavorable context?"

How can we foster young people's participation in community planning in an unfavorable context? 


quality of open spaces in Golha community 

Engaging participants

Engaging Participants 

I obtained approval from both the City and Regional Ministries of Education. Subsequently, I visited six schools in the area: two boys' schools and three girls' schools. During these visits, I discussed the project with the school principals. While some principals were receptive to the idea, others were not. Notably, the principals of the girls' schools expressed their reluctance, stating that they preferred their students not to venture into urban areas. I also created a flyer explaining my project and the Maptionnaire link to the survey. I put the flyer in other cultural and educational centers for young people. I also created a Facebook page for online discussions.

I wrote about this experience in the journal of Childhood Explorer .

Workshop Design

Workshop Design 

I conducted three workshops. At the outset of each workshop, I introduced key concepts and subsequently involved participants in activities and explore popular and less-frequented locations and routes within the community. Additionally, I utilized th  photo elicitation method  providing them with images of public spaces in the community and encouraging them to describe these scenes.
In the second workshop, our focus shifted to defining urban problems and honing their skills in articulating these issues.
In the third workshop,  which was about recommendations for urban spaces, the participants predominantly proposed open and green spaces where they could exercise influence and control.


Home location (green), Favorite places(red) Least Favorite places(Purple, Least Favourite route (purple), Buffer zones 375m 



We took a participatory approach to the design and found that schools and the municipality were reluctant to engage young people in designing their spaces. Students said, "We are happy that finally, someone counted us.", frequently. We mapped out all the design solutions we came up with for youths in the third workshop.



With this project, I learned that the role of context in the involvement of young people in the process of making their communities is very important. For instance, in some countries with a strong background in planning, young people are more prepared to participate in the planning process, but others may not. Using different methods was very helpful for youth engagement. Because some young people were uncomfortable with cognitive mapping, writing was easier for them or vice versa. 

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