(Un)Urban Day 2-An Introduction to Human Centred Design

Another day, another exciting opportunity for UCL students to explore deep into the fascinating nature of urban landscapes. Unlike yesterday, today was entirely focused on issues surrounding cities crafting solutions to tackle them.

On a early 10am start (well, early for some students), participants of the strand were up and ready keen to complete the day on a win. The day was split into two: first reviewing the work of a highly expertise panel whose work closely related to East London, secondly completing challenges relating to Human-Centred Design presented by Mensch.

Following the immensely detailed talks of Neil McElduff and PhD student Oliver Dawkins, groups had to develop ways in which organisation Creative Wick can be used to improve the well-being of residents within Hackney Wick and Fish Island.  After a few criticisms of the actual design of the website, a variety of innovative solutions emerged each tackling a different target audience within the area. Some examples include: providing free haircuts to homeless residents in order to integrate them within the community and providing art workshops for younger ages.

After a long, relaxing lunch came the most interactive part of the day; an introduction to Human-Centred Design given by Mensch. Now don’t get me wrong, this concept may seem pretty daunting but it’s actually easy to understand!

Starting the session off building spaghetti and marshmallow towers, where obviously the engineers tower came out triumphant, the talk then channelled in everyone’s creative side with each group developing a persona diving into the challenges faced on their daily commute. The characters developed differed greatly ranging from a 18 year old female King’s student with anxiety issues to a 30 year old blind pianist. Once the characters were created, we were then asked to create solutions in order to tackle these problems faced on their commute. With a great amount of ideas generated in order to improve the tube to comply with the needs of such characters there’s one thing clear: THE TUBE NEEDS STABLE WIFI.

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Bryan the 30 year old blind pianist

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Miranda the 18 year old King’s (boo) student with social anxiety

Despite all the fun and games there are some serious lessons learnt. We’ve learned about divergent and convergent thinking today which is a really interesting thought process I would say. Breaking down the idea generation process from self reflection to interviewing others, creating a persona and tackling specific needs is very helpful.

One key concept for today’s workshop would be changing perspectives from what is viable and feasible to what is desirable. So are we more people-oriented rather than business-oriented?

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