What's a charrette?

Tired of seeing this suspiciously French word bandied about in design parlance? Well, that's only because we (anglophones) couldn't think of a better word for a process we've come to hold near and dear to our design rhetoric.

Charrettes are design workshops. They typically involve dozens of individuals from a geographic or professional community, working in groups to inform design decisions. A designer or Design Fellow may hold a charrette to generate explicit design solutions, or to direct an appropriate line of design questioning by surveying a focus community.

Charrettes are invaluable to our work. Sensitive community-led designs will often not find the right solution in a textbook or the Internet. Architecture is about people, and it is to people that we should be directing our inquiries.

Members of a new community discuss where to place resources, gardens, water stations, and common areas for the new village of Santo in Haiti