Co-design can be seen as a mutual learning process ou a way to explore a desired future in a collaborative way. (E. Björgvinsson). The renewal of the Saint-Leonard library in Montreal is a project perfectly aligned to such a codesign process.

A broad vision for a future cultural space had been established via focus groups, surveys and studies. By cultural space we mean a space that unites the traditional functions of a library with cultural activities and artisanal/maker activities. What would the visitor experience be like in such a space? How could the three functions interact together? Living experiments of the three functions, in a same space, at the same time as a way to provoke what the future could be and better inform the future of the project is an ideal codesign process.

A codesign process can take multiple forms. Here is what we did for this context:

Intention Collective prototyping to expand, enrich and activate our capacity to make sense of a possible future before it exists. In this case – a libary with cultural and maker functions.
Time scale Short – March 13th, 2015 from 10am to 6pm. (versus long).
Who percolab, Communautique, library employees, organizations from the community and citizens. In all 1000 visitors.
Scale In a single institution (versus multiple)
Location In-situ (versus off site)
Methods Prototyping – 25 experiments at the same time (versus idea generate, probe, reflect)
Relations Anyone (team, citizen, organiztion) can lead a prototype activity.
Learning strategy 5 dimensions to guide data collection: intergenerationnal/ intercultural; programmed/programmable; serendipity, community connections, same time activities,

The process rolled out as follows:

1. An ethnographic experience to frame the process – needs, possibilities, spaces.

2. A coplanning workshop with local organizations and citizens to identify potential prototypes and prototype leaders. 2015_02_12 4 copy3. Coplanning workshops with library employees to bring them into the process, work through logistics and identify further prototype leaders.

4. Communication of the event via local newspapers, local organizations, library network to open up the process.

IMG_2829 5. Establish a data collection strategy. We agreed on 5 methods:

  • A card game for capture key visitor impressions
  • Visitor interviews structured around the user journey
  • Prototype leader interviews
  • Ethnographic observations
  • Debrief with library employees

6. The big day of prototyping and data collection.

7. Data analysis and sense making.

Running 25 prototypes at the same time is in fact, though a bit chaotic, is a unique way to have a glimpse of the future and reveal issues and possibilities. It is a powerful and relatively rapid method to inform a project as it moves forward. The full report if available form the library.

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