European oceans are subject to rapid development. New activities such as aquaculture and ocean energy have gained importance. This triggers interest in “multi-use platforms at sea” (MUPS), i.e., areas at sea in which different activities are combined. MUPS are complex features with regards to technology, governance, and financial, socioeconomic, and environmental aspects.
To identify realistic and sustainable solutions and designs for MUPS, the MERMAID project applied a participatory design process (PDP) involving a range of stakeholders representing companies, authorities, researchers, and NGOs. This paper evaluates if and how the participatory design process contributed to the design of multi-use platforms. It is based on interviews with the managers of
the case study sites and a questionnaire administered to all stakeholders participating in the PDP workshops. Analyzing the four case studies, we conclude that the participatory design process has had a valuable contribution to the development of the four different designs of MUPS, even though
the preconditions for carrying out a participatory design process differed between sites. In all four cases, the process has been beneficial in generating new and shared knowledge. It brought new design issues to the table and increased knowledge and understanding among the different stakeholders.