The ways that architects invite participation in the design of future environments has evolved. This paper traces a history of architectural participatory design from the mid-twentieth century. This exploration suggests that current interest in participatory design reflects more progressive forms of architectural practice, where participatory interventions in everyday settings acknowledge and embrace value pluralism. Architects practicing today engage people in design processes in different ways and at different scales of future-making. Improvising whilst learning, becoming and living are contemporary themes in participatory design, able to accommodate uncertain and changing situations. These understandings of architectural participation pose new questions for practice-based design research, concerning the relevance and impact of architectural research, as well as the education of architects for twenty-first century practice.