Designing cities? The use of design thinking in urban planning in Finland
Paper in proceeding, 2020
As the world's urban population grows, the impact of good city planning increases in tandem. With five billion people predicted to live in cities by 2030, the urban environment will either help or hinder sustainable global development. Engaging citizens in both planning and development is a major part in guaranteeing a safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable urban environment. Recently, the ideas of design thinking and service design have begun to get more traction globally, but also in Finland, where a thriving industry of design thinking firms has developed. A field with much interest generated, but where little research exists, is the field of public governance. Public institutions have applied methods based in design thinking in efforts to include citizens in the planning process, to gather feedback on current efforts and projects, and to create a stronger sense of community. The aim of this paper is to further our understanding of the use of design thinking in the Finnish urban planning sector using qualitative methods. Initial results indicate a lack of an accepted standard definition of design thinking in an urban development setting, which could lead to future conflict as many public agents are now including methods derived from design thinking in their work.