All forms of consensus are by necessity based on acts of exclusion. — Chantal Mouffe

Skiljelinjer, Swedish for "lines of demarcation", is an architectural research project exploring new tools and decision-making frameworks for collaborative design processes. The project explores Mouffe's writings on agonism,i.e. processes driven by controversy instead of consensus, while at the same time acknowledging the potential of evolving and malleable decision-making protocols within collaborative processes.

The research is done through multiple workshops in different contexts with different user groups. Each workshop departs from a brief and specific decision-making framework. The users’ design together departing from the brief, using a custom augmented reality design app. The app lets the users co-create, vote on and fork proposals. The use of AR allows the virtual proposals to be situated in the physical environment they are designed for.

After each workshop session, the proposals are filtered depending on their ratio between upvotes and downvotes, which allow us to find either the most popular proposals, the least popular, or the most controversial. This way we can experiment with different decision-making protocols in deciding the outcome of the collaborative process.

Our key questions for the project are:

  • What effect does a decision-making framework departing from conflict instead of consensus have on a collaborative design process? Does it allow more voices to be heard?
  • Can a decision-making framework that changes over time be used in a collaborative process, and what are the effects?
  • How can augmented reality aid a collaborative design process in a shared physical space? Does it aid the negotiation of space within the project?
  • How can we create a design process which allows more participants to have their voices heard in the planning of the city?


We have built a custom augmented reality design tool that lets users create collaboratively. The tool can be used in a shared physical space for an in-person workshop, or used from home for a remote workshop.

The tool can be downloaded and tested by reading the QR code or click the link below.

Download the app


  • Kiblix - December 2020

    Skiljelinjer is currently part of the online exhibition Kiblix 2021 by ACE Kibla, an institution in the field of interdisciplinary, intermedia and multimedia art in Maribor, Slovenia. Visit the exhibition here.
  • Stockholm Design Week - February 2021

    Skiljelinjer will be shown as a part of Ung Svensk Form 2021, first exhibited at Kulturhuset and then in 10 locations throughout Sweden until 2022. The visitors will be invited to co-create a virtual work departing from a brief that changes with each location, the result of which will be presented on 3 screens in the exhibition space.
    Visit the exhibition here.


Within the field of urban and community planning, interest in citizen participation has grown in recent decades. Increased demands for more equal influence and more sustainable societies has led to a surging interest in creating new platforms and strategies for involving citizens. More and more municipalities, housing companies and architectural offices are trying to open up their decision-making processes to make them more inclusive and collaborative.

These attempts at citizen dialogue are often criticised. A common experience among participants is that of a false show of participation to pick political points, which leaves the participants with feelings of abandonment when their suggestions are not taken seriously. The processes are often poorly designed and there are rarely any plans for how to incorporate the knowledge which is being generated. “People are very eager to participate during the first meetings, but quickly drop off when they realise that their ideas won’t lead anywhere,” laments a municipal developer in a medium-sized Swedish city.

Finding new frameworks for collaboration within the design of the public space is urgent. In addition to finding methods and processes that address citizens' desire to participate, new perspectives are required on what this participation should result in. New challenges require new methods for experiments in public space.

In the past, it was not technically possible for 50 people to collaboratively design a park. Digital tools make this possible and enable new opportunities for democratic participation. Unfortunately, today's digitization often leads to a separation between the physical and the virtual world. There are no direct links between e.g. a municipality's online discussion forum and their local town square. Instead of strengthening the citizens' desire to participate, this separation contributes to the opposite. Tools that connect the virtual and the physical world bridges this separation.

This project departs from Chantal Mouffe's writings about dissensus and agonism. Mouffe argues that the public space should never be a space governed by consensus. Instead, public space should invite collisions between different views in conflict, without ever reaching consensus.

An agonistic space is open to internal critique, where new ideas and alternatives to the status quo are welcome. Unlike a space based on consensus, which requires constant obscuration of any internal critique. Precisely through its divisive effect, the conflict brings people together. Our perception of public space defines our participation in it. The openness for conflict allows the individual citizen to get involved with questions about what public space is and should be.

The separation of the design process behind public space, and the public space itself, leads to the exclusion of citizens from it. By combining these two areas, the project defines the design process itself as a type of commons where everyone is invited to participate. This commons is not only accessible to all citizens but is also open to different interests. A public space built on agonism is a necessary foundation for a society where more perspectives can be expressed.


Untold Garden is an experiential art and design studio exploring new tools for participatory design and immersive experiences. It is directed by Max Čelar and Jakob Skote who are artists, designers and developers, with a background in architecture.

Sebastian Dahlqvist is an artist and curator, who’s practice involves collaborations and departs from site-specific issues with an interest in self-organization, collective memory and ways of reading and writing history.

Rosa Danenberg is PhD Candidate at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, dept. Urban Planning and Environment, division Urban and Regional studies, and is affiliated with the Centre of the Future of Places. She has previously worked with grassroots community initiatives in both Sweden and the Netherlands.

The project is supported with funding from Kulturbryggan.