Mapping as an Analytic, Synthetic and Formative Research Tool
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Equity, Access and Urban Development
DIY Cartography examines issues of equity, access and urban development.
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Participatory Mapping
Collaborative, Co-Creative and Generative Mapping for data collection and examination
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About co-Lab

Co-Lab is a collaborative faculty initiative in the College of Design @ NC State University that uses mapping as a critical and participatory research tool. Co-Lab’s current publications explore both the theory and application of mapping as a critical research tool, participatory mapping as a dialectical engagement device, and the value of mapping and visualization in fields outside of design, architecture and urban planning. Embedded in this initiative is a new theory of critical placemaking that builds upon the rich heritage of participatory design, placemaking and critical cartography. The value of placemaking underpins a perspective that promotes citizen/community agency and dialectical engagement in design decisions.


Our studios and seminars use techniques of mapping—analyzing and making meaning of raw data—as a comparative analytic tool and as a way to uncover hidden meanings between data and reality.


We use critical cartography and participatory mapping to engage communities in dialogue and discourse about the past, present and future of the build environment. 


We use mapping and visualization to uncover and examine invisible systems that are driving social, political, economic and infrastructural development


Through writing we discuss the many ways that mapping and visualization enhance critical research, while also acting as rhetorical devices that shape the way that we understand and act upon it. 

About Co/Lab

Tania Allen is Associate Professor  and Director of Graduate Programs in Media Arts, Design and Technology in the College of Design at North Carolina State University. She has a BA in History, and a Master of Graphic Design. Her work focuses on the persuasive properties of mapping and data visualization, with specific focus on how it acts as both a catalyst for, and agent working against, equity and access.

Sara Queen is an Associate Professor at the School of Architecture. She is the director of the First Year Experience in the College of Design. Sara’s ongoing research investigates infrastructural networks through mapping methodologies with the goal of facilitating deeper, more diverse understandings of urban systems and the processes which shape physical place, cultural space and social territory.