“Hacking the rules in Lindängen”

To benefit the Swedish community of Lindängen by working together with them. This was what the project-group In Lindängen with Lindängen set out to do, and succeeded in. By working within, and most importantly wíth the community, the group explored how to support and further reinforce existing and possible collaborations between different actors and citizens in  Lindängen.

Implementing a pizza-oven within and together with the community of Lindängen

For the course Design for Social Innovation, Ana Barbosa, Erica Coria, Hannah Weiser and Mauricio Struckel from the K3 Interaction Design Master program carried out a social innovation project in the Swedish community of Lindängen. The project , called ‘In Lindängen with Lindängen’, has been carried out in collaboration with Framtidens Hus (Future House), a citizen service provided by the Malmö Municipality . Starting from the concern of how to move beyond the time-limited frame of project formats, they developed a time-line and a map to share information about previous and ongoing projects in Lindängen, moreover, they also constructed a public oven together with local people in Lindängen.

By conducting an interview with the group, I managed to gain more information about how the implementation of ‘the oven’ realized their goals, what the future holds for their project  after they left Lindängen, and how their project reinforced collaborations between the community of Lindängen and the various actors involved.

From left to right: Hannah Weiser, Mauricio Struckel, Ana Barbosa and Erica Coria 

“What are the different actors in Lindängen already doing, and how could possible project ideas take in consideration that the local actors could eventually become the ones maintaining those projects, or even become the ones conducting them?” This important question was at the basis when the group started working on various innovative ideas that were to ultimately benefit the community of Lindängen as part of their project.

Lindängen’s social landscape reflected through a mapping exercise

By first conducting a ‘mapping exercise’ in collaboration with Framtiden’s Hus and other stakeholders, the group managed to create a more in-depth overview of the community of Lindängen and its social landscape, as well as Framtiden’s Hus. From these exercises, various goals sprang, reflecting the important aspects which would contribute to the Lindängen community, and form the basis for their ideas.

The eight goals which would form the basis for the group’s implementable ideas and interventions

Taking these eight goals in mind, the group designed six innovative ideas that could be implemented in the community of Lindängen, namely: the movable shop, the umbrella roofs, the cctv stage, the musical centre, love bombing, and finally, the movable pizza oven. Each of these ideas had a local actor as a potential stakeholder.

It was the implementation of the movable pizza oven as an intervention that really tapped into one of the goals, namely the appropriation of space.

“By going back to finish the oven during the weekdays the group was actually doing what the Future House (Framtidens Hus) was trying to do, which is to be out there, and showing the idea to the citizens passing by, not only the actors. Because the actors were already involved.”

According to the students, it was the public performance of building the oven with and within the community that reflected this goal. Ana: “Because what we said from the beginning to them was: ‘We don’t want to work for you, we want to work with you’.”

The bricks represent an endurable intervention, while the bottom pallet makes the oven “movable”

The most important aspect when building the oven was to actually be with the people of Lindängen, to show them things can be done. Ana: “And by doing this, we ‘hacked the rules’”. It was this ‘hacking the rules’, or working around the bureaucratic limitations imposed on Lindängen, that played an important part in the implementation of their intervention. The actual limitation was the permit to build or even decorate the private realstate areas of Lindängen downtown. The workaround was to build the oven on top of a pallet, for it to be “movable”, while the bricks represent a durable intervention (ephemeral was something that the local population was tired of, they needed concrete changes).

“Thus if they appropriate the oven, with annual maintenance the oven would last. But if any of the authorities would the claim space, it would still be ‘movable’.”

As another part of their project, the group created both an online timeline as well as a map. The timeline functions as a digital archive of the projects and activities done by students and researchers in Lindängen. Therefore, the next question for the group was whether knowledge from their timeline is being further appropriated by researchers or other students, after the group left Lindängen. For this, the group stated that they are still looking for a future long-term stakeholder who will take over the timeline, which according to the group will remain online. Hannah: “The timeline is there to not lose the big picture of what is happening. And what has failed, what has succeeded”.

The map as a tangible tool within Framtidens Hus

Instead, the mapping exercise, which the group conducted in an earlier stage of their project, has been ‘incorporated’ within Framtidens Hus in the form of an actual tangible map, in order to give people who are interested a chance to participate and contribute ideas for the community.

“When creating a timeline, we knew what the actual threshold is of a digital tool, which is hosted somewhere else. It is too ‘immaterial’. The map, in contrast, is a tangible tool that has been staying at Framtidens Hus, at Lindängen. No tutorials or passwords are needed to get in. If you want to participate you can actually take a tag and put your name on it.”(Mauricio)

For the students it is the map that relates to actual people, the people from Lindängen, and how they are still connected. Erica:“So when we go back there, we want to see how they appropriated that map as a tool, and how it developed over time.”

Finally, when asked about how the project was received by the community of Lindängen and the various other actors involved, the group proudly declared that they were able to be accepted by the community of Lindängen, as well as Framtidens Hus. Hannah: “There was in the beginning this really doubtful attitude towards the students coming there. We noticed this ‘project-tiredness’ in the areas.” One of the good feedbacks that the group received, when building the oven, was the fact that they were actually working in a public space, while the citizens were passing by.

“People were really identifying the other actors, and asking them: ‘Which one of you is in charge of this?’ So this makes sense because people are wondering which one of the other actors, and not us, is in charge.”(Mauricio)

And for the students this showed that they managed to conduct a project that was being accepted by the local community.

By Tim Verhoeven, student of the K3 master program Media & Communication Studies at Malmö University. This article is part of a series of publications by Malmö University DESIS Lab, with the aim of showcasing the various projects of K3 students about design, sustainability and social innovation.