Being together, growing together: co-designing future allotment gardens

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Collaborative and Industrial Design
129 + 25
The master thesis aims to apply tools and methods of co-design to explore a sustainable future of allotment gardening. A sustainable allotment garden involves the wider community in gardening activities by innovating a new model to achieve inclusivity. Allotment gardening brings various values to the city in many aspects including organic production, culture, history, social cohesion and wellbeing. However, allotment gardens are operated in an outdated way and gradually became isolated communities. In Helsinki, allotment gardening is getting popular among young families but increasingly more expensive in the meanwhile. The wider community is not familiar with allotment gardening and has little interaction with the garden community. In order to develop in a sustainable way, many garden associations are aware of the importance of inclusivity and establish a closer connection with the neighborhoods. However, they are not clear about how to do it. This project is dedicated to creating a shared understanding between allotment gardeners and the wider community, and design a strategy for an inclusive allotment garden for the year of 2030. The research process is also a test of co-design. The Change Theory by Kurt Lewin, consisting of his Field Theory, Group Dynamics and Action Plan, is used as a theoretical foundation for this research. Following this approach, multiple research methods, including site visiting, semi-structured interviews, survey and participant observation were utilized in different stages to comprehensively study different types of target groups to get insights on group behaviors and activities of gardeners and non-gardeners. Referring to the theories of Communities of Practice and Communities of Interests, a co-design workshop was designed to build mutual understanding and to co-envision a wider inclusive future. Concepts co-created by the participants were modified and tested through storytelling prototypes. The project proposed that different types of gardeners and the wider community groups need to be involved in the allotment garden movement in a different way. In addition, each group may be engaged in different stages according to their levels of support. Eventually, a design proposal of future allotment gardening was generated in the form of a strategic roadmap. The roadmap includes a five-step action plan which I defined as 1) Encountering 2) Inspiring 3) Sharing 4) Gathering and 5) Blooming, with detailed concepts for implementation. 
Julier, Guy
Thesis advisor
Julier, Guy
allotment gardening, co-design, strategic design, community building, inclusivity, sustainability, change theory
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