Public space is important to teenagers, but they don’t often have an opportunity to contribute to the design of public spaces and they are sometimes seen as ‘trouble-makers’ when they hang out in public. Through a partnership with Blacktown City Council in Sydney’s western suburbs, I began my fieldwork with broad investigations into the issues surrounding young people, public space, and public participation, drawing on literature in action research, participatory design, transformation design and adversarial design.

While many council staff believe public participation in decision-making is important, young people are sometimes overlooked in these processes. Focusing on the Mt Druitt locality, I learned from young people that they want to be involved in ways that are practical, creative and sociable. During consultation sessions with school students about the reserve next to their school, the need for a space to hang out with friends or family was identified, and the Bidwill Chill Space project was born. The project experimented with making as a form of participation. I will be thinking and writing about this into 2018.

Through my research partnership with council we also applied for funding to run Mt Druitt Youth Placemakers.