Event report

September 20, 2020

FAB Ideation “Redesign Open Spaces for the New Normal” Report

FabCafe Hong Kong Editorial Team

Social distancing continues, but we keep the momentum going and the energy high, as we meet online to discuss social & environmental challenges and explore innovative ideas with Design Thinking! As a pre-event for the Global Goals Jam we hosted a Fab Ideation on 10 September 2020. We focused on Sustainable Development Goal #11, and in particular we aimed to break down and find solutions to target #11.7.


Understanding the challenge

Target #11.7 is extremely relevant to the local context. Hong Kong is ranked the least affordable housing market in the world. As a result, people live in extremely small living spaces, while public open spaces are very limited. We need space to stretch out, relax, play and interact with our communities.

Public open spaces are essential for urban microclimates, environmental quality, public health and social interaction. But due to limited land area for public open space development, it is critically important to design high-quality, inclusive recreational open spaces, in order to maintain the psychological well-being of the people. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is unlikely to end soon, and there will always be the risk of a new virus pandemics emerging. Public open space has become even more important as a much-needed escape from the confines of home to breathe some fresh air. But how to deal with social distancing, hygiene and public gatherings? We need to consider how to design public open spaces for the “New Normal”.

Exploring new solutions

We, the facilitator and the participants of the event, worked together on the problem using a Design Thinking approach. First, we identified all the stakeholders that are in any way relevant to the design challenge using a simple Stakeholder Map. This provided a visual overview of who is involved, and who we might design a solution for. In our case, we all agreed that public open spaces are meant for everyone – including children, adults, the elderly, students, working professionals, etc. We also considered the difference in interests and power by the government, companies, working staff and citizens.

Afterwards, we chose to narrow our focus to the local neighborhoods. We used an
Empathy Map to empathize with this group and better understand the problem from their perspective. We discussed the experiences of visiting a public park and the emotions one might feel. Most of the emotions we identified were positive, as the open air relieves stress and makes you feel more happy and energetic. However, in Hong Kong the experience can also feel forced and uncomfortable if you are alone, if the facilities are old, or if there is little space.

Considering these insights we moved on to
Ideation Brainstorm. In this exercise we generated ideas for how we might provide access to safe and inclusive green and public spaces. We tried to generate as many ideas as possible, by being concise and open-minded. The ideas included more natural surroundings, engaging activities and age-friendly facilities.

As the final exercise we each created a
Concept Sketch. We combined and refined some of the previous ideas, and then used pen and paper to visualize them. This allowed us to better communicate the concept of our solution ideas.

Thanks to the participants for sharing your insights and ideas!

Stay tuned for our event announcements on FabCafe website and our Facebook page


  • FabCafe Hong Kong Editorial Team

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Hong Kong.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
    Contact us

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Hong Kong.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
    Contact us

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