Placemaking transforms the designed environment and also the social relationships and cultural values embedded within that environment. Engaging in placemaking helps citizens, including youth, imagine fairer, more just relationships in their immediate surroundings, with concern for the global environment.  To engage community partners in placemaking, CEEDS often organizes intensive problem-solving workshops called charrettes.

A ritual peculiar to architects, the notion of a charrette began in the 1800s when Parisian architecture students hurried to finish assignments aboard horse-drawn carts, working until the very last moment on the cart or en charrette.  Today’s architecture students use the term to describe the frenetic activity that precedes their reviews.

CEEDS charrettes reinterpret this ritual. They reflect our belief that bringing factions of a community together within a creative, somewhat frenetic "space apart" helps them examine their fundamental beliefs and develop consensus on a difficult, timely problem.  As such, charrettes have become one of our most useful tools in involving community partners in placemaking.

CEEDS charrettes are characterized by a diversity of participants: university students, faculty, practitioners, and youth and adult community members of differing ages, experiences, and backgrounds. Often CEEDS charrettes begin with youth presenting their solution to the problem at hand, which not only informs adults of children’s needs but also encourages them to be more generative and playful in their own thinking.

Key elements in CEEDS charrettes include: an introductory visioning session when community members work with design teams to establish goals, and a closing public forum where design teams present their findings.  In between these two sessions, design teams work frantically to develop a range of proposals that illustrate alternative approaches to fulfilling a given vision.

Depending upon client needs and resources, CEEDS charrettes can be as short as one day or as long as one week.  They require several months lead time to plan and considerable follow-up work.