Reimagining streets and places: driverless vehicles sprint

Background: A global series of problem-solving workshops (Design Sprints), where experts from the technology, transportation, planning, design, and policy fields came together to explore urban opportunities to reimagine public spaces and places in an era of autonomous vehicles. The key challenge of the event was to enable tangible contributions from over 250 participants from across 9 cities around the world within a limited timeframe.

Research question: If many hands make light work, what do many hearts and heads make? Equitable and effective problem-solving of complex challenges means including the diverse backgrounds, expertise, and local knowledge of all participants.

Services: Co-design workshops to reimagine public spaces and places with the advent of autonomous vehicles.

Role: Sprint Format Designer & Session Facilitator

  • Rob designed a Design Sprint workshop format, process and set of supporting materials to be carried out by local teams in multiple cities around the world concurrently.
  • During the London Sprint workshop, Rob facilitated participants through a process that began by understanding the challenges and opportunities of the topic of autonomous vehicles, generating multiple ambitious ideas, and finished by prototyping and iterating complete solutions.
  • Following the sprint workshops, the key findings and emerging ideas were summarised as a report and circulated back to the participants, as well as as a public release.

Impact: The Design Sprint process applied to this large-scale urban context and challenge was praised by various participants and described by one as, “a more practical way to build meaningful relationships while solving shared problems”. The specific findings of the design sprint topic strategically positioned Buro Happold as an industry thought leader in how to plan for new forms of urban environments that could incorporate autonomous vehicles in the future. Rob has since refined the co-design process to guide other similar collaborative processes. These include Health-first Urban Resilience Design Sprint (New York Resilience Summit, 2017); Scotland’s Arctic Future (Scottish Government Design Sprint, 2018); Redesigning the Curb (Harvard University Design School, 2018); Designing for Student Wellbeing (Edinburgh Design Sprint, 2019).

For more: see the article featured on or download PDF a copy of the conclusions report.