Together Aalto: Design your experience in Otaniemi || RCA x Aalto University || Service Design

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Project Report Together Aalto. Design your experience in Otaniemi.

MA Service Design, RCA Giulio Ferrato | Yi-Tzu Chang | Kenjiro Taniguchi




The mental wellbeing of students is a serious issue for Aalto University. More than twice as many students as the national average are at high risk of study-related burnout, which also affects their academic performance. The university has made health and wellbeing a central part of its campus development strategy and is taking steps to address this. But given the complexity of the issue, improvements at the university level alone have its limitations.

For three months since October 2020, we have been working on a service design project to address this issue. As part of Aalto University's campus development, the project aims to co-design a service, together with the Aalto community, that serves as a platform for improving student mental wellbeing and creating new campus experience. This project is in collaboration with the Service Design programme at the Royal College of Art and the Architecture programme at Aalto University. This report showcases how a place-based service design project such as campus development can work in a human-centred and collaborative way under the difficult time, as well as provides rich insights for the future campus development of Aalto University.

Project Report

Together Aalto



Content List


About Us


II. Project Brief


III. Our Journey


IV. Student Wellbeing


V. Resource Identification


VI. Design Direction


VII. Prototyping 22 VIII. Service Proposition


IX. Summary 30 X. Key Takeaways


XI. Appendices 34

Photo: Aalto University



Project Report

Introduction About Us

Together Aalto Team is the team that is aimed at creating a service Together with Aalto community. The team is composed of three students from MA Service Design programme at the Royal College of Art. We are rich in the diversity of backgrounds, and carried out the project by integrating the different disciplines of strategic thinking, communication and visual design.

Giulio Ferrato

Yi-Tzu Chang

Kenjiro Taniguchi

A service and product designer with

A UX researcher and design strategist.

A Deputy Director at the Ministry of



With the background in public relations

Internal Affairs and Communication of

Passionate to deliver impact through

and advertising, Yi-Tzu co-founded and

the Government of Japan. He has worked

human-centred design methodologies,

played a managing role in BASED DESIGN

on a number of government projects

using technology as a tool at society's

(, a digital design

including regional revitalisation and

service. He is interested in exploring the

studio in Taipei. She is interested in

government digital transformation with

role service design could have to help

using the skills in UX research and

a background of legislation and public

shape innovation within both social and

service design to make impactful social

management. He is interested in public

systemic levels.


sector innovation through design.

In this project, he worked mainly as

In this project, she worked mainly as

In this project, he worked mainly as

researcher, service and graphic designer

UX researcher, workshop facilitator and

analyst, strategy designer and project

and social communication manager.

stakeholder relationship manager.





Together Aalto






Collaboration is an indispensable

We believe creativity is the result of

We try everything we can to maximise

element of design process. We are

teamwork. It is not something that

the outcome of the project. Especially

committed to good and friendly

a talented person comes up with

under the pandemic, it is not easy to

relationships with our customers and

a brilliant idea, on which everyone

understand the real site and people,

stakeholders. With structured and

relies. We keen to create and maintain

to enrich problem space, to get

well communicated facilitation, our

an atmosphere that allows free and

meaningful insights, and to test out

co-design workshops have a high

creative thinking and is open to all

the assumptions. We make the most of

reputation for having a very welcoming

ideas, consequently leading us to an

digital tools and actively engage with


innovative service ideas.

stakeholders involved.



Introduction Project Brief

Project aim Aalto University is a university established in 2010 as a merger of three major universities in Finland: the Helsinki University of Technology, the Helsinki School of Economics, and the University of Art and Design Helsinki. The campus is located in Espoo, very close to Helsinki, the capital city of Finland, and it enjoys a very convenient transportation access, full of nature, and a set of historical buildings designed by renowned architect Alvar Aalto. As part of its campus development, Aalto University aims to realise the transformation of Otakaari road, the main road of Aalto Campus, into a street during the forthcoming years. Otakaari Road runs through the heart of the campus, but in the current state, many people do not prefer staying on this main street. Many say that it is very quiet, way far from a lively highstreet. They even do not recognise Otakaari Road as the 'main street' of the campus. One of the biggest reason it that this road is designed for vehicular traffic. Even though the traffic volume is quite low, approximately 1 in 15 minutes, this main street is dominated by traffic roads. People only use it as a thoroughfare, and there is no reason for people to stay there. The overall aim of the project is to redesign the whole Otakaari area in such a way that this road is expected to be revitalised. We collaborated with students from Aalto University to tackle this challenge. The Aalto students designed the indoor and outdoor architecture, the roads and the layout of the structures from an architectural point of view, while we, the RCA students, designed the necessary services from a service design point of view. Specifically, the brief requests us to design services that can serve as platforms for co-creating value, opening the Aalto campus to the city and turning a road into a lively street and community.

Project Report

Together Aalto



Basic degree students 2019

Number of Students (2019)

Bachelor’s and master’s degrees

d master’s degrees Research funding and articles

Rankings in key research areas

Ranking in key research areas ICT and digitalisation

ShanghaiRanking: Telecommunication Engineering 22 (2018: 28) US News: Computer Science 33 (2018: 43)

Global business dynamics

ShanghaiRanking: Business Administration 29 (2018: 34) Management 32 (2018: 36)

Advanced energy solutions

ShanghaiRanking: Electrical & Electronic Engineering 76-100 (2018: 51–75)

Human-centred living environments

QS: Architecture/Built Environment 2020: 41 (2019: 42)

Arts and design knowledge building

QS: Art & Design 2020: 7 (2019: 7)

Health and wellbeing

ShanghaiRanking: Medical Technology 101–150 (2018: 101–150)

Materials and sustainable use of natural resources

ShanghaiRanking: Mining and Mineral Engineering 76–100 (2018: 51–75)

(Source: Aalto University 2020a)

Photo: Aalto University



Project Report

Student wellbeing In a project to help Aalto University develop its campus, it

that are easily disturbed by, for example, sleep deprivation,

is very important to understand its existing development

depression, poor study conditions, or conflict situations.

strategy. Through the analysis of the campus vision and strategies, including CAMPUS+, Campus Strategy 2020-30,

The mental wellbeing of students is a serious issue for Aalto

and Roadmap 2020-30, we have identified five themes to be

University as well. More than twice as many students as the

addressed through the project, which are "Health & Wellbeing",

national average are at high risk of study-related burnout,

"Diversity & Inclusion", "Social, Community & Cultural Life",

which also correlates with their academic performance. Aalto

"Economic & Business Renewal", and "Sustainability".

University has a very unique campus development strategy that puts health and wellbeing, especially student mental

Of these themes, we have chosen Health & Wellbeing as

wellbeing, as the central concept of its campus development.

our starting point. Studying is a demanding work. It requires

For example, Campus Vision emphasises the rising stress

the exercising of mental skills, as well as the assumption of

and health issues, and sets their strategy as to utilise green

responsibility for one’s choices, the planning of one’s studies

spaces in the campus as an irreplaceable resource to support

and the use of time. It requires cognitive skills, creative

the quality of life to realise a healthy campus.

thinking and information processing. All these are factors

Aalto Campus Vision Since 2018, Aalto University's task force has worked on updating its campus strategy. The task force conducted desktop research on various areas including global trends, future universities and campus development, did benchmarking through comparative analysis of other university campuses, and organised workshops and discussion sessions, all of which resulted in three vision options for the Aalto Campus 2050: "Community Works", "Information Resort", and "Health Wave". With the feedback from the partners and students, "Health Wave", which put wellbeing as central concept, was selected. While this vision was modified to "CAMPUS+" by including other supported perspectives from the other areas of the strategy process, this unique wellbeing-focused nature of the vision has been retained.

Health Wave Vision of 2050 Otaniemi’s renowned well-being campus has grown to become part of

lifestyle which seeks out a good balance between work and free time.

the urban tapestry of Helsinki and Espoo, but has also succeeded in

These factors attract the best from around the world to come to study

retaining its village feel. Familiar faces greet passers-by, and the area

and work on the campus. The well-being campus boasts creativity

is imbibed with an accepting and lively culture which supports quality-

and quality-of-life. Otaniemi’s natural qualities are supplemented by

of-life and well-being. The student culture is very active and gives the

luscious gardens, parks, courtyards and walkways. There is a wider

area its own unique identity.

variety of natural habitats than before, ranging from wetlands to meadows, and the most significant effects of climate change have

The campus’s harmonious and beautiful surroundings bring wholeness

been dealt with by combining cost-effective natural alternatives with

to both a human mind torn by digitalisation and to people’s fragmented

innovative but expensive technological methods.

timetables. The campus also has digital-free areas where visitors can focus on their thoughts without being distracted. The architecture and

People get around the campus using either automatic transport or on

outside areas have retained their traditional, clear features. Together

foot, and trips outside of the campus are made by rail. Otaniemi has a

with its partners and students, the university develops the campus’

comprehensive and diverse network of recreational routes which help

new and innovative residential areas that support meaningful social

to tackle the health problems caused by automation and also attract

and private life for different groups.

visitors from different parts of the metropolitan area. Along these routes can be found sports areas, play areas and other recreational

In the Otaniemi campus area, well-being is central, and the area is known for its splendid outdoor spaces, clean-air and human-centred

areas for all different ages. (Source: Aalto University, 2018a)

Together Aalto



"City as a platform" model


Service layer

Foster ineraction Create ecosystem value

Other resources

(people, knowledge, data)


Orchestrate resources

Photo: Aalto University

Platformization Another part of the brief was to think about the service which

the multi-stakeholder interaction in order to create the

serves as a platform. The idea of platformization is composed

identified ecosystem value.

of three elements, which is (1) harnessing the resources, (2) facilitating the multi-stakeholder interaction, and (3) creating ecosystem values.

With this framework in mind, the following sections describe: » How our overall design process looks like (p.10-11)

The model of the “city as a platform” we have developed

» What value we identified to be realised in order to

from this is shown in the diagram above. At the lowest level,

address the problem of student wellbeing (p.12-15)

there are physical and non-physical resources, which are to be harnessed in the service that facilitates stakeholder interaction at the highest layer, then as a consequence creates socio-economic, cultural and environmental values. From this strategic perspective, the project can be summarised as to explore and understand the resources that we can utilise in Aalto University, to identify what kinds of value we can create in the context of student mental wellbeing, and to design a service that can harness the resources and facilitate

» What resources we identified as the assets to be harnessed in the service (p.16-19) » How we came up with the service ideas and how we validated them (p.20-23) » What is the service proposition that incorporates all the learnings we got through the process (p.24-31).



Project Report

Introduction Our Journey

Our design journey can be summarised as being strategically experimental, fully collaborative, and enthusiastically ambitious. Through the online co-design workshops and rigorous prototype testing, combined with digital marketing methodologies, we could ensure the whole service proposition be built with the set of wellvalidated service building blocks.

Internal workshop As a kick-off of the project,


we first held an internal sprint session to have an overview of the process.


This led us to start a short

we consistently conducted

survey to narrow down the

interviews with students






teachers, student






well as professionals who work on wellbeing services around It



campus. understand

students themselves, their

Initial survey We started our project with a simple survey to Aalto students






narrow down our focus. This led us to focus more on the daily routine of the students.

campus wellbeing









number of service ideas through We


the get

interviews. numerous

feedback on our ideas and assumptions.

Together Aalto


18 22

+200 Social media followers since Oct. 2020

In-depth interviews

266 +1,500

workshop participants would like to recommend our co-design workshop to a friend or classmates

Service ideas


Including crowd-sourced service ideas from students, faculty members, service providers




prototypes tested with

survey response with

people in Aalto

95% students, 5% faculty


We organised two online

We created prototypes to

co-creation workshops to

test out the hypotheses.

co-learn student lifestyle





validated of


learned from the feedback,















more in depth, to crowdinterventions,





Workshop participants


Social media post engagement

level, to


validate and upgrade the

hypothesis and prototype,

service ideas together.

and tested again.

Co-creation Our process was based on the concept of co-design, but we did not simply make a proposal and be done with it. We co-designed a

Social media We created social media accounts



Twitter and Facebook, as our channel not only to get attention but also to communicate and collect the information from the students — the Instagram account has more than 150 followers so far.


platform service that could also be


and co-operated.



Project Report

Research Student Wellbeing

To get a brief overview of the student perception of mental wellbeing, we started our research with a simple survey, asking Aalto students what makes them feel good. The result shows that students are more likely to understand their wellbeing as being rooted in their daily lives, such as studying, having a good breakfast, cooking, having exercise and so on. This leads us to focus more on daily routine rather than curing or dealing with mental illnesses. Then we started to reach out to people through interviews, social media interactions, and a workshop to get a deeper understanding. In the interviews and workshop, we came across various kinds of comments that formed our understanding of the landscape of student wellbeing in Aalto University. Among them, we identified that there are two areas that come up again and again, which are (1) study-related stress and (2) social connections.

Study-related stress First, students have high level of interested in study success,

on watching videos or scrolling social media that they feel

and think that managing their time and stress is important to

lazy to go back to work.

achieve that goal. We heard many similar comments that a lot of the

“A lot of students want to get high grades and

students would like to take as many courses as

do many things at the same time,

possible in Aalto University seem to have a high

and graduate on time.�

standard of study success to themselves and want to have a high engagement to their academic works.

– Interviewee, BA student

However, although students want to take time to focus on their studies, it is not going to be as easy as they

Some students are good at dealing with this stress by setting

would like, which leads to further stress. Some students

small goals and deadlines to focus. One of the interviewees

honestly told us in the workshop that they feel themselves as

showed us the detailed daily task list that is aimed at discipline

being lazy, having too much break or spending too much time

herself. She said it works to reduce being anxious about the

Together Aalto


Students with high-risk study-related burn-out


Top 2 difficulties encountered during studies

20 Sleep

University students (%)


Eating Time management Stress




Procrastination Friendship Romance

Aalto 0


Finland 0




Response rate (%) (Source: Aalto University 2018c)

(Source: Nyyti ry 2019)

Photo: Aalto University

things to do, and focus on




she set, making herself feel things to be under

“I plan my day very detailed, set small goals and deadlines to focus, and check to feel better.� – Interviewee, MA student


assignments often




at similar times. This indicates that not only the



management but also the long-term and short-term planning We also learned from the students and the teachers that one

is an essential part of study productivity.

of the most frequently observed behavioural patterns among the students is that they do not plan much at the beginning

A manager of a non-profit organisation providing student

of the period, taking a lot of courses assuming that they

mental health service in Finland told us that time management

can manage to complete them, but nothing gets done until

and stress management are the most discussed topics during

halfway of the period when they start panicking and finally

the chat and talk sessions it holds. The campus survey also

get to work. This pattern can cause unimaginable workload

shows that 39.8 % of the students say time management is

during the final few weeks of the period, because tests and

one of the difficulties they faced during the study period.



Project Report

Social connections Second area that came up a lot in the research is the importance of social connection for their campus life and students' mental wellbeing, which is the relationships people have with the people around them.

mapping exercise, many of these places overlapped with places where they spend time with their friends. Interestingly, we also found that the link between social

We heard a lot of stories from interviewee students

Students who study with their friends or have

that they hang out with their friends to walk around

good relationships with their teachers are likely

or cook and eat together at the dormitory. We also found that many students take advantage of the very wide variety of opportunities for interaction

to manage their stress better. – Interviewee, Manager at Aalto University

with other students, including events organised by student associations. connections and wellbeing exists not only through direct The significance of human relationships in campus life was

routes, but also through indirect routes. According to a

evident from the exercise we had in the workshop. When asked

university team conducting student wellbeing surveys for

to describe their ideal day, almost all students would like to

promoting reform of curriculum and teaching methodology,

spend lunch or dinner with a friend or roommate. When asked

students who are more likely to study with their friends tend

about their favourite places on campus in the participatory

to be more successful in their studies, reducing study-related

Favourite place Place to hang out Place to eat Place to self-study Place to relax

Together Aalto



stress. Also, it is said that students who have Social deficiencies among university students (%)

teachers who are more encouraging and trying to keep good relationship with students are also more likely to be positive in studying.

Rarely together with friends

At the same time, through the interviews, we students' difficulties in their relationships. Some international students said that because of the culture and language barrier, it’s hard for them to make local friends and stay involved in the

University students (%)

were able to learn about the realities of the

Often feel loneliness


community. So they try to be accompanied with

No dialogical support from family, kin or friends




friends in their own community.


The report of the National Student Wellbeing





Survey shows the biggest trends in the rise of wellbeing deficiencies of socialisation. It points

(Source: Kunttu et al. 2017)

out that among three well-being deficiencies,

Due to the language and cultural barrier, I don't even have a Finnish Friend. [...] I know I should and could make more friends, but it's also stressful." – Interviewee, MA student which are study-related, social, and subsistence deficiency, the frequency of social deficiency observed is the lowest (3.8%). However, highest

Psychological symptoms in different wellbeing deficiency

proportion (more than 30%) of respondents report

concludes that the most alarming trend is related to deficiencies in social well-being among students, with growing proportion of university students lacked close social relationships or experienced loneliness or lack of dialogical support from family, kin or friends. The














connections is that it is not so easy to solve. One of the students we interviewed pointed out that




) 7% 6. Su



n te



) 2% 6.




l re



.0 (8

%) So

c ia





Proportion of respondents (%)

most severe with highest GHQ-12 symptom index. It

Estimated Marginal Means GHQ-12

psychological symptoms, and are psychologically

developing social connections is something that requires energy, adding more stress on their shoulder. We learned that we need to enrich their social connections in a natural way, that would not put additional stress.

= Symptomatic

= Severely Symptomatic

= GHQ-12 (Source: Kunttu et al. 2017)



Project Report

Research Resource Identification

The second part of our research was to understand the resource that can be harnessed to create ecosystem value. Through the interviews and workshop, we identified three key resources, which are (1) students and student associations, (2) existing wellbeing services, and (3) natural environment of Otaniemi Campus.

Students as an asset In Aalto University, there are 11,205 students from countries

In order to understand their needs in a clearer way to be

all over the world. Throughout the interviews and workshops,

potentially matched mutually among students, we identified

we observed a wide variety of students in terms not only of

four types of students along the issues identified in the

programme, nationality or gender, but also of stress-level,

research, and named them: “Wondering students”, “Engaged

campus lifestyles and social activities.

students”, “Social students” and “Balanced students”.

There are a lot of student run associations, running very efficiently and quite rigorously on our campus. - Interviewee, Alumni and tutor

We also found out that, in Aalto University, the students association has been playing an important role in connecting students together. There are two large student associations, which is AYY and KY, under whose umbrella a number of student associations are organised. These student associations not only include hobby-based groups, but also are organised

We find that bridging these different types of students by

based on the programme and study-field. Many students

facilitating interaction is a great opportunity. Comments from

mentioned that these study-related student associations

students and teachers suggested that students were more

play a central role for community-building at Aalto University.

likely to value the exchange of information among students

There are a wide range of opportunities that we can work

than being taught. We realised that this diversity of students

together to design and deliver the service by utilising their

itself is the resource that we may be able to make use of by

knowledge and enthusiasm.

harnessing the skills and experience among students.

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Engaged students

Balanced students

They have high engagement in the study, but they

They manage to balance their engagement with

feel they do not have enough social connections

study and social life, having relatively strong

and need some social connections. They organise

connections within and outside of campus with

their time and energy into study and self-care,

relatively productive study-life.

rather than stressing themselves by socialising. Needs: » To develop social connections » More opportunities to share their ways of

Lower study-


related stress

» More opportunities for community

managing their study

» To help out students in need engagement



Wondering students


Higher studyrelated stress

Social students

They are typically a new-comer to the university,

They are likely to have strong friendships in the

facing a sense of loneliness and being worried

campus, feeling comfortable in the inner circle of

about how to cope with their workloads as

the community. Although they enjoy their campus

students. They want to know the know-how of how

life, it is sometimes difficult for them to manage

to manage their time for study, and their personal

their stress of balancing time and energy for

and social life.

studying and socialising.



» To get support from people around

» To balance social life and study

» Clues to manage their study-related stress

» More engagement in study



Project Report

National level

Amazon Prime

Come-back Support Community level



Cure ill-being

Prevention (Raise wellbeing)

Therapy Appointment Groups activities

University level


Nature trails Other Entertainment

Online chat Starting Point of Wellbeing

Course structure adjustment

Online therapies Self-improvement courses

Study & career planning psychologist

Psychiatrist Well-being group

AllWell? Questionnaire

Aalto University

Local health station

Online cooking recipe site Mental health event

Mentoring service

Nyyti ry (NPO; student mental health) FSHS (Finnish Student Health Service)) ESPOO ESBO

Town hall meeting


City events

Mental health week


National mental health day

Raising awareness

Existing wellbeing services Based on our interview and desk-research, there are a lot

and prevent people from falling into mental illness. We think

of clinical and psychological mental health services, and

this is an interesting opportunity area for a new service

services that are to raise awareness of mental health issues.


Also, the university offers some preventative service. For example, the university faculties have been adjusting their

That said, based on our interviews with some of the service

curriculum not to put too much stress on the students, and

providers, they are very keen to collaborate with us to design

also developed some courses of time management or stress

new services. We found it is a huge opportunity for us to

management for students.

take their expertise and information as resources, and try to collaborate with them in support of our service.

On the other hand, we found that there is still a gap especially at the community level that is to improve mental wellbeing


Key Insights

Together Aalto



Students are stressed by their ambition of study success, and want to improve their productivity with better planning and routine.


Developing social connection is a crucial part of student wellbeing, but is also stressful to put effort on.


Diversity of the students is the biggest asset, and can be harnessed through the channels of the student associations.


Natural environment and existing services provide an opportunity for being imtegrated through the service intervention.

Natural environment A lot of students we talked identified the most unique and valuable asset that the Aalto University holds is the affluence of the natural environment in the campus. 36.5% of the total site is covered with forest, which is twice as large as central Helsinki. The workshop exercise also showed that people prefer

(Source: SLA 2018)

being in the coastline surrounding the campus from east to north and west, the many forests to the north and west, and

identity of Otaniemi Campus. Integrating natural aspects into

grassland in the centre of the campus, where they relax and

the service is an opportunity in order to blend it in with the

hangout with their friends. A green campus can be said as the

Aalto campus lifestyle..



Project Report

Design Design Direction

"How might we create a healthy campus community with reduced study-related stress and richer social connections, through harnessing the diversity of the students and natural resources of Otaniemi campus?"

Together Aalto



Nudge students towards better productivity

Create easy access to social connections

Develop skills useful throughout the life

Service should not add new stress on

It is important to note that developing

The achievements through the designed

students by mandating a particular

social connections requires energy.

service should not merely the success in

behaviour, but rather encourage them.

Service should be design that fosters

study periods or temporary happiness,

It should be designed to naturally

social connection, where students can

but a process of learning skills how to

improve productivity skills through

meet and share their experience with

learn that would be useful throughout

what makes theme want to join without

each other. Student associations can


being forced.

and should be a key enabler.

Photo: Aalto University



Project Report

Design Prototyping

Prototyping Strategy Based on the above "how might we" question and design

It was of course not possible to plan this process entirely in a

principles, we crowd-sourced a very wide variety of service

strategic way. The actual process was never a linear process,

ideas from Aalto University students, teachers and service

it went back and forth, and there were many unexpected by-

providers. This pool of ideas became the rich source of our

products revealed during the process. The key of the strategy


was to formulate small hypotheses in different levels, put them into prototypes, test them on real users, and reflect

Our prototyping strategy was to test out as many small bits

the feedback back into the service so that the whole service

and pieces as possible, of all levels from the strategy and

proposition could be built with the set of

mechanism to function and interface. We did not hesitate to

building blocks. The prototypes we built and tested are

show it to users and test it even if the fidelity was not high to

summarised below, according to the level of hypothesis and

get useful feedback. In this way we planned to ensure that our

the level of integrity. The following page summarise the key

service proposal was validated down to the smallest detail.

hypotheses in and feedback to each prototype.


Higher fidelity Manual Us Sports





Interface Virtual



Lower fidelity



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Prototypes Prototype


Key hypothesis

Main feedback


A one-day session on every

A sense of authority with guided time

"I like the idea of having a higher authority, or

Saturday for students to improve

structure will improve productivity.

guidance, giving you control."

One-day-session will be good to fully

"Need flexibility to jump in/out."

experience productive study.

"One day in the weekend may be too challenging."

Natural environment helps

"Does this consider the winter weather? Not as good

people relax and hence improve

when weather is bad."


study productively. By joining the programme, students can focus on work and have relaxing time at the same time. By completing the hardwork together with other students, it creates a sense of belongings. Students can also enjoy 1-day free use of gym that help develop a healthy work-life balance.

productivity. Study activity itself will be a trojan

"Student-run service would work better for me."

horse inviting people to learn how to improve productivity.



Working together the whole day

"Doubtful that this will 'build community.'"

creates the sense of comrade,

"Community-building usually happens through

creating community.

student associations (based on study field)."

Free use of university gym as a

"Not attractive for both of those who use the

reward will be an incentive to join as

gym regularly because they already have the

well as help develop a healthy work-

membership, and those who don't use the gym

life balance.

because they will not be interested."

A daily workout sessions that

Sports activity will help students

"The connections between study/work and sport-

welcomes students to a community

manage stress.

relaxing is not as relevant."

Sports activity will help create a

"Connecting people with similar schedule can be



to stay active and social. The app guides and tracks the daily activity as a game, awarding the best performer

"Not everyone feels comfortable working out with

of the week. It also suggests a

new people or even people around."

workout buddy by schedule and sports performance, helping stay on track and create more connection. Virtual

Productivity Room

Manual Us

Gamification will help people

"Reward doesn't seem motivating enough"

motivated and join sports easily.

An online group study session to do

Working with friends will help people

"Chatting with friends during break was nice. And

their individual tasks with the help of

focus on work, even in virtual space.

then, everyone starts working after break." "Virtually feeling people around forced me to focus."

Pomodoro Technique. Showing the timer of Pomodoro cycle

"By seeing there's only short time left, I push myself

will help people focus.

to finish the task I was working on."

A calendar book that includes

A notebook will be better for

"People have very different specific preference for

yearly, periodically, weekly and daily

students to bring with themselves.

notebooks. If not fitting my taste, I'm not going to use."

planning tools, supporting students to plan their academic journey.

Physical interface can be a better

"If you have digital version that should be better."

touch-point for students to plan. It can be integrated into the

"There's numerous discussion on that book every

student notebook that the student

year. Only a slight chance."

association publishes every year. Blackbook


An online student-run platform

Students helping each other through

"It would be a huge help to get peers’ advice before

where students share information,

sharing information of the courses

planning to prevent last-minute-rush scenario."

feelings and feedback of courses and

will help them plan their academic

teachers with each other.

journey wisely.

An integrated app that through

An one-stop app is an efficient way to

"A bit too complicated. The function of information

gamification supports study

bring about students' virtuous circle

sharing doesn't seem to be interconnected with

activities from choosing the course,

of planning and studying.

other functions."

Gamification will be an attraction for

"I have my doubts about how attractive gamification

students to enjoy being in the loop.

is to students. I personally don't attach much

planning long- and short-term schedule, to daily work.

importance to it."



Project Report

Running out of time for your task? Can't stop swiping your phone? We are here to help.

Together Aalto



Solution Service Proposition

Overview We provide an integrated physical and digital working platform that boosts your study performance, together with your peers. "Aha! Space" is the place to learn how to learn. It has the rooms to dramatically improve your productivity with a unique time structure, and also comes with organised workshops by the student associations that you can go to with your teammates to learn soft skills. With "Aha! App" you can do the productivity sessions by yourself, and with your friends, virtually, anywhere and anytime you want.

Photo: Aalto University

Achieve your study success through boosting your productivity.

Free up your mind from study-stress by getting things done.

Learn what you don't learn from lectures.

Upgrade campus life together with your peers.



Project Report

Aha! Space “Aha! Space� is located at the heart of redesigned Otakaari Street, and provides two modes of services to guide students learn how to learn: one is to help develop productive working routine, and the other is to support student-led co-learning activities. Designed for your study success. In Aha! Space, you will experience a very unique

"I think this sense of authority or guidance is the most attractive part."

yet effective study environment where everyone

- Interviewee, Alumni and tutor

in the room following the Pomodoro Technique of 25-minute work and 5-minute break repeatedly. There is a big stop watch on the wall, and the faint

sharing sessions that help students choose courses and plan

natural sounds help students focus on the work during the

better based on real voices of the senior students, and more

working time, and relaxing musics during the break time inform

soft skills that are not being taught in or able to learn from

students to take a break. This happens in both the individual-

the regular course works.

work space and group-work space. Having everyone around you concentrating helps to discipline yourself, and having

The contents and the structure of the workshops and sessions

everyone take a break at the same time also works to study

are designed in collaboration with the organiser such as

without getting tired. This time structure shared with people

student associations and university faculties. By being based on the specific working modes and needs of each

"By seeing there's only 7 minutes left, I could push myself to finish the task in front of me." - Interviewee, MA student

programme, the workshops are customised to be relevant to the participating students. We also provide the expertise of workshop facilitation for the student associations and faculty members to successfully organise their workshops.

around creates a sense of belonging and an environment for

Surrounded by nature.

spontaneous interactions among students.

People can enjoy the full benefit of nature that characterises the Otaniemi Campus. In collaboration with the Aalto

Through a very simple mechanism of providing time-based

architecture students, we redesigned Otakaari Road from a

guidance and a little bit of social pressure, the service has

traffic road into a pedestrian street with different kinds of

the effect of a productive learning experience and social

devices to keep people stay on, including a forest dining,


grasslands, an outdoor cafe, and pop-up street markets. Aha! Space is on the ground floor of Otakaari 4 building located

Workshops to learn soft skills.

at the heart of this new Otakaari Street. It is the place where

Aha! Space provides not only the space to study and work,

this nature-rich lively street meets the "green corridor" that

but also collaborates with different student associations and

connects the forest area in the west with the coastline area

university faculties to run a series of workshops and sessions

in the east.

on various topics. This will include time management workshops to help students plan better preventing them

Not only the outside green but also the indoor green we

from falling into the vicious cycle of non-plan, concentrated

implement also plays an important role to keep students'

workload and burn-out, stress management sessions to learn

mental wellbeing. Being located on the ground floor helps

how to control and relieve stress, team building workshop

build up the sense of indoor-outdoor connection, which can

to help improve interdisciplinary collaboration, experience

also support students' activity during winter time.

Together Aalto



Aha! space

Aha! space

Aha! Space plan

Design: Qiu Yanxia



Project Report

Aha! App Aha! App enables you to study in a similar environment as in Aha! Space, virtually at home. It connects you with your fellow students and maximises your productivity. Boost your productivity together. Through Aha! App, you can do your own Pomodoro cycles with

Share the time, virtually together.

your selected background sounds. The app gives you different types of tips before you start working and during the break time that help you keep focused as well as to relieve your stress and relax. The app not only allows you to use the Pomodoro Technique on your own, but you can also synchronize the time with the physical Aha! Space. Then you can see how many people are woking in the physical and virtual Aha! space using this single timer at the moment. You can also add your friends within

Add your friends and share your work.

the app and open a virtual study room to do the work with them. These functions make you feel like you are working in the same space together with your fellow students, creating a sense of belongings even in virtual space.

Physical and digital integration. Aha! Space and App work together in an integrated way. For example, when entering the Aha! Space, you will scan the QR code in the app, so the app starts track your working efforts. You will be able to look back later on and see how great you

Book a place at Aha! Space.

have worked on your study. Also, you can see how many people are using the space as well as the vacancy through the app and book a group work space. By scanning the QR code at the entrance of the Aha! Space, you can share with your group members that you are in the Space to invite them to work together. This can be a small nudge, improving study productivity together with your peers.

Achieve lifelong skills. With Aha! Space and app, our service builds a strong circulation in the community, by giving all types of students the flexibility to choose what suits them the best. By utilizing the physical and virtual spaces can bring about the best outcome and support system for the student in their campus life. We would like to inspire and encourage students to use these spaces to self-learn and co-learn the skills they can carry on even after their graduation.

Scan you in at the campus.

Together Aalto




Scan the QR code at Aha! Space.


Share with your friends and teammates to work together.


Work together at Aha! Space :)



Project Report

Solution Summary

The diagram shows the summary of the concepts included

through prototyping, that became six main functions of our

in the service proposition. From the research findings, we

service: planning support, time structure with Pomodoro

identified the core objectives of the service are (1) to reduce

Technique, social pressure, working with peers, and two types

study-related stress through improving study productivity,

of workshop – one is the utilisation of existing time- and

and (2) to enrich social connections. We figured out the


mechanisms to achieve these goals, that is a better planning

and the other is the workshops to be organised by student

and working routine for productivity, and peer support for

associations. The experience can be categorised into physical

social connections. We tested how the mechanisms work

and virtual productivity sessions, and on-site workshops.

workshops offered by the university,

& Group Productivity ual Ses d i iv sio Ind ns at


or t

c ture - Pomo dor e stru o

su pp


ter planning

i e nd rt





or W


Wo s rksh ion ciat op by s tudent asso


t" Ah

yo ur fr

f by



h op

Peer sup


Social Connection


s Work




e in

Study Productivity





nin g

lp c ia

king / stud y in Wor gr o

a! S


"Aha! App" and ce" pa !S ha "A


Together Aalto



Photo: Aalto University



Project Report

Conclusion Key takeaways

There has been a number of achievements and learnings through the project that can inform the future works in Aalto University. The main takeaways from these achievements and learnings that can inform the future service development in Aalto University can be categorised into those related to process, research finding and service concept. Process: The power of online co-creation. First of all, we learned so much of the power of co-design process. From the identification of the problems to the design of service details, the input from the students debunked many of our hypotheses, pushed us to reconsider, and provided a lot of learning. Their ideas were a rich source of inspiration for the construction of the service proposal. Aalto University has the privilege of enjoying the collaboration with students in designing services and strategies, for example by organising student workshops through student associations to develop a future campus vision. This is great, but it sometimes seems to be the case that collaboration only happens as a form

co-design workshops we held made it clear that the online

of consultation. This project highlights the effectiveness

workshops have the potential of providing more insight than

of working with students from the beginning of the project

the physical workshops in that the workshop facilitators are

throughout to the actual design and delivery.

able to follow individual moves.

As a space-based project, the situation under pandemic that

Research: Students for student wellbeing.

has inevitably led to a predominance of online activities, was

When we think of mental health, we tend to think of people

a challenge. However, we believe that this rather expanded

who are depressed or suffering from mental illnesses. It is

the possibilities of the co-creation process. Online marketing,

true that treatment for these people is very important and

including social networking interactions, has enabled us to

should not be neglected. However, what has become more

reach people who would otherwise be difficult to reach. The

apparent through the research is the importance of taking

fact that people have become accustomed to communicating

preventative measures to avoid such serious situations. In this

through online tools such as Zoom has contributed to gaining

respect, we were fortunate to discover early on in the design

more insights in a more efficient way. Of course it was difficult

process that mental health is deeply rooted in the everyday

to get a sense of the atmosphere on the project site, but we

lives of students. The students themselves recognise that it

were able to get a glimpse of the nuances by asking local

is not something special that they do, but the small successes

students to take and share videos. In addition, the two online

that they build up in their daily lives that have a significant

Together Aalto



Âť Online interactions under pandemic have broadened the opportunity for collaboration and co-design. Âť Students themselves will be the key enebler for dealing with student mental wellbeing on campus. Âť A simple service that harnesses resource on campus can be an effective solution for student wellbeing issue.

impact on their mental health. It was also very useful to see

is it in a large scale. Some people may feel that this is not

where the difficulties lie in realising these desirable routines,

enough. But there is a big lesson that tiny intervention of

despite being aware of them.

mere time guidance, small social pressures and the support for spontaneous connections can have an impact on mental

Another important finding from the research that can inform

wellbeing. We believe that it is valuable to keep this learning

the future service development at Aalto University is the

into consideration when implementing a health and wellbeing

students' willingness to try new things. The students we met

service, especially if it requires huge complexities and cost.

through this project were not simply waiting for someone else to provide them with a service. Throughout our conversations

Lastly, the proposed service provides a platform for students

with the teachers, we could also sense that the students were

to connect, learn and develop together. It harnesses the

willing to try new things. We believe that this finding is a very

diversity of the student and foster interactions between them

important asset for creating and developing new services in

in an effective way because they share the common goal of

university settings.

study success. By looking very closely with students, we are convinced that this model of platformization that utilises the

Service concept: Simple, and effective.

common interest of students could be an useful reference for

The service we have designed together with Aalto community

the future development of university strategies and services.

is not something that requires a complicated system, nor



Project Report

Appendix 1 Workshop: Asset Safari

Favourite place Place to hang out Place to eat Place to self-study Place to relax

Objective: Asset Safari was aimed at identifying the assets of the campus through participatory mapping. Also, it was designed to identify what students usually do at the place they liked the most.

Process: Participant students were first asked to put yellow stickers on the place they like the most. Then, they were told to put blue stickers on the place where they hang out with their friends, green stickers where they eat, purple stickers where they study alone, and red stickers where they relax.

Key results: 1.

Students showed no interest on Otakaari Road, which was our main project site.


Many students identified Väre building, coastlines and forests as their favourite places.


Their favourite places generally overlap with the place where they hang out with their friends, or where they relax.

Together Aalto



Appendix 2 Workshop: Ideal Monday













10 x





x x











x x x

x x



x x x x x x x x x x

x x x x


x x


x x x x

= Sleep

= Workout

= Eat

x x x x

= Work/study

= Relax

Objective: Ideal Monday was aimed at understanding the desirable daily routine of the students, and identifying the gap between the ideal and the reality.

Process: Participant students were first asked to think realistically about what they would do on next Monday. Then, they were asked to individually design an ideal time-line of that day identifying their activities using sticky-notes. After that, they were told to share their ideal Monday with the group and identify the barriers or challenges for them to make it a reality.

Key results: 1.

Students are willing to balance work/study, social life (represented in "x" in the above time-line), and private life.


Barriers and challenges commonly identified by students include: procrastination, wrong prioritisation, forgetting to take breaks, too much time spending on social media, unplanned social gathering, etc.




Aalto University. 2018a. ‘Aalto University Campus 2050’, Aalto University Website <> [accessed 22 January 2021] ———. 2018b. ‘History’, Aalto University Website <> [accessed 22 January 2021] ———. 2018c. ‘Study Well-Being Questionnaire AllWell? And the Development of Teaching at Aalto University’, Aalto University Website <> [accessed 22 January 2021] ———. 2020a. ‘Key Figures of 2019 and Reports’, Aalto University Website <> [accessed 22 January 2021] ———. 2020b. ‘Strategy Materials’, Aalto University Website <> [accessed 22 January 2021] Aceijas, Carmen, Sabrina Waldhäusl, Nicky Lambert, Simon Cassar, and Rafael Bello-Corassa. 2017. ‘Determinants of Health-Related Lifestyles among University Students’, Perspectives in Public Health, 137.4: 227–36 Anttiroiko, Ari-Veikko. 2016. ‘City-as-a-Platform: The Rise of Participatory Innovation Platforms in Finnish Cities’, Sustainability: Science Practice and Policy, Innovation in Public Governance, 8.9: 922 [accessed 20 July 2020] Borghys, Koen, Shenja van der Graaf, Nils Walravens, and Mathias Van Compernolle. 2020. ‘Multi-Stakeholder Innovation in Smart City Discourse: Quadruple Helix Thinking in the Age of “Platforms”’, Frontiers in Sustainable Cities, 2: 77 [accessed 20 July 2020] Kunttu, Kristina, Tommi Pesonen, and Juhani Saari. 2017. ‘Student Health Survey 2016: A National Survey among’ <https://1285112865.> [accessed 22 January 2021] Moazed, Alex. 2016. ‘Platform Business Model - Definition’, APPLICO <> [accessed 5 August 2020] Nyyti ry. 2019. ‘Survey on the Mental Wellbeing and Needs of International Freshers at the University of Helsinki’ Salmela-Aro, Katariina, and Sanna Read. 2017. ‘Study Engagement and Burnout Profiles among Finnish Higher Education Students’, Burnout Research, 7: 21–28 Van Alstyne, Marshall W., Geoffrey G. Parker, and Sangeet Paul Choudary. 2016. ‘Pipelines, Platforms, and the New Rules of Strategy’, Harvard Business Review <> [accessed 5 August 2020] Walravens, Nils. 2013. ‘The City as a Service Platform: A Typology of City Platform Roles in Mobile Service Provision’ <https://www.> [accessed 20 July 2020]

Project Report

Together Aalto

Thank you. We would like to show our appreciation to everyone who supported our project, especially to Aalto Architecture programme, Aalto students, student union AYY, AllWell? team, and Nyyti ry. Despite in the challenging time, we were able to get all the information from research to design phases and enrich our final outcome with your support. We are inspired by the resilience and collaborative spirit in the Aalto community when working with the students. And we hope this project contributes to being an applied reference for the Aalto community and campus strategy in the future. As service designers, we would like to take this memorable experience to make a better community service.



Project Report


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