Improving the rental process of Zurich’s community centres with Design Thinking
Public Services & NGOs
Insights & Concepts
Applied Methods

→ Qualitative user interviews
→ Service testing
→ User journeys
→ Creative brainstorming

Digital tools

3 days interviews, 1 day workshop and analysis

The Social Services team of the City of Zürich wanted to refine and improve the existing renting-service from a customer’s perspective, learning about and applying Human-Centred Design and Design Thinking methods in parallel.
Qualitative research

Qualitative research

In collaboration with the City of Zurich we defined the scope of the research, the research formats and questions. The detailed preparation allowed us to maximise results out of a relatively small sample of interviews and a quick service testing. We learned about the needs and pain points of different tenant types like short- or longterm tenants and gathered input from the local staff to better understand their processes and activities.


Based on an impact-effort-analysis we curated the most promising opportunity spaces (e.g. refining the contract, cleaning services, information on website, etc.) and brought them to an ideation workshop with the responsible team of the City of Zurich.

Ideation & next steps

By using different creative techniques we were able to generate new ideas around the City’s renting service. By running a brainstorming session with the City’s team, we were then able to turn insights into actionable next steps. The City’s team is now able to prototype, pilot and ultimately put into practice improvements and solutions developed in the workshop. 

“By synthesising the learnings in a detailed customer journey we were able to capture and visualise the full complexity of the process and highlight opportunity spaces for improvements.”

– Linda Armbruster, Project Lead


Through a small, curated user research we were able to detect a variety of opportunity spaces within the current customer journey of renting spaces. By running a brainstorming session with the city’s team, we were then able to turn these insights into actionable next steps and improvements that are now being implemented and bringing value to the city and its inhabitants.

Project Lead
Linda Armbruster
Director Collaborative Innovation
Linda holds an M.A. in Strategic Design from the design akademie berlin. As a trained Design Thinker from the Potsdam and Stanford, co-founder of Spark Works and lecturer at the ETHZ, she builds and leads research and training programs in the private and public sector, blending methods grounded in Human-Centred Design to inform and inspire insight-driven innovation.
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