Community Planning: Methods
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Elevation montages show the facade of a street by assembling photos of individual buildings. They can be useful for helping people gain an understanding of the building fabric and devise improvements.

An elevation of a street is created by assembling a series of individual photographs. Both sides of a street can be done and pasted either side of a plan.

Simple instructions ask people to make comments on Post-it notes or cards and place them underneath the relevant section (what they like/don't like/would like to see).

The build up of Post-it notes or cards generates a dialogue amongst participants and useful data for later discussion and analysis.
Kingswood, UK, 1996, Roger Evans Associates.

Photomontages as part of a workshop aimed at generating urban design proposals.

  • Table-mounted displays make it possible to have both sides of a street opposite each other on a plan. Wall mounted displays only work if it does not matter treating both sides separately.

  • Useful debates can take place around the exhibit. Keep a notepad or sound recorder handy.

  • Very useful as an ice-breaker at the beginning of a workshop, and as a visual prompt for all participants during a workshop. Also useful as part of an open house event.


  • Main costs: Film processing and purchase. Preparation time (2 person days).

Tips on montage making

  • Stand the same distance from the building line when taking all photos unless there are setbacks in the buildings, when you should move closer.
  • If relating to a plan, then it is best to mount the montage on a long table. If on a wall, then one elevation will be upside down.
  • Digital mapping which can be re-scaled is useful for adjusting the plan to fit the elevation.
  • The plan is more understandable if photos are placed directly on the building line.
  • Elevations are more understandable if photos are stuck together so that shop signs are readable even if there is some mismatch at roof level.

Advantages of elevation montages

  • Good icebreaker at the beginning of workshop sessions
  • Helps participants and design professionals gain a visual understanding of the environment they are dealing with.
  • Secures the views of people lacking the confidence to speak in group discussions.
  • Can be left as part of an unmanned exhibition over a period of time.
  • Can be costly to prepare and may not be cost-effective compared with other methods.


Residents pasting Post-it notes on a wall-mounted montage.


Detail of above with comment
Birmingham, UK, 1994, Nick Wates.

Thanks: Julie Withers, Kathryn Anderson, Roger Evans Associates.

Last updated on: 9 August 2008