Co-designing Future
Youth Centers 

Commune Di Milano

Service Design, Community Design

How might we foster a sense of agency amongst the youth, enabling them to drive positive change in the neighborhood narrative & influence perceptions, both within the community & beyond?


1. Project Summary

Brief By Dario Vezzoni, Comune Di Milano

The primary goal was to understand unique needs & aspirations of the youth & CAG as a whole, then develop tailored solutions based on identified opportunities rooted in a future scenario.

We had the opportunity to collaborate with five youth centres in Milan, known as "Centri di Aggregazione Giovanile" (CAG). Each team was assigned one of the five municipality managed CAG’s, wherein ours was the CAG of Ponte Lambro.

The CAG of Ponte Lambro has these key challenges,

  • A history of drugs and violence led to negative perceptions, abandoned projects, & a cycle of negative influence on the younger generation.
  • These factors culminated in a sense of resignation within the community.
  • Ponte Lambro's suburban location creates a disconnect from the rest of the city.

Our service concept,

"Archivio Di Ponte," integrates an interactive museum within the youth center of Ponte Lambro.

  • Carefully curated spaces and services are initiated & managed by the youth of Ponte Lambro, with youth workers (pedagogists) & organizers in a more supportive role.

  • These youth driven services include a wide range of workshops, events while collecting + curating for the museum. The centre also provides the necessary tools and skills for the youth to successfully implement these services.

2. How does our solution tackle these challenges?

Carrying forth newer, better experiences & stories. All this, with the youth at the very crux. 

Through fostering pride, responsibility & momentum.

  • Tackling the feeling of resignation through youth-driven community initiatives like multi-generational/cultural workshops & setting up monthly festivals, events & theater.

  • Breaking the vicious cycle by engaging youth in learning activities & initiatives they choose and really enjoy.

  • Diminishing negative stereotypes by creating momentum of people through museum visitations, cross-CAG/third party collaborations. 

3. Secondary & Primary Research

Tools: Case Study Research & Analysis, Secondary Research Analysis, Field Research & Analysis, Observational Methods, Photography, Cultural Probes like Maps etc Semi-structured Interviews, Figma, Adobe Suite

4. Concept Generation

Tools: Design Sprint, Brainstorming, Clustering, Future Forecast & Analysis, Miro, Figma 

During this design sprint, we engaged in an intense, yet structured brainstorming session. The following days were further spent on developing & iterating  the final concept.

Design Sprint Workshop ︎︎︎

Design Sprint: Structure & Result 

1. Empathize with the User
Identify pains, gains, & needs from key insights

2. Reflect on the Future
What will be the context of CAG users in the future? How could this context negatively or positively evolve in the future?

3. New Pains, Gains & Needs
How could this context negatively or positively evolve in the future
4. Reflect on Drivers
Address main challenges with respect to core values derived from the insights

5. Address Pain Points
Find solutions aligned with values & challenges

6. Idea Generation
Generate, prioritize, and cluster top five ideas. Formulate the concept & service, Iterate & Refine

5. Co-Designing

Interactive Tools: Structured Co-Design Workshop Plan, Boundary Objects, Storyboards, User Journies, System Maps, Questionnaire Forms, Maps, Moodboards

We now had the first draft of our service, the next step involved careful planning & structuring of a co-design workshop to further validate, refine or iterate the idea. The main aim was to involve users & stakeholders* as “experts of their experience”, thus playing a key role in the design process.

Co-Design Session


In our case, users were children, teenagers & adolescents (CAG users) and other stakeholders were educators, co-ordinators, organisational staff & the municipality. In our co-design session we were able to involve CAG users, educators & co-ordinators. Although participants, our pictures don’t show any CAG users (as all of them were under 18) , only consented adults. 

6. The Service

Tools: User Journey Maps, Mindsets & Personas, Stakeholder, Ecosystem Maps, Offering Map, Branding, Communication & Advertisement Design

We cannot design human relationships, but we can build conditions to make them flourish. 

At this stage, everything comes together! The offering map comprises of key activities that form the foundation of the youth center and act as an anchor within the neighbourhood.

  •  The Youth Center’s projects, activities and interventions carried on by the youth will then become part of the museum’s exhibitions.

  • Promotional activities, interactive infrastructure & social events attract not just the vicinity, but also act as a bridge for the outside world. 

Details of the service: Key Activities & Functions of the Youth Center   

Different Users, Different Journies

Potential Impact 

Community Design via services and spaces

  • Leadership & Empowerment
  • Cultural Connectivity & Inclusivity
  • Active Participation
  • Skill Enhancement & Employability
  • Encouraging Lifelong Learning
  • Social Cohesion
  • Enhanced Mental Well-Being
  • Uplifting Local economy & Culture