Shaping your city with design, technology and data: Sprout Talent Week 2015



Imagine that you’re walking by the water in Copenhagen. All of a sudden you find a small roundly shaped device hanging in eye height by the water - it looks like one of those old hair dryers you would see at the hairdresser back in the day - and intuitively you feel like putting your head inside. Inside you hear a live transmission of music, laughter and chit-chat - originating from the Dome of Visions, a large dome-shaped cultural venue of wood and plexi-glass on the other side of the docks. What is this you’re hearing - and why?

Your curiosity is even tickled further as you look at the Dome of Visions: The exterior of the dome is lit up by hundreds of LEDs in bright colors moving in sync with the sound you hear transmitted to the device next you. Previously unaware of the social event clearly going on inside the dome, and which you hear via the technology, you decide to change your plans and investigate further. You make your way towards the dome and step inside.

What you’re imagining here is a theoretical course of events conceptualized by a small group of young talents in August as part of Sprout Talent Week 2015: A week-long summerschool workshop/lab for close to 30 talented youths, who were curious to learn how to use data streams, electronics and design thinking to improve the city they live in. The group mentioned above - which was just one among several work group who took part - wanted, for example, to use technology to make more people discover the Dome of Visions and the many amazing events taking place there. Other groups built robots which could help tourists navigate the city, or data-driven art-installations making it possible to feel global warming on your own skin in real-time - and much, much more.

Shared traits for the work of all the groups were processes and tasks such as brainstorming, data wrangling, ideation, design work, soldering of electronic components and rapid prototyping, and even if it wasn't possible to realize full-scale productions of the very ambitious ideas in such a short time span, all the projects - including the one described above - were produced and showcased as functional miniature prototypes during the week. And these pieces of work all make up really excellent examples of what happens when you place the technology in the hands of engaged citizens - and thereby also explains what Sprout Talent Week is all about: Namely to facilitate a field study in design thinking and creativity. Behind the initiative stands Dansk Arkitektur Center, Dansk Design Center, Copenhagen Solutions Lab, Alexandra Instituttet and Dome of Visions - and the ambition is to make Sprout Talent Week an annually returning event.





The event was divvyed into two streams: Hacking The City (organized by Copenhagen Solutions Lab and the Alexandra Institute) and Sensing The City, which was organized by Danish Design Centre and the Dome of Visions. To enhance our lab work we furthermore teamed up with Fablab RUC, Idemo Lab, Attention Group and members of collaborative art space Illutron. The whole week we took residence in the highly inspiring Dome of Visions on the Copenhagen harbour front and got down to business with a diverse group of 12 talented creatives with very different backgrounds - ranging from budding film makers and architects to students, computer programmers and data scientists.

Our team had set up lectures, hands-on workshops and design-sessions that helped move from ideation to conceptualization and prototyping in a matter of just a few days. It all climaxed on the last day where the groups presented their work to the public and a competent jury of high-ranking city planners, business leaders and design experts.


The whole initiative was based on open-source principles where all the knowledge, insight and designs that were produced were made publicly available for further rework, remix and re-appropriation by the public - in order to enrich the city commons and inspire further work beyond the workshop, not only the participants themselves, but also any other interested parties out there. All in all a very inspiring week with lots of learnings for everyone involved and a beautifully concrete exemple of the sort of synergy, creativity and focus design thinking methodologies can ensure in multi-disciplinary collaborations.

You can see many more photos and read in larger detail how the workshop took place on the Sensing The City Tumblr-blog. Below you can also see a short video summary of all the fun that was had:

This is a cross-post from the Danish Design Centre blog, see the original here.

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