In collaboration with DCC Beta.​​​​​​​
The Brief
Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine. 
The quality of our lives is enriched by the social fabric which surrounds us, but increasingly people are becoming less involved and connected to the communities in which they live. In this project we were asked to design a public service around the theme of neighbourhood networks. Working as a team we were challenged to consider what public services can and should be offered to neighbourhoods and to find ways to make that happen given today’s opportunities and the challenges of the future.
In groups of four, were asked to consider how neighbourhoods functioned in the past, understand how neighbourhoods function now, and imagine ways that neighbourhoods should function in the future.

Some of our starting points:
● What is a neighbourhood?
● How might we build resilient neighbourhoods?
● What if neighbourhoods functioned as effective networks?
● What if members of communities could use their local knowledge and
relationships to improve safety, engagement and belonging?
● What do communities actually want to achieve and how might they do it?
● What is an ideal neighborhood, and what does it facilitate?
● What challenges must be addressed to achieve a networked
At a Glance
Here is an overview of the tools and processes I followed throughout this project.
Proof of Concept Video
At the beginning of the research phase we came together to ask ourselves some questions. First off, which neighbourhood we wanted to focus on, what do they want to achieve? how might they do it? what challenges must be addressed? and finally a list of things we wanted to know.
After gathering our thoughts and picking Stoneybatter, Dublin 7 as our area of interest, we set off to ask residents and shops owners in the area some questions.
We were fortunate in that people were very willing to engage with us, after speaking with a number of shop owners and a couple of residents, we came back to the studio to synthesize the data we collected. What we found is that there is a strong sense of community in Stoneybatter but with house prices rising and very little space for families in the small homes, it is a transient place, people move there before having children but as their family grows they realise the lack of amenities available to them in the area.
After the insights we gathered from our interviews, we collectively designed some co-creation sessions to bring back out with us to the residents of Stoneybatter. In our first session we asked the participants to map out the areas of Stoneybatter they used the most.
Getting the participants to map their area gave us a good sense of the touch points within the community.
As space within the homes of Stoneybatter was named as an issue, we got the participants to place cardboard cut outs of things they would like in their home but cannot have due to space. This highlighted the potential future needs of the family.
In our next session we wanted to find out what was keeping people in Stoneybatter (i.e the roots), Their daily routine (i.e the trunk) and finally their future goals (i.e sprouting leaves).
The co-creation session proved to be successful in that we gained many insights about the Stoneybatter area in order to direct our design. These insights are apparent for the quotes listed below:
Hunt Statement
From our research we were able to design some personas, which in turn led us to develop our hunt statement.

How might we make small homes in Stoneybatter feel bigger while sharing space to increase a sense of community?
Actors Map
Another useful tool we used was to create an actors map of all the stakeholders.
Both the concept and functionality of the PlayPod is simple. The space is designed to be open, giving parents and children an adequate area to interact with each another. Gaining inspiration from playgrounds, a bench has been included which can be used by parents while their children play and as mentioned, the PlayPod is sized to make use of vacant car parking spaces at the end of the street. 
The theme and motifs of the Pods will be related to the area they are placed. In the first installation, the Stoneybatter Pod imitates the patterns of a cow, echoing the history of the cattle markets in the area.
Mirrored, reflective panels help open up the space inside and on the outside reflect the neighbourhoods environment. They also allow for playful interaction with the children. As well as that, windows around every side of the Pod allow for visibility from all angles.​​​​​​​
Experience Prototype
For the first iteration of our prototype we decided to build it out of cardboard. This proved to be unsuccessful when testing on the streets of Stoneybatter as it was possibly the windiest day of the year. What we did learn on the day is that the size we mapped out was a perfect fit for the locations we had specified.
As our first iteration was not sturdy enough, we went back into the workshop to build a stronger frame in order to wrap the cardboard around. We sprayed the cardboard and cut out 'windows' and brought mirrors to attach. As well as that, we got our hands on some thick, green card to act as the playground-style, spongey floor. Coupled with the installation itself, the team made and put up posters around the neighbourhood in order to raise awareness.
The chosen location, at the gable end of one of the busy streets in the housing area of Stoneybatter, proved to be a prime location to gain exposure for the PlayPod. As school finished, numerous parents and their children passed by, intrigued by this foreign, yellow box they had never seen before. 
The response we received from parents and children alike was excellent. Fortunately, while we were out, a member of the 'Stoneybatter Pride of Place' committee happened to drive by. She pulled in, had a chat and popped a picture of us with some details about the project up on their Facebook page. This was excellent for us in that further exposure was provided through an avenue we had, admittedly, not really considered.
Service Questions
Where does the PlayPod live?
PlayPods make use of vacant, communal car parking spaces at the gable end of the street rather than taking up spaces directly outside the home.

Is the PlayPod there for good?
The PlayPod is moved once a month by a member of the Dublin City Council to a new location within the neighbourhood so as to give members of the community an equal opportunity to its proximity.

Who maintains the PlayPod?
PlayPods are designed for the community and should be championed by the community. Upon its monthly collection any sizeable cleaning or maintenance will be done by the Council before being dropped to its new location. Alternatively, the Council can be contacted via information on the PlayPod itself if emergency maintenance is required. The community will be encouraged to keep the space clean for other patrons via a set of visible 'Pod Rules' upon entry.

How does the PlayPod get around?
The PlayPod is delivered by a member of the Council. Dublin Bikes or similar trucks could be used to transport the Pod. Upon delivery, the PlayPod is adjusted and installed with a dolly and crank to ensure the floor is level, even and safe.

Is PlayPods just for Stoneybatter?
Initially, Stoneybatter will be the testing area for the PlayPod. The Stoneybatter Pod decal will be reminiscent of a cow, echoing the history of the cattle market in the area. Future installations in other areas could have different decals echoing the history of those areas in some way.

Is there more information online?
Branding on the PlayPod will encourage users to visit social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram. As well as that, users can visit the PlayPod website (which will be linked to the Dublin City Council website) where they can filter their location and check the PlayPod location in their neighbourhood each month.
Several considerations would need to be taken into account in order for the project to be developed further:
● Material and structural design of the Pod
● Social media expansion and development
● Website development
● Further delivery and installation logistics