RISE ICT stories: Participatory Design for Life Beyond Retrofitting

Picture of Participatory design

What should an apartment contain to encourage residents to act in a more environmentally friendly manner? This question was explored in the DelibRetro project together with Eskilstuna Kommunfastighet AB.

In the pre-study, which had a strong futuristic perspective, design research together with ethnographic methodology played a key role in finding innovative ways to get people to live sustainably in rental apartments. Four different concepts were defined as potentially significant ways to mediate households’ lifestyles in the recently renovated residential area of Lagersberg in Eskilstuna.

ECO hosts are ambassadors and communicators of environmental knowledge. They meet and introduce new tenants and become a natural part of the area.

New residents in the area are also greeted with a welcome kit. The kit consists of a box containing everyday objects such as environmentally friendly washing powder, dish washing fluid, an extension plug with switch, a pot with a lid, garbage bags, woolen socks, a woolen sweater and a hanger for airing clothes on the balcony. Each object has an interactive tag that can be scanned with a smartphone. The phone can then show movies and visual information explaining the context and use of the object. The kit is handed over and explained by the ECO host as the tenants move into their new apartment.  

The Babysteps program is directed towards the children in the area and covers the subjects of recycling, water usage, energy use as well as general environmental knowledge. It consists of physical meetings organized by the ECO host where the children can watch movies and participate in small competitions that build up their knowledge about sustainability. Babysteps also includes a series of interactive books that tell intercultural stories in an inclusive way.

The home energy management system, Intercultural Hems, is a system that gives feedback on the household’s use of resources. A digital interface offers ambient and detailed information about the use of electricity, hot water and waste in a graphical manner that is inspired by Middle Eastern and African art. The sound feedback communicates real-time use of resources to facilitate an understanding of what activities consumes more resources than others.

By interviewing nine different families, all of whom were from outside Europe, traditional norms regarding peoples’ living preferences could be broken down. The standards that a property company might have is not necessarily optimal for environmental customization tailored to individuals, something that DelibRetro could show.

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Project: DelibRetro

Future Energy Use at Interactive Institute

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