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Sunshine PopUp Park - co-created experimental indoor park as an open innovation space

Sunshine PopUp Park was created based on an idea by high school girls as a cocreative space to bring joys of nature into a local old mall

Photo of Minna Takala
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Sunshine PopUp Park was an experimental in-door park at a local mall at city of  Hämeenlinna, Finland. Idea of the Sunshine PopUp Park was first introduced in an idea competition by a group of students at the local high school - Hämeenlinnan Lyseon Lukio.  The themes of the competition were related to sustainability and participatory city development.  These themes were introduced by the city architect and  sustainability students at the local university of applied sciences. 

The idea was selected to be implemented by voluntary-basis in collaboration with regional development experts from Regional Council of Häme. The original idea/aim of the experiment was to bring light and life into the city centre with a help of a PopUp Park in a local mall. PopUp Park project was experimental by its nature created by open innovation principles emphasizing open participation and co-creation. Thus, there were no clear plans what will be done, when the experiment started. The idea was to collect visitors' ideas and feedback from the local community and get the citizens, schools and other educational institutions and local companies involved. There were not much monetary resources involved. Materials and furniture were borrowed and donated, also recycled materials were used extensively. The experiment resulted into over 11 000 visits in the park, ca. 30 workshops and events, ca. 100 volunteers and trainees and ca. 250 ideas and recommendations. Over 100 of the ideas were already implemented by the volunteers during the experiment. About 30 companies were involved in various activities. Also the Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb visited the park in January 2016. Around 10 newspaper articles were written about PopUp Park and there were ca. 5 appearances in the local media, radio and TV included.  Social media was used for of internal communication with volunteers as well as all interested people. 

The idea was created in the beginning of November 2014 and the team of four received second price in the oidea competition on Dec 18th. The opening of the park was on Jan 16th 2015 and by the April 2015, over 11 000 visits had been made to the park.  In April 2015 the story was shared at the national conference on ICT and education - ITK 2015. 

In August 2015 the Sunshine PopUp Park was invited to participate the biggest garden exhibition in Finland at Lepaa

One of the companies involved is still operating at the local mall. During December 2015 there were several popup shops at the mall, and there are plans for the various popup activities for the summer 2016 with the local youth.

Our open and participatory approach worked very well and we were really happy with the results and quite overwhelmed by the positive feedback by visitors and by the participation of the volunteers.  The story continues.

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Minna Takala

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A Pecha Kucha presentation from ITK conference at Aulanko, Hämeenlinna, April 2015 sharing the story. In Finnish

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Photo of Shane Zhao

Thanks for the inspiration Minna! This reminds me of the Miles startup project that was launched during OpenIDEO's Vibrant Cities challenge. Similar to the Sunshine PopUp Park, Miles is a participatory program that hosts co-creation spaces in underused NYC storefronts. It has since expanded to offer design thinking workshops for local social entrepreneurs. This is a great way to think of open innovation as something that should also exist to bring local communities together in person:)