Investigation on Social Engagement

The IEI Physical Commons 
as a Thinkerspace


Group Project by Nida Abdullah,
Brandy Luce, and Payod Panda


In this investigation, we positioned IEI as a Thinkerspace, similar to the makerspaces in Hunt Library and DH Hill, where individuals are collaboratively creating and building the thinkerspace offers the commons as a space for creating and building together as well—with those in the commons and with IEI.  


The IEI physical commons is restructured as a space for creating and building off of ideas while maintaining the momentum of past forums as well as looking towards the future. The current ideas space is used as a creation space where visitors create new ideas by responding to challenges or build off previously created ideas. The middle space is used for IEI content curation. And the current voices space is as an orientation space  where ideas are stored in a library for future reference.


The Thinkerspace relies on engagement strategies that break down large complex issues such as community transportation into relatable and personable daily activities, such as going to class in the morning. By breaking down these complex, yet important community issues — goals are more achievable and individuals are more motivated to provide firsthand feedback.

Scenario 1- Unprogrammed space

Students go into the space without an objective and can work on the walls or can respond to prompts while working on walls or tables.


Scenario 2- Programmed space

Group of donors/investors that are there for a programmed activity can work together on specific topics using walls or focusing on building off previous ideas on tables.



The goal of this project was design a place for play, exploration and creation where participants can control thought process and evaluate what is worth building on and sharing with others. 


What is the relationship between how content is created and how connections are made?

How  can activity and connections be displayed as a curated feed of ideas generated from prompts?

Exploring juxtaposition of physical and digital and how it can be used to support a democratic place for shaping an “emerging issue”?

In the creation space an orientation wall would prompt visitors with questions related to challenges through phases. Transportation can be explored through digestible topics such as the Light Rail Transit System, or Bus lanes. These topics are investigated through phases in the space — exploration, implementation, and use.

The creation Thinkerspace can now act as a hybrid space where it is blending the physical objects with technology to change the environment to allow the participant to customize, play, explore, and create. The activity of writing on the whiteboard is shown with the lighting in the wall encouraging conversation and collaboration through play. It is also showing the presence of the activity from outside the space encouraging people to come in and participate. Using whiteboards to explore ideas and evaluate which are worth moving forward with and submitting from the wall to the digital space.

This table interface visualization demonstrates how ideas are archived and is also a reference point for picking up and building on previous ideas. As IEI works through phases, ideas are submitted by participants which connect to a gradually forming spherical helix.

Once the users have built and expanded on ideas IEI can curate that content and use the large curation space as feedback for the participants/visitors as to what actions they are pursuing and the ideas that have contributed to those actions.

The library will act as an archive and orientation space for people to see what issues and topics IEI has covered and the direction moving forward. Moving between creating and building and creating again, seeing the potential for ideas collaboratively.

  • Wordpress
  • LinkedIn B&W
  • Vimeo B&W