Working with the Copenhagen library, our brief was to design for the future of the library and to find a way for libraries and users to “get smarter together.” Our group started with a target group of library-using students between the ages of 17 – 22. Our research objective was to understand students’ perceptions of learning, looking at individual learning, collaboration and the acquisition/sharing of knowledge in ways that allow students to come out “feeling smarter.”

We conducted multiple interviews both short and long form in many different locations and some of our key takeaways were that students wanted a more curated experience, they wanted more of an opportunity to “learn by doing,” and that the perception of spaces affects people’s openness in said space.

From this we came up with five key insights:

  • Exposure to different/contrasting skill sets gives young students inspiration
  • ‘Learning by doing’ is generally preferred, as students crave more immersive experiences
  • Library users seek curated experiences – similar to a gallery or a museum
  • Students associate libraries with individual learning rather than peer-to-peer knowledge exchange
  • People’s perception of spaces come from a set of unspoken rules and visual cues

Which we narrowed into three design challenges:

How might we…

…enable students who may benefit from someone’s similar or different skill-sets to engage in dialogue without inhibition of approaching strangers?

…highlight a sense of serendipity at the library to inspire students on their discovery journey, to encourage sharing and delight all users?

…empower users to create curated experiences for each other that encourage knowledge sharing and can be enriching for all parties involved?

After a long round of ideation – we came up with cOPEN: A modular co-working space that is seasonally set up in outdoor spaces and under-utilised municipality spaces by the library for young students and other community members to promote collaboration.

 The space moves around to different locations and utilizes the “temporary event-feeling” to promote collaboration. We learned from our first round of testing that this feeling was part of what made it so successful. As such, the service has two online touch points: a website that shows users information about the current location and upcoming ones and a Facebook page where events can garner attention from young students.

cOPEN has specially designed modular furniture that makes transportation and installation in new spaces simple, solving one of the biggest problems we had during testing.

We wanted to test what aspects of the library people felt were important. Did it need to have books? Coffee? Wi-Fi? After our first test on the Nørrebro Bridge, we decided that setups would differ depending on the space and the student needs, but Wi-Fi, charging stations, tables and chairs are a staple.

We are excited about how the space could evolve over time, especially once it builds a community. We’d like more user involvement in creating the spaces, to perhaps move the concept indoors, corporate partners who could sponsor the space and eventually to expand the concept to greater Denmark.

See our slides: