Background: Participatory architecture can promote dialogue across cultures while working together to create physical outputs. A team of academics with a background in architecture, psychology and health sciences evaluated a participatory architecture workshop in Southern Italy as part of the Crossing Cultures project. The goal was to explore participants’ experiences and perceived benefits. In the context of situated learning, the workshop brought together architecture students, local citizens and asylum seekers, who by working together and learning from each other formed a community of practice (CoP). Objective: The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of members of the CoP, their beliefs about the benefits of the project and ways to improve it. Setting: Data collection took place in 2019 during a participatory architecture workshop in Belmonte, Italy. Method: Twenty-five asylum seekers, locals and students took part in in-depth interviews, which were later subjected to thematic analysis. Results: Participants reported experiences relating to ‘living together’, ‘working together’, ‘making home’, ‘making locals comfortable to be involved’ and ‘understanding and respecting differences’. Perceived benefits were ‘creating a space for connection’, ‘revitalising local communities’, ‘promoting development of towns’, ‘broadening horizons’, ‘gaining or practising skills’, ‘having your ideas heard’ and ‘creating lasting things’. Conclusion: Findings suggest that creating a CoP not only fulfils individual goals but also addresses common concerns. Participatory architecture workshops in an area with high immigration can create connections between asylum seekers and local people, and promote intercultural dialogue while helping to reactivate an economically and socially deprived area. © The Author(s) 2022.

DOI: 10.1177/00178969221139819
ISSN: 00178969