Co-designing for Immigrant Participation.

How can we develop participation and facilitate interaction and communication with the focus on immigrants and communities with non-Finnish languages?

Participatory Espoo is prominent topic, pervading every part of how Espoo city functions. In recent years, the issue of integrating the international human capital (Immigrants, exchange students etc.) has become apparent. This means that in a city such as Espoo, the immigrants get undermined, as they do not attribute in the city meetings.

Case Citizen Participation - Process 1
Case Citizen Participation - Process 2

This is an issue, as their voice gets left out and it discourages other immigrants coming to Espoo. To combat this, we found that Community Hubs, centers in which large number of immigrants gather, can be a source towards having the immigrant’s issues heard. These centers can serve to identify key problems that can be given their responsible administrative branch in City of Espoo.

Case Citizen Participation - Ladder


Thus to better understand the problem, we decided to plan and execute design probes to reach and learn from the non-Finnish citizens, interviews and observations to approach the community hubs (hangout centers in which immigrants and other citizens casually gather) and workshops to learn from the interactions of both community hub members and the Espoo City officials. We found that community hubs can be a source towards having the immigrants’ issues heard. These centers can serve to identify key problems that can be given to their responsible administrative branch in the City of Espoo.

Case Citizen Participation - Ladder


With this understanding, we have found there to be three barriers halting the process of advancing on the levels of citizen participation. Firstly, community hubs are few and lack awareness. Secondly, the community hubs currently have no clear platform for addressing problems relevant for the administrative branches. Lastly, there is a lack of communication between the three administrative branches. Because of these gaps between the political decision-making and the everyday life of the citizens, the voices of the people are often not heard and therefore not taken into consideration.

Case Citizen Participation - Design Game Process 1
Case Citizen Participation - Design Game Process 2


We have intervened at the third barrier, as we find this to be the head of the issue. We have developed a game in which each of the relevant administrative branches, who is working with immigrants in one way or another, are present. The aim of the game is to establish a way to connect and make the different branches of the City of Espoo administration collaborate and work together to improve the city. We wish for the meeting to flourish ideation towards how to approach and find solution for the problems given by the managing staff of the community hubs.

Case Citizen Participation - Ladder

My project role

Planned, organised, and conducted interviews with staff members of the local community hub Trapesa.

Mapped the relationship between the different stakeholders active in Espoo, based on field research findings and key insights.

Created a holistic overview of the major political and civil actors and processes operating within the city using systems-thinking and systems-mapping techniques. The connections between these many stakeholders were used to discover several opportunities for design within the extremely complex system of actors.

Participated in the development and design of the rules, flow, and content of the final design game (solution).

Team members

Liqin Meng

Stefan Tanderup

YaChan Yuan

Lotta Hyvarinen

Shotaro To

Emily Sode

Involved organisations