Livable Cities Study: June – Aug 2012, Helsinki, Oslo & Copenhagen

Yanki was funded by the Hong Kong Design Institutive (HKDI) to conduct a study of livability through design. Recently, there are many indices developed by different institutions to measure the performance of countries and cities. The purpose of the study is not merely to examine people’s responses to on-going city indices development but to use existing indices as a tool to stimulate discussion amongst people in cities about the quality of development in their cities and what ‘livability’ means to them.

Yanki’s approach was to engage individual citizens in 3 of the most livable cities in the world. All interviewees have a design background and have worked either in a research or academic institution. The other common character of the interviewees is that they are all foreigners to the local culture, having migrated to their new cities due to marriage with local people:

  1. Colombian media researcher living in Helsinki
  2. British social design researcher living in Oslo
  3. Japanese architectural designer/researcher living in Copenhagen

A few topics were raised throughout the interviews, e.g. the concept of city/urban development, the relationship between nature and humans, the inclusivity of other cultures and the tactics of integration. Compared to city indices, which are focused on a city’s performance, engagements with creative foreigners could provide a people-centred way to review the liveability of cities. Rather than just measuring performance, innovative design ideas to improve cities were co-developed during engagement between the interviewer and the interviewees.