Workshop, 4th March 2017: Using design thinking for problem solving in emerging business areas

Using design thinking for problem solving in emerging business areas

Workshop, 4th March 2017

Urban INC, Splaiul Unirii 160 – Industria Bumbacului



Post-communist Bucharest offered several former industrial platforms that served as basis for redevelopment for retail, office and production spaces, but remained largely disenfranchised from public transportation hubs, or amenities meant to encourage quality social interaction or imagination for quality of public space and urban design. Bucharest municipality has low capacity in responding to these structural changes and until now has encouraged a car-based culture. Bucharest residents, as well as companies located in emerging CBDs, are realizing the growing need for a solution.

 Pipera 005

Focus on: Pipera South and Dimitrie Pompeiu districts

Pipera South and Dimitrie Pompeiu are two of the largest office areas in Bucharest, where altogether some 88,000 people commute daily. Overall, in 2016, Bucharest’s office areas were accommodating more than 200,000 people, with a dramatic increase in demand for space: an all time record of 364,000 sq m, a 46% growth compared to 2015. In spite of accelerated private investment in these areas, aiming to match the demand for office space, public investment in infrastructure and utilities has been slow to pick up. An estimated timeframe for the planned major infrastructure investments (subway extension, rehabilitation of tram tracks, development of bicycle lanes) has a medium or long term outlook, ranging from 2023 to 2030. As a result, companies and employees face the challenges stemming from the gap between public and private investment and lack of an overall plan: reduced accessibility and mobility, increased travel time to/from work which in turn affects productivity, low quality routes for pedestrians, reduced public transport alternatives, limited parking space.  

Design thinking Pipera

What can design thinking do for emerging business areas?

One thing should be made clear from the very start: complex city problems cannot generally be solved without strong initiatives, long-term vision and collective action. There can hardly be easy answers where there are systemic problems and a track record of them not having been on the priority list. However, there are ways of implementing incremental changes. Design thinking has become popular in complex problem solving because it addresses development by identifying problems, then working through solutions to those problems. This implies risk reduction, a better understanding of fundamental needs, low-risk prototyping rather than doing high-risk pilots, designing complete innovation processes and making both problems and solutions tangible.


Workshop hosted by Kaleidoscope Nordic and Urban INC

On the 4th of March we are hosting a workshop using design thinking to unfold the challenges and potential solutions for the Pipera Sud and Barbu Văcărescu-Floreasca areas in Bucharest, together with our guests – the Norwegian urban design and architecture office Kaleidoscope Nordic. Our purpose is twofold: we aim to experiment with design thinking methods to unpack complex problems and to test how we can use our collective minds and skills to come up with solutions to the concrete problems of the area. Rather than focusing on large infrastructure problems, we aim to identify incremental changes which can make a meaningful impact, with a focus on social infrastructure (meeting places, social arenas, pedestrian areas).


11:00 – 12:30 Introduction, presentations. Showcasing design clinics featured by Kaleidoscope Nordic

12:30 – 13:30   Lunch.

13:30 – 15:00   Design thinking in action: Defining the challenge and user insights

15:00 – 15:20   Coffee and tea

15:20 – 17:30   Design thinking in action: Framing local problems and solution ideation

17:30 – 18:00   Conclusions, aha moments and next steps



The workshop is to take place at Urban INC / La Firul Ierbii space on Splaiul Unirii 160 (intersection with Bvd Abatorului), the former Cotton Industry Factory.



Urban INC is a platform space for experiments, learning and scaling of new solutions for cities. We work towards formulating meaningful insights on urban dynamics in Romania and we bring together stakeholders and citizens to experiment, learn and scale new solutions.


Kaleidoscope Nordic creates architecture with a local presence and a Nordic resonance, while also being a member of Uusi Kaupunki collective, specialising in participatory urban planning processes.


This workshop is part of the project Urban Insights – Building partnership for user-centred design funded by the NGO Fund in Romania, EEA Grants 2009-2014, through the Bilateral Relations Fund. The content of this material does not represent the oficial position of EEA Grants 2009 – 2014. For more information please visit



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