Diploma Project 2011
This project is interesting as it took an existing, negative and individual behaviour, and tries to use it to generate new, positive value for the public. The jury would have liked to see a greater recognition of precedents in this issue area, and thus more research around other solutions that tackle this challenge––and their respective pros and cons––may have led to a stronger concept. The service is yet unfinished, but the intent and motivations are admirable.
k-di lib' is a free-of-charge urban mobility service for goods. It is a low-cost design solution for the complex phenomenon of the stray shopping cart: shopping carts abandoned in public space by their users after transporting any type of goods due to the lack of appropriate (local) mobility solutions.
k.lib lib is a simple shopping cart sharing system with stations in the city and next to the shops. The clients can use the k.di carts as an urban transport service. They receive an 'award' (e.g a deposit) when leaving a cart in a station.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Stray shopping carts exist in urban environments where shopping centres lie within walkable distances to living areas. The cart is used to transport any kind of goods. Afterwards it is abandoned by its user in the public space. I chose to work on an existing case, Les Ulis, a town in the suburbs of Paris, in order to meet and observe the different spaces and stakeholders.
1. Reducing the number of stray shopping carts and enticing people to return as many carts as possible to the supermarket via a low-tech design solution including a bonus and/or deposit system. In the long run the project evolves and becomes an interurban cargo mobility service to cater the transportation needs of the population.
2. Creating a livelier and more pleasant public space whilst enabling citizens to walk to the supermarket, instead of driving there. A more actively used public space in the long term.
3. An increased horizontal collaboration between the different stakeholders.To design an optimal solution that fits their different needs. To foster synergies among them.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
I chose to work on an existing social and/or economic everyday issue in order to apply design methods and tools where, as I consider it, they are most needed: human interaction in everyday life. I realized that the carts were only elements of a (social and economic) system much more complex then the cart itself.
There are different stakeholders with different activities and needs who do not interact a lot with each other. My main intent was to foster synergies among them and to create a sustainable win-win solution so that every stakeholder could benefit.
On the one hand, transporting goods with a cart 'illegally' outside of a supermarket is not an activity acclaimed by everybody. It is considered a lack of public spirit and sometimes even as behavior of the poor (because they cannot afford a car, for example).But on the other hand it is a strong gateway activity to more social interaction for a simple reason: people make active use of public space.
1. The service should be an alternative to today's transportation standards, e.g the car. The idea is not to accept the current activity but to integrate the way people adapt their behavior and the existing material and spaces to their needs.
2. In order to test the service and its acceptance by the population, the project has to be cost-efficient by adopting the existing carts, spaces, etc. for a first (short time) version.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The project has a strong theoretical and practical approach. From the beginning I met with experts.
First of all I worked with a sociologist. We analyzed several similar cases concerning the behavior patterns in order to understand the context and the basic problems leading to the straying shopping cart.
I started a first phase of immersion in Les Ulis in order to observe and discuss the different aspects of the problem (mobility, urban space, society). This led to important encounters, such as the local office of sustainability and the deputy of sustainability.
With more local knowledge, first insight and the help of the sociologist I worked out a questionnaire for the second immersion phase. This is an important tool to meet different people and to know in which way to confront them with this - sometimes - sensible topic.
Stakeholders I met: local residents using carts, security staff of the supermarket, staff of the service picking up the carts, the local office of sustainability and the local deputy of sustainability.
Along the different encounters and observations I prototyped solutions (simply illustrated scenarios). It was important to develop a solution specific to this local context so I presented these scenarios to different stakeholders (e.g. the deputy of sustainability) in order to be as close as possible to a simple solution that could be realized within a short term.
Another personal tool was my own experience of the straying shopping cart: walking with a cart from the shopping center Ulis 2 to a residential area. It helped me understand how it might feel using a cart and what obstacles confronted the user.
At the time the service itself was designed I started to develop and prototype the different elements such as the stations and the bag.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
The project has value in the short and in the long term:
> It fosters synergies among the different stakeholders and improves the life quality of a city and its neighborhoods. More interaction and cohesion make them a more pleasant and lively place.
An actively used public space is an important part of community building because it creates trust and thereby a sense of belonging to a local community. Lively public spaces will in general be less damaged, which has positive short and long term impact
> Using carts via a service system means less cars moving around and a decrease of emissions.
> Developing alternative mobility schemes is a kind of education. It is important in the change of mindset concerning the current widespread belief in cars as the best mobility choice. A well designed product service-system will see its usage increased by more and more people. New activities like this one raise interest among others and so progressively attract new users.
> It is social: Instead of driving from point A to point B with few communication opportunities, kd.i lib' enables social interaction in public spaces. Nobody has to interact, but at least he/she can (meet, exchange, listen, see, etc).6. Outline the steps of the service; what are the intended behavioral patterns or “scripts” for the actors interacting with the service?
1 - (Re)appropriation of public space: Acceptance of the use of public space to transport personal goods and purchases.
2 - The creation of group dynamics:
Users are rewarded with a higher deposit/bonus when returning the carts to the shops/supermarkets. It intends - in some cases - to use the service only partially (e.g. leaving a cart at an urban station after having done purchases and activating the first part of the bonus/deposit) and that somebody else finishes the cycle.
Inspiration comes from the recycling systems (Denmark, Germany, ...) where any person returning empty bottles or cans receives the deposit.
3 - Accepting a bonus/deposit system: a service that fits our everyday needs and reduces our ecological and social impact is worth being rewarded.
4- Participative: This is a new service, so the urban stations are mobile. It allows deciding together where to place them.
5 – Finishing the cycle once again: in the long-term, recycling stations (cans, glass, cardboard, paper,..) could be located at the parking spaces of shopping centers → returning a cart while combining it with another useful activity.7. How did you identify the possible leverage points in the service system? How did you evaluate the importance of each, and determine the mix of interventions that would have the greatest impact?
How did I identify them:
1 - Analyzing I started analyzing similar cases in publications of other city administrations.
2 - Observing I went observing the city and the places where the 'action' happens. I particularly observed the way how people currently use the carts and what kind of means are deployed to resolve the problem.
3 - Meeting the stakeholders & tools I met city representatives (e.g. service of sustainability) and developed a questionnaire with a sociologist: With this tool I met several stakeholders (shop employees, public services, politicians...) to know more about the local context. I took a cart and moved it from the supermarket to a residential area housing unit to experience a comparable situation.
Possible leverage points:
1 - Few persons do not need to do purchases, which means that this problem reaches out to almost all classes of our societies. The stakeholders are numerous: clients, residents, supermarkets, local governments.
how: this seems to me the most important leverage point
mix: the service should be a public-private mix in terms of financing and maintenance.
2 - The stray shopping cart is the result of the current inappropriate services on both sides, private and public. The people bypass the system and adapt it to their needs in a very pragmatic way: Going with the cart from the shopping center/shops to their homes (sometimes even to their apartment using the elevator). A lot of carts end up in rows (like at the supermarket) in front of the buildings where the service-team picks them up. This is for free and happens without other intermediate steps (e.g. waiting for delivery). how: it is important to keep the logic of the current course of action, but to improve it. mix:
> mobile urban stations centralizing the flow of carts towards specific points.
> A bonus/deposit system on two levels: first bonus/deposit when leaving a cart at an urban station, second bonus/deposit when returning it to a shop/supermarket. The deposit could be a mix of price reduction on articles, public services (like electricity, water,..) or activities (summer workshops for children, library subscription,...)
3 - No synergies between the stakeholders but negative impact for all of them how: it is a sensible (political) issue mix: integrating all stakeholders through co-design processes in the development of the project (e.g. questionnaire, workshops, mobile urban stations)