Case Study

Open Code Urban Furniture

Adaptive module urban furniture for different neighbourhoods.

What happened?

On the base of pre-designed modules a series of design workshops took place in four Vilnius neighbourhoods, with local residents of different ages, community leaders, and in some cases - the representatives of the eldership (local municipal units) involved as active participants. A location, configuration of the furniture, and colors were chosen by the local residents (the users of the furniture) and the final result was co-designed in cooperation with the makers.

  • Who can help?
  • NGOs working in the field of urban research and participation.
  • Local municipal units (eldership e.g.)
Open Code Urban Furniture


One of the project's goals was to develop an open tool for placemaking: a solution for the urban spaces that could be adjusted to the needs of local residents.

Residents were supposed to get the possibility to arrange a public community space in their neighbourhood within the process of participation.

Research was also a reason. Organisers wished to find out how configuration of the furniture can provide knowledge about the trust and safety in the neighbourhood. On the base of the same blocks different configurations were developed in each neighbourhood.

How? (tools & methods)

  • Participatory design was a way to promote participation of the residents and bring them together for cooperative placemaking. They could make a decision about the location, configuration and aesthetic aspect of the urban furniture. As a piece of work co-designed by the residents, the furniture is being looked after and stays in the neighbourhood which is considered as one of the most beneficial parts of the projects.
  • Before the proper design and participation phase there were a few steps to be done:
    • finding team of makers, finding local leaders
    • co-development of the pre-designed blocks
    • finding materials
    • process of making the blocks
    • finding designer
    • designing materials for communication
    • communication of the workshops in the neighbourhood
    • pre-arrangements for the workshop
    • finding a team for documentation of the process, workshop in each neighbourhood.
  • The next step was realisation phase which consisted of:
    • designing materials for communication
    • communication of the workshops in the neighbourhood
    • pre-arrangements for the workshop
    • finding a team for documentation of the process
    • workshop in each neighbourhood.
  • To evaluate the project outer observers (Barcelona and London) experts were involved in the workshops and provided their reflections on the process (most valuable thing!). Also the result of the workshops was self-evaluated for a year after the workshops were finished
  • Organisers themselves made observations, carried field diaries, took photo-documentation and conducted action-based research.
  • The whole project was described in an online publication: here

How much time is needed?

All ages involved: adults took part in choosing the place

  • process: 5 months
  • 2 months for bringing a team and the local mediators (communities leaders).
  • 2 months of pre-design process.
  • 4 weeks for the preparation and running the actual workshop (one week per neighbourhood)
  • event: average 1 week per neighbourhood (preparation, installation, looking after). The same event of installing the urban furniture took 1 day per each neighbourhood.
  • For whom?
  • kids, adults, in some cases elderly
  • took part in choosing configuration and colors,
  • and actually constructing and coloring furniture.

What worked out?

The project succeeded in strengthening cooperation within neighbourhoods, shared responsibility for the place for meetings and developed skills in co-design. This creative design event in the neighbourhood was a way to bring people together and revitalize the place.

What should you be aware of?

We should pay attention to make strong connections between the groups of makers and strong social connection within some of the neighbourhoods.

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