Osborn Hub

A website connected to an outdoor community "wall". Residents can write or draw a post on the website which will be displayed on the outdoor wall for the community to see. Osborn is a residential neighborhood in Detroit, and this project centers around an area that includes a number of public service organizations.


This project started out as a collaboration with urban planners and engineers to create a bus notification system but changed course when stakeholders showed no interest in that and instead emphasized community-building and activating their neighborhood. Stakeholders are interested in creating a neighborhood “hub” around a 1-2 mile block surrounding the Matrix Human Services Center, Detroit Public Library Franklin Branch, Detroit water department, and two nearby elementary schools. There has been a good amount of revitalization around the area, including vacant building demolition by the city and a project led by Matrix and neighborhood residents to clean up the area and board up empty homes. My project's purpose was to provide a digital technology that would work toward this goal.

Solution Overview

To discover a useful direction for this project, I researched the Osborn community online and in-person and interviewed and passed out cultural probes to community members and local organizations. I learned that many residents see people as the neighborhoods greatest asset, and they have a desire to share and create.

I sketched 40 thumbnails of different possible solutions, considered possible negative uses, and created and tested multiple iterations of paper and digital prototypes (here is the final version!). The website, called the Osborn Hub + Wall, provides a space for community members to write and/or draw messages to each other that will be displayed on a large digital "wall" outside near the Matrix Human Services Center and library. The website provides community resources and events as well as the opportunity to get more involved in the Hub project by moderating the board, suggesting topics, or volunteering to post events and messages for local organizations.

What I Learned

  • Participatory design methods
  • How to effectively "start over" when the original intention of a project was not what the community needed
  • How to consider multiple uses when designing the sociotechnical elements of a website.
  • Prototyping on paper and in Axure
  • Creating thumbnails and storyboards

Some of my initial ideation sketches.

One of the cultural probes before they were handed out to community members.

Some storyboards created to understand varying usage.

Interactive paper prototype. Video of interaction available upon request.

Main page of my interactive Axure prototype. Full Axure prototype can be found at http://vc0gg9.axshare.com/#c=2