Image: RPBW, render by Cristiano Zaccaria
Private client
Bologna, Italy
2018 – 2021
The principles and practice of co-design in children palliative care
For a new paediatric hospice about to open in Bologna, we have been asked to design the Digital User Experience by engaging with the numerous stakeholders involved in the project, ranging from architects to therapists and the technical staff.

For more than 4 years we have been working together with renowned organisations such as the Helix Center of the Imperial College of London and Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW). We released a series of manuals with design guidelines that focus on the needs of patients, families and the healthcare personnel. And above all, we shared our methodology capable of bringing together people from different backgrounds and perspectives around the delicate issue of paediatric palliative care.

Research and case studies
The research focused on three aspects:
  • creating the documentation in order to share our design methodologies on Human-centred and User Experience design to people coming from other fields and background;

  • sharing the state of the art in the world of hospices, with a particular focus on the situation in the Anglo-Saxon world, thanks to the support by Imperial College London and the Helix Centre;

  • identifying case studies and best practices ranging from projects, products and hardware solutions in relation to the project scope.

Interviews, need finding and analysis
In addition to the desk research, field research was decisive. The identification of an advisory board of professionals, doctors, associations and social organisation that were invited to actively participate in the whole process providing insights and project ideas. Yet, several interview sessions were conducted involving families and patients, both Italian and foreign. This mass of information was analysed in order to identify patterns useful for design purposes (need finding) and was applied both to process/service and architectural needs, working closely with the RPBW team.

Sharing knowledge, vocabulary and approaches is always key. The co-design tables brought together very different professions: doctors, caregivers, family representatives, experts from associations and institutions, engineers, designers and architects… all sitting around the same table working together putting the needs of patients and families at the core of the discussion.

Iterative process

The complexity of the project was managed through an iterative process. The reports and analyses were constantly updated and integrated as new knowledge was acquired or new decisions taken during the co-design sessions. Not having decisions set in a top-down mode provides the flexibility to tailor to perfect solutions both in the space and in the infrastructure of the hospice.

Results: living lab design guidelines

The process resulted in the definition of design and development guidelines in various areas including very technical ones, such as the indication of technological supports in the various spaces of the hospice, from the in-patient rooms to the reception area. The main concept that emerged was the idea of having Living Labs: laboratories within the hospice that can function both as specialised spaces for supporting care (ie. artistic, motor, recreational and service activities) and as places for research and experimentation. The Living Lab stems out key principles such as relationships, self-expression, flows, holistic approach, personalisation and transdisciplinarity.

  • Co-design
  • Digital Strategy
  • Service Design
Architecture by RPBW
Research analisys and UX by Dotdotdot in collaboration with Helix Center (Imperial College London)
Laura Dellamotta
Alessandro Masserdotti
Fabrizio Pignoloni
Mirko Balducci
Ernesto Voltaggio
Mariasilvia Poltronieri
Nicola Buccioli
Federica Bardelli
Martina Merigo
Vittorio Cuculo
Project partners
Imperial College London, Helix Centre, Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW)