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how it started


how it started?

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how it started


how it started?

Having developed a general interest in urban design and strategy in order to inspire integrated societies, it made sense to get a deeper understanding of the current mass migration that's happening in Europe. Berlin clearly seemed to be the most sought after place for refuge, which is why I moved there with this initial research question:

How do you inspire cross cultural integration and tolerance between the refugees and the locals of a city? What are the implications of their inclusion or exclusion, on the urban social landscape of the city?

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research


research

research


research

3 RESEARCH AXIS

Literature Review

State of the Art

User Research


 

LITERATURE REVIEW

The City as Interface

Martijn De Waal

As one of my first inspirations, this book talks about how humans have always tried to design cities, such that they inspire friction and tolerance between the various different cultural groups that inhabit them. He supports this with case studies dating back to the 17th century, all the way till the 21st century. The questions posed about the future of our kind in this accelerating information age were specifically interesting.

Design, When Everybody Designs

Ezio Manzini

Regarded by many as the father of 'social innovation', Ezio Manzini provides an indepth understanding of this design approach. He talks about how co-design and networked grassroot organisations can provide sustainable solutions for many of the social and environmental challenges we are facing. Once again, he supports his philosophy with compelling case studies.


 

STATE OF THE ART

It didn't take long to notice that innumerable initiatives in Berlin are working extensively to help integrate the newcomers into their new lives. For the sake of simplicity, I broadly classified these efforts into 5 categories:

 

Creating a Familiar Environment

Bi'bak, Sharehaus Refugio, Multaka

One approach adopted by several initiatives is 'creating an instance of Syria (or Iraq, Afghanistan etc) in Berlin'. They do this by organizing traditional dinners, concerts, exhibitions etc that represent these nations.
The negative— It doesn't necessarily inspire cross cultural interactions.

Fattoush performing at Sharehaus Refugio

Fattoush performing at Sharehaus Refugio

Cross Cultural Networking

Give Something Back to Berlin, Sharehaus Refugio

The idea here is to create an environment wherein people from different cultures can meet, interact, build tolerance and expand their network. They enable this through co-housing projects, meetups, pop-up art events etc.
But, this doesn't work very well for the folks with language barriers.

Pop-up Open Art Shelter at Heisenheide park

Pop-up Open Art Shelter at Heisenheide park

Language Skills

Singa, Give Something Back to Berlin, Uber Den Tellerand

Language cafes and tandems are widespread and frequent. It provides several opportunities for the newcomers to learn or brush up their English and German
One opinion is that its stressful.

GSBTB Sprache Cafe in session

GSBTB Sprache Cafe in session

Empowerment through Education

Refugee Academy, Kiron, Redi School

Practical education for the newcomers, in order to hone existing skills, and prepare them for the German job market.
However, knowledge of English or German is usually needed as a pre-requisite.

Redi School in session

Redi School in session

Job Market Absorption

Re:start, Workeer, Migrant Hire

Some initiatives are attempting to create a portal to connect employers with potential refugee employees. They provide legal advice, CV building guidance and essentially act as informed mediators between the two parties.
The problem is, many of the newcomers do not have legal work permits yet.

workeer.de

workeer.de


 

USER RESEARCH | people

Regular involvement in volunteering activities for Give Something Back to Berlin, Refugee Academy etc, allowed me to meet innumerable individuals directly or indirectly related to the so-called refugee crisis. Again, they could be broadly categorised into, the refugees:

 
Bashar | 39 years

Bashar | 39 years

Qayum | 25 years

Qayum | 25 years

Tarek | 29 years

Tarek | 29 years

...and the heads of initiatives / seasoned volunteers (SME)

Sinead | 26 years

Sinead | 26 years

Helen | 47 years

Helen | 47 years

Teekay | 49 years

Teekay | 49 years

 

USER RESEARCH | METHODS

Sometimes having a chat with a person isn't insightful enough, in terms of understanding their aspirations and motivations as human beings. Which is why, I adopted a few different approaches to dig deeper, and get a genuine understanding of my target groups.

 
One On One Interviews

One On One Interviews

Hands On Activities

Hands On Activities

Shadowing at refugee camps and events

Shadowing at refugee camps and events

 

USER RESEARCH | enquiries

I used a rough framework of possible enquiries in order to push this research in a meaningful direction. I asked the refugees about their:

 

Ownership towards Berlin

Aspirations for the Future

Technological Literacy

...and for the SMEs I had the following questions:

Motivations

Challenges Faced

Communication Strategies


 

research insights

Varied Backgrounds

The refugees come from several different countries, cultures, social and financial backgrounds.

Phone = WhatsApp

Smartphone usage is extensive amongst the refugee community. WhatsApp is widely used, but for many, thats the extent of their smartphone usage.

'By Syrian for Syrian'

Creating a familiar cultural environment, be it Syrians, Iraqis, Afghanis etc, it definitely ensures greater participation.

Posters and Facebook

Facebook events and in-camp posters are popularly used by initiatives to communicate their activities.

Discovery is a Problem

Inspite of the huge scale of integration programmes, this information doesn't seem to reach a majority of the people.

Scepticism

The legitimacy of these initiatives is doubted my many, keeping them from participating.

Information needs a 'face'

The SMEs unanimously agree that engaging more refugees is a challenge. Information dispensation mechanisms lack the human-touch, which may be responsible for this problem.

Female Participation is Rare

Usually closed female activities are organised in order to engage this group, but otherwise, its difficult to get their participation.

 
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synthesis


synthesis

synthesis


synthesis

The refugee community is in a transition space between arriving in Berlin, and settling down there. An intervention must be made in this space, by building on the foundation that has been laid by the numerous initiatives.

It became clear from the research that there are a lot of initiatives in Berlin that are working in various different spaces in order to help the newcomers integrate into the society. However having said that, it is also apparent that the current system isn't perfect. Which is why, the idea was to identify these holes in the system, and devise a solution to fill in the missing pieces.

To give some structure to the information overload that came out of the research, I created 4 broad achetypes of the research group and mapped them along a journey map, to discover genuine opportunities for intervention.


 

archetype I | ENTERPRISING

This archetype has by far been the most successful at integrating here in Berlin. What makes individuals in this group similar is the fact that all of them are open-minded, realise the importance of networking, meeting people, having self driven initiatives and motivations, grabbing on to opportunities etc. Using these qualities they have managed to build a network of friends and colleagues, which keeps them busy in their everyday lives, and definitely well integrated, socially at least.

"Keep busy, stay positive, meet people and build a network."

 
 

archetype II | URBAN OPEN MINDED

This group usually hails from the cities. They are well educated, well exposed to different cultures, and hence very open minded. They also come across as highly motivated individuals who are looking to sort out their work or educational lives, here in Europe, and have a plan as to how they could achieve that. However, this group also faces some language barriers, though they are working hard on fixing that problem ASAP.

"First I must learn the language. Then I will think about everything else"

 
 

archetype III | RURAL OPEN MINDED

This group usually comes from modest educational and economic backgrounds. They also usually come from the villages and the relatively rural areas, and havn’t had much exposure to urban lifestyles and western culture. However, they are curious individuals with an open mind and spirit, in terms of going out and experiencing new people and cultures. Their practical approach makes them open to mingling, however they have some language barriers as well, making communication and sharing difficult, which holds them back at times.

"If I get a chance to meet people, then I will do it, but I don’t
know what will happen..."

 
 

archetype IV | CULTURALLY RESISTANT

This group of individuals are the most culture shocked. They are very vulnerable and reserved and show no motivation to go out, mingle and accept this new culture. They are generally close minded towards western culture and have huge language barriers as well.

"These people are very different from us. I want to go back home."

 

 

journey map

The journey map plots out the behaviour of the 4 archetypes from the point of 'discovery' of the integration activities, all the way till their 'participation' in said activities. It helped critically assess their behaviours and reservations, with the end goal of identifying key project opportunities.

 
behaviourproblemopportunity ENGAGE discover decide ice break contribute network takeaway follow up PARTICIPATE CONSOLIDATE Unified eventplatform &better UX Becomea rolemodel Becomea catalystfor others Give net-working seminars Becomea rolemodel Super aware No problems No problems Very willing Successful New contacts Semi motivatedMostly unaware of activities CuriousEasy loss ofmotivation Suggestions on unified platform Non- verbalactivities Shy but openLanguage barrier Shy but curiousLanguage & cultural barriers Non- verbalactivities Usually do not Language & cultural barriers Suggest relevantevents Suggest relevantevents Suggest relevantevents Hope: social lifeNot always possible Doesn’t existStagnates the journey Role model figure to inspire Very interestedLanguage barrier Interestsbased eventsuggestions Non- verbalactivities Suggest relevantevents Suggest relevantevents Suggest relevantevents Open to mingleLanguage barrier Open to mingleLanguage barrier Very awareNot all eventsmatch interest Hope: work, eduNot all programsoffer that Doesn’t existStagnates the journey Non- verbalactivities Doesn’t existStagnates the journey Kill timeEnds up as a one-off engagement No motivationIts a pity, since itsin their interest. Suggest relevantevents Suggest relevantevents Suggest relevantevents Effortless, relevant, gamification Intra-culturalUnhealthy forintegration Role modelfigure toinspire No attemptsLeads to alienation In-shelterevents MinimalLanguage & cultural barriers Non- verbalactivities No attemptsLanguage & cultural barriers
 

key opportunities

Event discovery must be unified, personalized and effortless.

A role model figure can insipre greater engagement.

A workshop toolkit enabling non-verbal participation, collaboration and sharing.

A personalized recommendation system that facilitates continued engagement.


 

project framework definition

All the opportunities are held together by 1 common need— information dispensation. These could be the basis of different touchpoint that constitute a single systemic solution. Based on that, I defined the re:boot project as:

re:boot facilitates progressive refugee integration, through a personalised and easy-to-access information delivery system, that engages them in integration programmes.


 

system map

And finally, to get a bird's eye view of how this entire system would work, here is a map illustrating how the key touchpoints ( in red ) connect with each other to form a self sustaining information delivery system.