LED2LEAP 2021 - Budapest Community Living Lab

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The LADDER Living Lab

This is a laboratory with students for supporting a democratic environment. Our partners include:

  • The Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Institute of Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Garden Art
  • kultúrAktív Association
  • Budaörs No.1 Primary School
  • Dr. Ámbedkar School, Miskolc
  • Polytechnic of Economics, Budapest
  • Hristo Botev Primary School, Veszprém
  • Jendrassik-Venesz High School and Vocational School, Veszprém

Who is Involved?

  • Staff, students (Bsc, Msc, MA, PhD) and volunteers from the university
  • Staff and volunteers of the NGO kultúrAktív
  • Students, teachers & staff and parents from the schools
  • Local architects, landscape architects, teachers, pedagogues, educators, etc.

The Living Lab engages different school communities (students, teachers and parents) from Hungary. Primary and secondary schools are involved as well, with different social backgrounds.

Main Theme of the Living Lab

The Hungarian project team has formed a living lab called LADDER, which is a mosaic word in Hungary for Laboratory with Students for Democratic Environment. The LADDER project aims to popularize democratic schoolyard design and connect academia with school communities through a children and youth-centered community design process in which built environment educators, the school community (teachers, students, parents, etc.) and the landscape architecture profession (university teachers and students) work together to map, assess, envision and co-design the school environment.

The main activities of the Living Lab are the following:

●  Rethinking and renovating school environments with the involvement of the school community, especially young people

●  Development and application of a board game for community design in schoolyards

●  Methodological guidance for collective mapping, planning, implementation and maintenance


The LADDER Living Lab is an exploratory collaboration space that allows continuous reflection and improvements of participatory methods through a combination of research and innovation processes within a mid-term partnership between the University, the NGO kultúrAktív and various local school partners. The lab is a user-centered, open-innovation ecosystem, operating in a territorial context of Hungary and with a thematic focus on democratic school environment redevelopment. Living labs operate with an iterative Participatory Action Research methodology that systematically provides solutions for locally identified issues through a cycle of: co-creation, exploration, experimentation, prototyping, and evaluation. Due to COVID-19, some of the collaboration activities are done remotely. The participatory design process in the LADDER Living Lab is not limited to co-design but it also focuses on collaborative mapping, assessment, goal setting, testing and collective evaluation of the schoolyard. As in each phase we have special needs and aspects that should be underlined, identification of the characteristics and the benefits of each methodology and analysing in which phase of the participatory process it fits the best is a primary question.


Collaboration with No. 1. Primary School, Budaörs


●  Remote/online participatory planning

●  3 action days - collective analysis, visioning and prototyping

●  Dream Schoolyard drawing and modelling competition and exhibition

●  Collective evaluation (Urbanity game)

Outputs & outcomes:

●  Small interventions based on students’ ideas

●  Implementation plan to realise in the schoolyard

●  Student council became responsible for schoolyard

●  Booklet about the process, methods and evaluation to be published soon

Collaboration with Dr. Ámbedkar School, Miskolc


●  2 workshops, 10-days intensive program with disadvantaged community

●  from collective visioning & decision making to acting together

Outputs & outcomes:

●  booklet to introduce the process, tools & methods and to conclude the findings and lessons learnt

●  maintaining the implemented garden features

●  full renovation of the building facade and the fence

●  initiating a sculpture placement to create identity

Collaboration with Polytechnic of Economics, Budapest


●  environmental education program led by university students to teach and learn about landscape (LA Masters, 4 occasions)

●  using the design-based learning and learning-by-doing methods, and the 4C (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity) principles

●  design workshop week at the university to create conceptual plans

●  collective site analysis: students and teachers were involved

Outputs & outcomes:

●  several prototypes for ideas

●  exhibition from the ideas

●  9 conceptual plan for the schoolyard made by university students

Future aims:

●  implementing ideas collectively

●  booklet to conclude lessons learnt

Boardgame development


to create a boardgame for school kids to make them aware of their school environments and show them possibilities to improve their own environments by themselves, by small actions


●  elective course at the university for landscape architect students - 3 courses (2 years)

●  partly an online process (via zoom and mural)

●  continuous game testing in 5 schools 

Outputs & outcomes:

●  2 board games for 2 different age groups (7-18, 12-18 years)

Future aims:

●  publish and use the boardgame in participatory projects

Project Location & Dissemination

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Location of the Living Lab includes Budapest, Budaörs, Miskolc and Veszprém