Duration: September 2007 – ongoing

Project Description:

MAP-it is a mapping method and toolkit to mediate participatory design processes. It enables designers to moderate participatory design processes through workshops in which people from different backgrounds collaboratively reflect on and set up new projects. More specifically, MAP-it is a low-tech toolkit – or MAP-(k)it – that contains stickers and background maps that are open and adjustable and it intends to construct a common language among participants. MAP-it’s ‘unfamiliar’ character enables everybody to join the conversation on an equal level.

Furthermore, MAP-it is designed from the perspective that in social processes risk is an unavoidable and even desirable factor. It plays with this concept of acceptable risk by offering a framework for dealing with it. The notion of acceptable risk is a.o. reflected in three main aspects of MAP-it: (1) it allows participants to express themselves in diverse ways via its hybrid form, (2) it introduces friction in the participatory process via ‘risk-stickers’ and certain game rules and (3) its open qualities stimulate the participants – and especially the ‘makers’ – to release control over (parts of) the process.

MAP-it is the result of an extensive and long term research process, has been tested in various contexts and has lead to various reflective adaptations and international publications. Inspired by the open source philosophy, participants can also freely download existing toolkits via the MAP-it website (, use and adapt them for their own goals and contribute to MAP-it by uploading their adapted maps and stickers.

Website: MAP-it website

Team members from CUO | Social Spaces:

Liesbeth Huybrechts, Katrien Dreessen, Selina Schepers, Thomas Laureyssens, Priscilla Machils, Jon Stam

research group Social Spaces (MAD-Faculty)
Catholic University of Leuven
Z33 – house for contemporary art
BAM – Flemish institute for visual, audiovisual and media art
Expertise centre for Digital Media (EDM), Hasselt University


The former Institute for Research in the Arts (IvOK) (Catholic University of Leuven, LUCA School of Arts)


Huybrechts, L. Coenen, T., Laureyssens, T. & Machils, P. (2009). Living Spaces: A Participatory Design Process Model Drawing on the Use of Boundary Objects. International reports on socio-informatics, 6 (2), pp. 6-21. Retrieved online, 2011, June 27, from:

Huybrechts, L. (2011) Participatory creation is risky. A roadmap of participatory creation processes and the shifting role of creative ‘things’. KULeuven: Doctoraat in de Letterkunde.

Schepers, S., Huybrechts, L. & Dreessen, K. (2011) MAP-it: on friction, risk and releasing control. Research Design Journal, 2 (11), pp. 32 – 38.

Dreessen, K., Huybrechts, L., Laureyssens, T., Schepers, S., & Baciu, S. (2011). MAP-it. A participatory mapping toolkit. Leuven: Acco.

Huybrechts, L., Dreessen, K. & Schepers, S. (2012). Mapping design practices: On risk, hybridity, and participation. PDC 2012. Embracing New Territories of Participation. Proceedings of the 12th Participatory Design Conference. Volume 2: Exploratory Papers, Workshop Descriptions, Industry Cases. August 12-16, 2012, Roskilde University, Denmark.

Schepers, S., Dreessen, K., Huybrechts, L. & Laureyssens, T. (2013) MAP-it: the art of designing a participatory mapping method. Knowing (by) Designing. Proceedings of the conference ‘Knowing (by) Designing’ at LUCA, Sint-Lucas School of Architecture Brussels, 22-23 May 2013, pp. 275-282.

Recent activities:

[posts-for-page tag_slug='MAP-it' show_full_posts='false' show_meta=true]