A Charrette is an intensive, multi-disciplinary workshop with the aim of developing a design or vision for a project or planning activity. Charrettes are often conducted to design such things as parks and buildings, or to plan communities or transportation systems. A team of design experts meets with community groups, developers, and neighbors over a period lasting from one day to a couple of weeks, gathering information on the issues that face the community. Charrette participants then work together to find design solutions that will address the issues that stakeholders have identified as priorities and result in a clear, detailed, realistic vision for future development.
Design Charrette Advantages Include:
- Facilitates collaborative design of visible projects that will have high impact on people’s lives;
- Brings project stakeholders together to facilitate fast and interactive decision making;
- Creates partnerships and positive working relationships with the public;
- Especially useful for land-use planning or other issues that require speculation about the future;
- Can save money where many drawings are needed in a short time; rather than commissioning expensive design drawings without input from the community, a charrette offers an inclusive, less expensive process.
The idea for design charrettes (from the French word charrette meaning “chariot” or “cart”) is believed to have derived from stories of architectural students in Paris in the 1800s. As the story goes, students’ exams were collected in a charrette, and some of these students continued to madly sketch together as their designs were being gathered for evaluation.