In 2017 Finland was dotted with cultural events and projects to celebrate the country’s 1oo years of independence. Espoo’s participatory project to add public seating around the city was one of them. The tagline “100 Benches, 100 Places, 100 Stories” frames the project’s special centennial edge: Residents were engaged to decide where the benches would be installed and add stories to each of them.
The project’s first interactive map activity was to identify the best locations for the benches. Maptionnaire was used to design a survey that allowed people to suggest locations that clearly lack outdoor seating. The survey received about 650 responses, many of which called for getting new benches by the seaside, in parks, and near services for the elderly. From among altogether 350 different places residents pinned on the map, 100 were chosen as bench locations.
Deciding where to put the benches was just the first part of the project. While waiting for the benches to be physically installed, a new Maptionnaire survey was opened to allow residents to share their stories connected with each bench location. The stories were placed on a Maptionnaire-powered digital bulletin board and the benches were equipped with individual QR codes to let people who rest on the benches read contributions from their fellow citizens. People can also keep adding new stories by scanning the code on the bench.
100 stories (x 10)
More than 1,100 stories have been recorded “into” the benches now. Some are funny, some lovely, and many describe how much the residents love nature and wildlife. The stories also express the diversity of languages spoken in Espoo.
Espoo’s “100 Benches” project was designed and carried out collaboratively with the Maptionnaire team. The City of Espoo valued being able to make use of our expertise and execute the entire project within the scope of one tool.