Wicked Problem Brief for Hackney Wick Council

The project intended to address problems of social divide in Hackney Wick community. Rooted in issues of young families’ hesitance accessing London’s attractions and limited opportunities for creative activities for children in Hackney Wick, it tapped into rich local resources that are artists and Loughborough University London. Stemming from observed strong need for group interaction influencing the choice of leisure activities, the project intended to address needs of Hackney Wick’s young families for convenience, quality experience and strong social element.

Project Overview


What sustainable transport solutions would enable the different communities of Hackney Wick to take full advantage of the employment and leisure opportunities in the neighbourhood, Borough and London and help to bring the community together?


Significant, in-depth user research to outline a problem/need/opportunity of the brief. 

Driven by Design Thinking Methodology.

Diverse team based project.

Success Metrics

Systematic approach to tackle complex projects.

Engaged a variety of stakeholders.

A range of short and long term benefits to benefit the wider community. 


Final Solution

The developed solution is Wick Wick Creative Kids Workshop, involving Loughborough University Masters Students and local artists, and incorporating walked adventure trail as a sustainable transport mode.

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    Target Users

    The once-a-month event is intended to engage children from the Gainsborough Primary School area in the pilot scheme. It is to be led by Loughborough University London Student Enterpriseas a Skills Transfer Initiativeand to engage local artists where desired to support the event theme or led by other constraints. Parents are to supervise the kids while artists and students facilitate activities. The Student Union’s Action initiative is to provide student volunteers to engage in organisation of the workshops. Additionally, the connection enables to obtain free use of Loughborough University as a venue.  

    Activities & Benefits

    The varied workshop themes intend to engage range of children’s interests and provide a rich experience. These are to cover: painting, sculpture, drama, music, crafts, model making, media, design, sport.

    In the short term, the workshop is to serve as a fun, creative and social way of spending time for young families in Hackney Wick. It can also provide a fantastic opportunity for university students willing to engage in volunteering projects.

    In the long term, the solution is envisaged to bring the community of Hackney Wick closer, developing a strong link with the university and artists, enhance children’s mental development and shape their interests, and provide opportunity for cross pollination of ideas. University students can develop leadership, organisational and mentoring skills.


    Fundraising is intended to be facilitated by Loughborough University Student Union Rag initiative (charity connection required) as well as through the Wick Award Partnership Panel – a Big Local project funded through National Lottery. Additionally, funds could be provided from nominal attendancefee charged to parents, and potentially from seasonal arts & crafts sale around Christmas or Easter.

    Open source toolkit could be developed for students as well as others willing to engage in running a workshop as a roadmap to its organisation. This would permit the initiative to be expanded to involve other local schools.


    Working as part of a team of 5 designer-researchers with combined background in Design, Media and Entrepreneurship, the project encompassed:

    • Exploration of Wicked Problems in Hackney Wick.
    • Secondary Research
    • Problem - Opportunity Space Exploration
    • 3-stage Primary Research
    • Insight Visualisation
    • Prototyping and Testing
    • Concept Refinement and Business Model

    Wicked Problems Map

    Wicked problems of Hackney wick were visually mapped based on the supportive information included in the brief and data from the Hackney Wick Ward Profile. Key issues related to:

    • Divide between the three distinct groups within the community (artists, poor and rich) and their different needs and lifestyle.
    • Main transport problems identified concerned affordability, access to transportation and its influence on leisure time choices for local families.
    Wicked Problems of Hackney WIck

    Initial Challenges & Opportunities

    The mapped problems were categorized as ‘Challenges and Opportunities’. These were then narrowed down to one challenge-opportunity scenario of ‘People don’t want to venture outside of Hackney Wick’ vs ‘Promote events for Hackney people; entice them to go out’.

    The focus was further distilled to access of Hackney Wick’s young families from moderately disadvantaged backgrounds to London’s attractions and culture, whose choices may be restricted by income, travel difficulties with children, and past experiences such as the parents’ upbringing.

    Data Collection

    Primary data collection was carried out in 3 stages, permitting corrective measures to be applied to participant scouting methods and interview questions. Total of 15 parent interviews were completed.

    • Stage 1 – 4 participants
    • Stage 2 – 9 participants
    • Stage 3 – 2 participants
    Data Collection  Locations


    Initial data analysis was based on results from Data Collection 1. Findings included:

    • Average family consists of 2 to 3 children.
    • Preferred entertainment activities are sports, shopping, football, and cinema or museum visits.
    • Overall, families were satisfied with quality of time spend together but Central London was an infrequent destination.

    Next, data analysis was performed using affinity diagramming.

    Main insights included:

    • Strong preference for familyactivities which are relatively local and for for outdoor activity, if weather is favourable.
    • Creative and dynamic play activities are important.
    • Strong preference for group activity as social interaction element.
    • London is a destination chosen on special occasions and relatively infrequently.
    Affinity Diagram

    Empathy Mapping and Personas

    Acase study of a father talking of struggles taking his child to a hospital was analysed as part of empathy exercise. The story highlighted how public transport can fail parents in sudden but very dangerous situations. The findings were then applied to develop adn refine user persona. 

    • Empathy
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    • Marie Persona

      Problem Reframe

      Connecting Families and Artists in Hackney Wick. 

      Bringing families and artists together to create engaging ways of spending quality time locally and connecting the two communities. 


      • Families like to spend time locally
      • Prefer outdoors, sports, drama and creative activities. 
      • Gainsborough Childrens Centre is only available to young kids. 
      • Families like when children spend time in groups.
      • Artists have a diverse background and skills. 
      • Artists may enjoy sharing what they do with the local community. 
      • Spending time locally can enrich the community. 

      Concept Development

      Concept development followed a three-stage process of idea generation, idea selection and idea development.

      • Initial ideas were mapped using Amuse Me / Surprise Me / Excite Me / Satisfy Me tool. 
      • Constraints of feasibility, community impact and finance were applied to progress the idea selection. 
      • The selected idea was developed further by generating a more detailed user scenario with key touch points. User testing involved artists, parents adn university stakeholders. Key refinement areas included finance, location and leadership.
      • User Scenario Plan
      • User Scenario Plan 2


        The project’s value propositions address problems of social divide in Hackney Wick community, issues of young families’ hesitance accessing London’s attractions and limited opportunities for creative activities for children in Hackney Wick. By tapping into rich local resources that are artists and Loughborough University London, the workshop is to respond to a observed strong need for group interaction influencing the choice of leisure activities, and intends to address needs of Hackney Wick’s young families for convenience, quality experience and strong social element.

        Key benefits include:

        • Bringing the community closer
        • Enhancing children’s mental development
        • Shaping children’s interests
        • Cross pollination of ideas
        • Students gain leadership, organizational and mentoring skills
        Business Model Canvas

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