Mirian Rodriguez Calvo MArch, MUr, MDes

Job Title:

PhD Research Student


School of Design



The Space Between
Public space for socio-political engagement.

The Space Between


Mirian Rodriguez Calvo

Analysing the Value of Co-Design Practices in Community Development

Supervisors: Dr Paul Smith, Dr Madeleine Sclater

Mirian Calvo holds a Masters in Architecture and a Masters in Urban Planning and Design within the School of Architecture, University of A Coruna, in Spain. After working as an architect and urban designer in several architectural practices, she moved to Glasgow where she did a Masters in Design Innovation and Environmental Design within The Glasgow School of Art.

Currently she is conducting a fully funded PhD research that aims to analyse the value of co-design in community development, at the Institute of Design Innovation (InDI), The Glasgow School of Art. The PhD is associated with Leapfrog, a £1.2 million three-year-funded AHRC project which comprises collaboration between Lancaster University and The Glasgow School of Art, alongside public sector and community partners. The PhD research lays its foundations around three areas of study: impact, co-design and community development. From these three pillars of research, she keeps reframing her research questions:

1) What is the role and value of co-design in community development?
2) How do designers go about researching the impact of co-design?

Recently increasing numbers of grassroots organisations engage in community development seeking to enhance their quality of life. This is a response to the current challenges of the 21st Century such as constraints in public services and the emergence of social inequalities. Indeed, little has been written in the design literature about the impact of co-design within this context. This reflects the lack of systematic research about the role and value of co-design in public engagement. Furthermore, impact is a term that has gained prominence because of the recent crisis. This has led to pressure on governments and stakeholders to demonstrate that the resources invested in community development are well spent (Forss & Schwartz, 2011). Thus, this PhD research seeks to:

1. Explore the role of co-design in enabling ‘meaningful change’ within communities. ‘Meaningful change’ refers to the idea of prioritising the opinions and values of community members. It seeks to identify what the community interprets as significant change.