The Design Assistance process follows a number of stages which are applied to all projects.
Each project starts with a conversation, initiated by the community. A community wants to avail of the programme and a representative contacts the AIA. The AIA assigns a project manager and requires the community to form a steering group representing a cross-section of local interests. This group makes a formal application for a process which requires a considerable level of detail. This is evaluated and if successful, the AIA commits to run a programme.
The project manager and the local steering group prepare for the public workshop, to be held within six months of the application. Preparations include a site visit to gather material to inform a workshop brief, recruitment of expert volunteers with the skill sets required to respond to the brief (the ‘Design Assistance Team’) and promotion of the process locally to ensure strong interest and attendance at the workshop.
This is a public event held over 3 – 4 days. Sometimes called a ‘charette’, it often involves hundreds people and follow different formats. The local steering group is responsible for workshop hosting and logistics. While the workshop is led by the Design Assistance team members, their role is to unlock community solutions. The team compiles a report containing observations and recommendations, which is presented to the community at the end of the workshop.
The community establishes a project implementation team to analyse the team recommendations, identify priorities, prepare an action plan, and undertake immediate objectives. The AIA and the Design Assistance team return a year later to evaluate progress and advise the community on ways to improve the effectiveness of its implementation efforts.