RESEARCH • INTERACTION DESIGN

RESEARCH • INTERACTION DESIGN

Acora / Positive gentrification through neighborhood collaboration

Acora / Positive gentrification through neighborhood collaboration

Acora / Positive gentrification through neighborhood collaboration

HeadlineAcora
See the finished product here
See the finished product here

Introduction

Introduction

A project between Madrid City Hall and IED Innovation Lab, with the goal of using gentrification as a way to create a positive impact in the neighborhood of Carabanchel in Madrid. Resulting in a digital collaboration platform to connect the neighborhood.

My role

My role

This project was conducted during my time at IED Madrid Innovation Lab. I was together with two others responsible for the user research. I also designed and developed the information architecture and flows of the platform.

Focus: How might we increase the neighbourhood collaboration in Carabanchel?
Focus: How might we increase the neighbourhood collaboration in Carabanchel?

The challenge

The challenge

Carabanchel is a traditional working-class neighborhood. Situated in the south of Madrid it is home to roughly a quarter-million people. Most of the apartments and shops are run by families who have been in the neighborhood for decades.

MapCara
Carbanchel is a traditional working class neighbourhood in the process of transition

Carabanchel might at first seem like a sleepy neighborhood, the streets are empty and anonymous. But large spaces available for low rent in combination with good connections to the city by public transport has made the neighborhood a favorite among artists and young people.  The backstreets are now full of studios and collectives dedicated to different forms of art and creative making.

Carabanchel’s rise in popularity has created fear among the people who have lived there for decades. They fear that Carabanchel might become gentrified and the local population will be pushed out due to an increase in rent. Gentrification is a powerful process that is hard to put a stop to. So, Madrid City Hall instead asked the question; what if we use design to create a positive outcome of gentrification? 

The Madrid City Hall partnered with IED Innovation Lab for the project Carabanchel Creativa. A project with the goal of connecting new and old residents through several phases and different forms of interventions in the neighborhood. We participate in the project by building a digital tool for connecting the different actors in the neighborhood to increase collaboration between them. 

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“El artista viene la gente se va” -  The artist is coming the people are leaving 
The fear of the neighbourhood becoming gentrified expressed in the public space
“El artista viene la gente se va” -  The artist is coming the people are leaving 
The fear of the neighbourhood becoming gentrified expressed in the public space

The approach

We wanted to start the project by forming a better picture of the neighborhood and the people living there. Together with the Madrid City Hall, we defined two primary groups we wanted to focus on: 

Established businesses
Business that has been open over several years. They work in traditional industries like carpentry or mechanics and are family owned.

Creative professionals
People or groups that have settled in the neighborhood in the last couple of years. They work creatively across industries in different kinds of mediums and projects.

To start the project we wanted to understand the different actors. We started by breaking down our focus, "How to increase collaboration in Carabanchel?" into a couple of key objectives we wanted the research answer. 

The main objectives we wanted to answer:

• Understand the daily life in Carabanchel.

• Investigate how people collaborate in Carabanchel today.

• Explore how people in Carabanchel find new opportunities for collaboration.

• Identify how open people are for change in the neighborhood and how willing they are to adapt to it.

The Innovation lab had started the process of mapping out the different businesses in the neighborhood and they had a growing database of the two groups.

By using the database we were able to recruit the right participants for the research. Before heading out to the field we designed a discussion guide that would help us guide the interviews to answer the main objectives of the research.

DiscussionGuideAcora
Discussion guide for the research, click to enlarge.

Early on in the research, we understood that the life of the people in Carabanchel is diverse. I started to get concerned as it seemed like we could not spot any pattern or connection across the different interviews.

During a meeting with our mentors, we brought up this issue. They told us that we probably did not reach deep enough during interviews. In the following interviews, we focused on digging deeper. We encourage subjects to talk more about their experience on a profound level exploring their fears and motivations.

When the interviews were done we started to transcribe them and put them up on the wall with post-its. Clustering the information we saw connections and patterns emerge between what the creative professionals were saying.

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Interview at Hola Por Qué. Photo: Carlos Pesina

The discovery

During the research phase I was responsible for conducting the interviews with the creative professionals. They are therefore the focus of this case study.

The interviews was great way to get to know the people of Carabanchel. Artists and artisans invited us into their studios and homes. Conducting the interviews in the place they spend most of their day made them comfortable and relaxed. 

Creative professionals
The creative professionals have recently moved into the neighborhood and they work in fields such as design, architecture, printing, and art. 

We found some characteristics that were common among the creative professionals.

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evolving
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Group 18 Copy
Group 19 Copy
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Interview at Urgel 3. Photo: Carlos Pesina

The vision

At the beginning of the project, both the client and we were set on building a platform for managing the entire lifecycle of a project. But, the research uncovered two important findings that pivoted the strategy and the scope of the project. 

People in Carabanchel usually interact with each other face to face. Carabanchel is a small neighborhood so people usually walk to each other’s studios or meet somewhere in the neighborhood. They also like to make new connections by collaborating on projects. 

Because of this the scope of the platform changed to focus on finding each other and projects in the neighborhood. The continued communication and collaboration could then take place on an external platform.

The product

One of the goals we had during the design phase was to develop the applications in flows rather than separate screens. We figured that user stories would be a great way to ensure that we kept the correct focus during the design phase. After sharing the findings from the research with the rest of the group we conducted a user story workshop.

Our focus was to create a platform for people to find each other and projects in Carabanchel. After producing the first number of user stories we voted for which we wanted to focus on in the first release of the platform.

The user stories we wanted to focus on was:

• As an artist, I want to be able to find a project.

• As a user, I want to register on the platform.

• As a user, I want to browse the people registered in the platform.

We wanted to continue to explore different variations of how this could look. We started by having a design studio session and by using paper and pencil we sketched out variations of how a user story could look. Keeping the fidelity low we were able to advance quickly through iterations. 

CreateAProject
Black and white wireframe of the flow create new project.

When the structure of the flow was done we started to build more detailed paper prototypes. We then moved on to digital black and white wireframes. Our focus was to improve the fidelity with each iteration. We added colors, fonts and image placeholders to advance towards a high fidelity mockup.

During the project, we had a class on design systems and we all became very excited about how it could help in collaborating between us. We, therefore, started to build out a design system based on atomic design principles early in the process.

Unfortunately, we noticed that we built the design system too early in the project. There were still too many undefined parameters. Which in the end resulted in a design system that was inaccurate and outdated.

SignUpFlow
Exploration of sign up flow

Features

Security view
In the research, we conducted we saw that people feared to expose their business to the wrong people. This was also a strong concern for stakeholders in the project. 

Because of this, we developed two views on the platform. One guest view that did not require a login but only gave a brief overview of the businesses. To see more details an account and log in was required. 

mobiledisplay
Exploration of sign up flow

Communication
The scope of the platform was to find people and projects in the neighborhood. The communication could then continue afterwards either face to face or on Facebook, Email, or WhatsApp. 

This was more convenient for the user as it was a normal way for them to communicate. This scope was also a smart maintenance decision. Developing a messenger system on the platform would require too much administration and moderation.

ProjectConvo
Exploration of sign up flow

The Launch

During the project, we understood that it would take too much time to develop the project section. Therefore, we focused on enabling people to find each other and initiate contact. 

After the launch of the platform, it has been used in the ongoing project in Carabanchel. It has also been discussed in lectures and conferences in IED Madrid as well as presented in the Mañana empieza hoy festival in Madrid. 

See the finished product here
See the finished product here

Reflections

Research as a foreigner
This was the first time I conducted qualitative research outside of Sweden where I am born and raised. Conducting research in a culture foreign to mine forced me to go in with a beginner mindset. It helped me to understand on a deeper how people think and feel.

For example, during an interview, a person started comparing Carabanchel to Salamanca (another neighborhood in Madrid). Because I was foreign I could dig deeper into the person's associations with Salamanca. Which gave us a better picture of the person's mental model of Madrid and its neighbourhoods.

Design system
The first design system we built turned out to be inaccurate. Reflecting on the process it was too early and to many details were still undefined. 

Despite that, I am still happy that we created a design system. It brought a lot of learnings that I will take with me to future projects. But, in the future I want to closer consider and reflect on the goal and benefit of an experiment before initiating it.


Communication between departments
We needed to leave out the project section of the platform in the first release. That was unfortunate as the research showed that it as a great way to initiate collaborations. 

I think better communication between design and technology would help to set a more accurate scope for the project from the beginning.

Research as a foreigner
This was the first time I conducted qualitative research outside of Sweden where I am born and raised. Conducting research in a culture foreign to mine forced me to go in with a beginner mindset. It helped me to understand on a deeper how people think and feel.

For example, during an interview, a person started comparing Carabanchel to Salamanca (another neighborhood in Madrid). Because I was foreign I could dig deeper into the person's associations with Salamanca. Which gave us a better picture of the person's mental model of Madrid and its neighbourhoods.

Design system
The first design system we built turned out to be inaccurate. Reflecting on the process it was too early and to many details were still undefined. 

Despite that, I am still happy that we created a design system. It brought a lot of learnings that I will take with me to future projects. But, in future, I want to more closely consider and reflect on the goal or benefit of an experiment before initiating it.

Communication between departments
We needed to leave out the project section of the platform in the first release. That was unfortunate as the research showed that it as a great way to initiate collaborations. 

I think better communication between design and technology would help to set a more accurate scope for the project from the beginning.

Designed by Gustav Dybeck

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