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Service Design (MA)

Magdalena Bravo Flores

About

I am Magdalena Bravo a Service Designer from Santiago de Chile and I believe design can positively transform reality through the development of strategies, services, products and provocations. I am interested in the public sector and social innovation, the future of cities & planning and speculative methods applied to service design practice.


Experience & Background.

Magdalena has a bachelor's degree in Industrial Design from Universidad de Chile, where she graduated as best in her class. She also has a diploma in Service Design from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (2019) and got awarded Becas Chile scholarship (2019) to study a Service Design MA at the Royal College of Art.

During her career and studies, she has worked with:

Westminster Council, Modal, CERN, Logitech, Multiplica Chile, BHP (Chile, US and Australia), Banmédica, Caja Los Andes, Ministry of Social Development Chile, Centro de Encuestas y Estudios Longitudinales UC, Gt2p Studio, Vicuña Council (Chile), Chimbarongo Council (Chile), Artesanías de Chile Foundation, CIPRÉS Foundation and Universidad de Chile.

Brief

How might we harness digital platforms to address knowledge/social inequalities through digital identity and our relationship with “place”? 

To what extent can ‘digital narratives’ mediate physical space? (think Pokemon-Go!, Google Maps, etc.). How far does uneven representation & power inequality reverberate back into "place" and shape how we understand ourselves and physical "place"? In a world where data is power and automation is used for neighbourhood master planning (think Delve from Sidewalks Lab); what will be the consequences for people? 

It is down to us designers to include a voice of what is “fair”, and an expectation is set upon us around what worlds we can create through means of designing these futures. Service design has the potential to design-in people’s voices, design for more equitable societies and bring forward a set of needs and principles that can sustain us into the future.

Studio

Voices shaping better spaces. Studio is a digital platform enabling social housing residents facing demolition and rebuilding of their council estates; to directly translate their voices into 3D shape and a collective neighbourhood vision. A model, never achieved before; finally bringing an inclusive bottom-up resident-led approach to social housing planning.

Inclusive tool for collective visioning.
Democratic design tool:translating voice into 3D shape in real-time.
Guided by constraints & AI-assistance.
Residents lead the redevelopment & share the experience.

Introducing STUDIO

STUDIO is a democratic design tool, facilitating council estate residents in their struggle to voice their unheard ideas and in shaping the vision of their future council estate. STUDIO is a near future service provocation; a digital tool that translates voices directly into visual shape and form, supported by future technologies and advancements in AI, natural language processing and generative design (think GPT-3 by OpenAI, Finch3D); facilitating a bottom-up approach to council estate redevelopment. Positioned as a pre-vision stage, it avoids the current interpretation gap between; residents, architects, planners and the council in creating aligned masterplans. The council inputs project requirements from the outset, and guided through the tool and platform, residents create visions within those constraints. This enables the transition away from imposing top-down visions and toward a bottom-up resident-led approach.

From individual voices to a collective neighborhood vision.
1) From top-down, to bottom-up 2) Translating individual voices into a collective vision 3) Visualising hidden social value

Experience

A key unique feature of STUDIO, is the ability to gift residents the experience of voicing their own thoughts; in their own language and at their own time. This is in contrast to current consultation experiences; where the consultation workshops are not suited to residents’ own personal schedules as well as feeling discouraged to participate due to language and accessibility barriers. By opening up the process to those silent voices in the community and concretely visualising ideas in real-time, facilitates more residents to participate than ever before. Inviting a higher quality and degree of participation. Prototyping and co-design sessions have led to the design of this experience, highlighting key aspects; 1) opening the tool to residents and neighbours; 2) hosting critical discussions and including constraints to guide conversational designing effectively; 3) including offline touchpoints along the way, and 4) Assistance in automatically generating documentation, to act as authority towards stakeholders.


Mapping the current failing regeneration resident experience.
Mission for an improved resident experience.
Key research insights.
Design opportunity for a more fair and equitable future for social housing.

Setting the Stage

Imagine you are a resident facing regeneration, you’re looking forward to your home being upgraded, but are aware of the risk of losing your current home for the next 15 years; being displaced anywhere throughout the UK, losing proximity to your friends, family and loved ones. You have heard the horror stories of councils not fulfilling their promise to allocate you housing in the same council estate after the regeneration process concludes; or removing those small physical interventions that made your community whole. In short, you wish you look forward to having a say in what happens. Then comes a vote, and you have a choice; either you vote in favour for demolition and rebuild, or nothing happens to your council estate for the next 15 years; which is just not viable, as your home needs immediate attention now (leaking plumbing, mold, etc). So you vote in favour and feel bought out. Consultations come along, where visions are imposed and predetermined, and you participate begrudgingly; it’s just not the same. So our project aims to intervene here, before the vision stage of the regeneration process. What if residents could lead and direct the vision stage of regeneration projects? With the ambition to build a case for greater collaboration by spotlighting issues with current practice by councils, architects and planners. 



Design ethos and speculative approach: with the aim to shift the public psyche.
The design process: from human-centred research (left) to prototyping (right).

Speculative Co-Design Approach

We co-created alongside residents, using physical and digital mock-ups, games and provocations to guide our learning process. Iteratively testing our assumptions along the way. In parallel we included the public through means of speculative workshops; where we crowdsourced ideas with policy designers, data scientists, PhD’s, and creative technologists. Using this open approach, we ensured our ideas would not only be inventive but also inclusive, value-driven and viable. We explored low-tech approaches as well as highly speculative technologies (think GPT-3, natural language processing and developments in generative design) to equitably enhance individual and collective voices. 

Studio theory of change: starting with the individual to achieve positive societal impact.
Illustration by Jialin Wang (Royal College of Art) inspired by STUDIO.

Impact

The use of Studio has the potential to impact residents' lives at different scales: individual, communal and societal. 1) At an individual level, Studio allows for self-representation, leading to a boost in self-esteem which reinforces a positive sense of identity. 2) Communal; provides an increased agency over local areas and an enhanced sense of belonging as communities are empowered and aligned. 3) Societal scale, Studio creates a deep sense of equality, as citizens' voices are equitably heard, interpreted and enacted upon. It also builds on an augmented sense of democracy, as there is a system that allows direct and transparent participation. By doing so, elevating social value as a critical aspect to be looked after by society. In this proposed future, council estate residents and neighbours direct the visioning stages of development projects. We envision a scenario dispelling the idea of regeneration, and going toward continuous sustainable development of neighbourhoods on shorter life cycles, empowered by digital platforms.

Kristof van der Fluit (MA Service Design)


Credits:

Jialin Wang; Architectural Designer who, inspired by our research project, created a series of illustrations she named "Community Impresions".

Renegade Theatre

Finch3D


With Support from:

West Kentish Town Council Estate residents and neighbours.

Jonathan Hadlow (consulting on UI ideas)