The story of stuff. Designing a new way of working for municipalities to increase circularity in the public space.

We all know our earth does not have an endless supply of resources we can use as humans. If we continue exploiting the planet like we do today, somewhere down the line we will get in big trouble. However, new technologies allow us to tackle these global issues in a new way. At Koos, we use design to improve people’s lives, but also the planet we are living on. For this project, we collaborated with the municipality of Apeldoorn to explore opportunities to design public spaces more circular.

Client

Municipality of Apeldoorn.

Challenge

Create and scale a new way of working that allows municipalities to increase circularity when building and renovating public spaces.

Impact

A toolkit that allows teams within municipalities to map, align and create new work flows to increase circularity when building and renovating public spaces.

The challenge

Currently, Apeldoorn is part of the City Loops program. This is a program funded by the European Union in which several cities across Europe are piloting actions to close the loop of bio-, construction and demolition waste. For this project, Apeldoorn is aiming to close the loop for construction and demolition waste. Or more specifically, how can Apeldoorn create a way of working that supports the reuse of materials when designing public spaces? In this blog case, you learn more about how we used service design to create a circular way of working and how this can be scaled to other municipalities.

Stakeholder management: the key to circulair success

The complexity of this project lies in the number of different stakeholders that need to collaborate in order to increase circularity when building and renovating public spaces. Additionally, many variables impact the long and short term planning of these projects. Think of changing budgets, varying technical urgency for renovation and citizen participation. The willingness to work more circulair is present, however, no clear guidelines are in place that support circular planning and decision-making between these stakeholders. To start, who are they and what do they do?

  • The municipality of Apeldoorn is the project leader and responsible for the design and maintenance of the public space.
  • Antea Group is a software provider that allows for mapping area data, like location and condition of materials. This data is used for maintenance planning.
  • Infrafocus and Wegenscanners are service providers that use various techniques to gather data on the current conditions of materials, like paving stones and asphalt. 
  • EME is a digital matching platform which allows to find new high-value reuse options for materials and products.
  • Contractors are the people who actually build the public spaces.
  • The municipality of Ede was involved to test the scalability of the project.

Creating a shared understanding

To be able to design and implement circular interventions, it is important to first understand the current way of working. During co-creation sessions we mapped the current process. Additionally, all stakeholders got to know each other better and were able to explain what their added value can be to increase circularity. These types of sessions are very important when working with various stakeholders as they create a shared understanding of the situation and open up new opportunities for collaboration. For example, there was no aligned definition of what circular working means among the stakeholders which makes circular planning and decision-making difficult. Together, we aligned important topics and identified several opportunity areas to improve circular working, which were input for three design sprints.

Sprint, sprint, sprint!

In three consecutive sprint weeks we created and tested several circular design interventions. The first sprint focused on how engineers can be better supported to design or renovate more circular for public spaces. The second sprint focused on how a circular way of working can be scaled within and across municipalities. The third sprint focused on how all stakeholders should collaborate using a material database to increase reuse of materials. The beauty of design sprints is that at the start of each week you don’t know what exactly you are going to end up with. But you can always trust the process as long as you put in the work and collaborate with the right people.

The toolkit helps us to clarify and align circular goals during short and long term planning of projects and allocate responsibilities along the way. This way, everyone knows what to do to increase circularity.

Making learnings actionable

Although each sprint has its own learnings and concepts, they all contribute to the main goal: How can we create and scale a new way of working that allows municipalities to increase circularity when building and renovating public spaces. Main learnings of these sprints are:

  • To increase in- and outflow of used materials, both short and long term planning are crucial. The earlier circularity is being introduced and discussed in the planning, the higher the change it will be managed properly along the way.
  • There is not a one-size-fits-all solution that can be used across municipalities. Circular design interventions should be tailored to a municipality’s needs and way of working.
  • Changing a way of working is challenging. People don’t like change, but are willing to work in a more circular way. Introducing small interventions step-by-step can increase success of implementation.

These learnings show that the solution does not lie within one sprint, but can be found in the larger picture of this project. Therefore, we co-created a toolkit that allows teams within municipalities to map, align and create new work flows to increase circularity when building and renovating public spaces.

Interested to make your municipality more circular?

We believe this circular way of working can be adopted by all municipalities. That is why we are in contact with various other municipalities to use and test the toolkit. This allows us to improve the toolkit, while at the same time make a positive impact in public spaces. So are you interested in making your municipality more circular? Get in touch!