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Jun 27. 2022

Greenhouse training: How we’re helping Valletta Design Cluster engage new communities

Ollie Sutcliffe, Design Innovation Specialist at PDR, was part of the PDR team responsible for recently delivering a design training and support package for our long-standing partners, Valletta Cultural Agency (VCA).

The Agency are behind the Valletta Design Cluster - a creative innovation space within Valletta's old city, launched in March 2021 and delivered in part with our team at PDR.

We’re helping the VCA to continually adapt and improve the Cluster’s outreach capacity within local communities - but how? We sat down with Ollie to find out…

“After the successful launch of the Cluster space, the team in Valletta reached out to us to deliver ‘greenhouse’ training for service design and design thinking skills, as that’s one area they felt they could improve upon in their public sector and creative communities.” Ollie explains.

Specifically, the Valletta Cultural Agency wanted to learn how they could help the elderly and other local stakeholders to engage with the creative space as well as explore ways in which the space might better serve them.

“It was important that the space was accessible and enjoyable for everyone in the local community” Ollie explains. “When you picture creative start-ups, you tend to visualise just one type of person - typically young, tech-literate, digitally-savvy people. But it was really important for the VCA to engage everybody, to reflect the entire community of the city.”

To address the Agency’s needs, we designed a training package and delivered it over 3 days. “We worked with a group of stakeholders including public servants, employees of the space and those who use it - and took them through an intensive, sprint-style user centred design process.

“On day one we conducted research made up of interviews with the local community, the next day we conducted the analysis and came up with ideas – we call this stage ideation, and on the third day we developed a lo-fi prototype of the final idea and explored a bit more in depth how each service concept would work” Ollie explains.

During the process, one of the really interesting ideas that arose was about how the elderly can input into the ideas generated by young start-ups through a ‘mentorship’ or ‘pairing programme’. “This means they can transfer skills and knowledge so these things aren’t lost – it’s surprising how many innovative solutions to problems you can develop through applying more traditional perspectives with new tools and approaches” Ollie continues.

As a further result of the greenhouse session participants have been pro-active in forming service design networks in Malta and we look forward to working with them in the future!

Next steps

Read about a previous greenhouse training project we delivered or read more news.