Sport for Community Building and Social Inclusion in the Urban Context


Recent research shows that sporting activities can contribute to the creation of communities and promote social inclusion in the urban context. Sport has gone beyond mere physical activity and has acquired social, cultural, urban and political dimensions that need to be analysed in order to develop effective governmental programs and appropriate incentives. The purpose of this study is to investigate the benefits, barriers, existing programs and the role of design in sport as a means of community building, social inclusion and city development. The study falls in the domain of design for social innovation and uses a literature review to develop ethnographic tools for analyzing sports communities. Social science literature shows that public spaces supporting sport do indeed contribute to community development, empowerment of marginalised groups, and overall citizen safety. Moreover, sport is shown as a favourable means of social inclusion, assisting in the reduction of physical, social, economic, or structural barriers of underrepresented people. It was found that the sports-related literature in the design field is focused mainly on the physical dimension of products, rather than its capacity of fostering community and inclusion. For this purpose, the ongoing research has developed a field research protocol and a specialised toolkit, that will be applied to a series of bottom-up sports communities selected through a first mapping within the metropolitan area of [omitted for blind review]. Future research developments could lead to understanding how Service and Systemic Design may promote social inclusion and community growth through sports in urban spaces.


Viktor Malakuczi
Post-doc Research Fellow, Department PDTA, Sapienza University of Rome, Roma, Italy

Angela Giambattista
Research Fellow, Department of Planning, Design,Technology of Architecture, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

Lorenzo Imbesi
Professor, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

Mariia Ershova
Research assistant, Department of Planning, Design and Technology of Architecture, Sapienza University of Rome, Roma (RM), Italy

Andrea Gentile
Research assistant, Department of Planning, Design and Technology of Architecture, Sapienza University of Rome, L'Aquila (AQ), Italy


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—New Agendas for Design: Principles of Scale, Practices of Inclusion


Social Innovation, Public Space, Design ethnography, Empowerment, Community

Digital Media


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