«Bizi Igorre», participatory inclusive design with elderly

2019 - Merit Award

Bilbao, Spain

Maraka Service Design Studio & Lab:

Eider Aldape Martin

Irune Jiménez González

Garazi Camino Herrero
Bilbao, Spain
Professional Group


Maraka is a Service Design Studio and Lab based in Bilbao. Our expertise lies in the fields of Design Research and Service Design. We design solutions to the new challenges faced by public institutions and companies. And we do it with a user-centered approach. Maraka helps companies innovate their products and services in a transformative and sustainable way.



《"Bizi Igorre", participatory inclusive design with elderly》
Category | Public service design and design thinking in public policy 
Group | Professional


In a world in which the population is increasingly aged, it is necessary to work on public services and policies from the perspective and with the participation of the elderly. The project, Bizi Igorre, is part of the Age-friendly Cities program that the World Health Organization (WHO) launched in 2005. It is an inclusive and participatory design project where the main protagonists are people over 60 years.



The project consists in the creation of a «leading team» of elderly people who are responsible for accompanying the City Council in the development of services and public policies friendly to the elderly and in conclusion to all the people of the municipality.



The project began in 2016. Igorre, a town close to the city of Bilbao, with 4,300 inhabitants, wanted its neighbours over 60 years to be an active part in policy making in the municipality. To this end, the Association of Retirees, together with the City Council, hired Maraka. Maraka has designed, produced and implemented the participatory process from the perspective of participatory inclusive design.



This approach has led to the involvement of groups that are not accustomed to participating in this type of processes and has put in value their ability to give their opinion and imagine more friendly futures for them and their surrounding environment. Inclusivity is integrated both in the design of the process and in the ways of thinking and doing that the participants acquire.



The process has generated several results: - A diagnosis with more than 200 proposals to improve the municipality in relation to 8 topics (public spaces and buildings, social and health services, housing, transportation, citizen participation, employment and volunteering and information and communication). - An action plan with more than 80 actions, divided into three areas: Igorre municipality for all people, Igorre municipality for life and Igorre healthy municipality. - A Government consulting council: a team of 12 people over 60, empowered, autonomous and who have developed design skills, prepared to lead the Bizi project and continue to appeal to the local government for its transformation into an age-friendly municipality.



Design thinking has been key in the development of the project. In this case, the role of the designers has been to create the bases and facilitate that the elderly internalize design skills and empower themselves to be able to lead the project on their own. Ad hoc tools based on design thinking have been created during the project and creative techniques have been used to identify needs and create ideas. These include the creation of Cultural Probes that consisted in having the elderly, organized in small groups, make exploratory dives in the municipality to assess the friendliness of services and public spaces.


This practice has had an excellent reception and continues to be repeated annually. In short, design has served as a strategic tool from which to design a participatory system and also train a group of citizens who are still surrounded by stereotypes and often away from the strategic decisions of governments.

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