81913 - Design for Sustainability

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Moduli: Vincenzo Di Maria (Modulo 1) Beatrice Turillazzi (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Advanced Design (cod. 9256)

Learning outcomes

The module aims to develop specific skills in the design of systems, solutions and technologies for the sustainable, smart and resilient city, aimed at learning methods of analysis and quantitative modeling of reality. At the end of the module the student knows: to recognize and analyze the problem of sustainable development and the role that the designer can play; to increase the ability to reason in terms of product-service system (intended as a mix of product, communication and service) and to design in terms of strategy (drawing up innovative visions, scenarios and concepts); to verify the project impact in terms of sustainability and to develop more sustainable alternative solutions.

Course contents

The course aims to provide students with the ability to think in terms of product-service system, to deal with complex systems and to design in strategic terms, going beyond the purely objectual dimension of design towards innovative scenarios and concepts.

The course deals with the design of product-service systems for the urban environment with a special focus on of environmental and social sustainability.

The design activity, as well as ex-cathedra lectures, will focus on the role of designers in the foreshadowing of innovative scenarios of product-service systems at the urban scale, that need to be sustainable, user-centred, designed with the participation of users and stakeholders and capable to trigger virtuous processes of social innovation.

The course is developed following three main stages:

1. meta-design phase,

2. concept phase and

3. design development.

During the meta-design phase (1), students, organized in groups, lead research on the topic assigned to the project, collecting information and documentation with different methods of investigation.

The concept phase (2), requires students to envisage innovative product-service system scenarios starting from the project brief and on the basis of the research.

During the development phase (3) students translate the scenario into a detailed project and a storyboard of use of the product-service designed.


Buxton, B. (2007), Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design, Focal Press.

Clark, T. et al. (2012), Business Model You: A One-Page Method for Reinventing Your Career, John Wiley & son Inc., New Jersey.

Clarck, T. and Hazen, B. (2017), Business Models for Teams: See How Your Organization Really Works and How Each Person Fits in, Penguin Publishing Group.

Cross, N. (2006), Designerly Ways of Knowing, Springer Verlag

De Bono, E. (1967), Lateral Thinking: A Textbook of Creativity, Penguin Life

Dreyfuss, H. (1955), Designing for People, Allworth Press

Eco, U. (1992), Interpretazione e sovrainterpretazione. Un dibattito con Richard Rorty, Jonathan Culler e Christine Brooke-Rose, a cura di Collini, S., Bompiani

Gray, D. et al., (2010), Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers, O'Reilly Media

Hill, C. and Houde, S. (1997), What do prototypes prototype, Handbook of HumanComputer Interaction.

IDEO.org (2015), The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design

Knapp, J. et al. (2016), Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, Simon & Schuster

Manzini, E. e Jégou, F. (2003). Quotidiano sostenibile. Scenari di vita urbana. Milano: Edizioni Ambiente.

Manzini, E. e Staszowski (2013) Public and Collaborative. Exploring the intersection of design, social innovation and public policy, DESIS Network.

Manzini, E. (2015), Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation, MIT.

Markova, D. and McArthur, A. (2015), Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking with People Who Think Differently, Spiegel & Grau

Meroni, A. e Sangiorgi, D. (2011), Design for Services, Londra: Grower.

Michalko, M. (2006), Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-thinking Techniques, Ten Speed Pr.

Munari, B. (1992), Fantasia. Invenzione, creatività e immaginazione nelle comunicazioni visive. Edizioni Laterza.

Norman, D. (1986), The design of everyday things, Basic Books

Osborn, A.F. (1953), Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem-Solving, Creative Education Foundation

Osterwalder, A. and Pigneur, Y. (2010), Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, John Wiley & son Inc., New Jersey.

Osterwalder, A. et al. (2014), Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want, John Wiley & son Inc., New Jersey.

Papanek, V. (1985), Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change, Chicago Review Press

Papanek, V. (1995), The Green Imperative: Natural Design for the Real World, Thames & Hudson

Rodari, G. (1973), Grammatica della fantasia. Introduzione all'arte di inventare storie. Einaudi editore

Shostacklater, G.L. (1984), Designing Services That Deliver, Harvard Business Review.

Tassi, R. (2019), #Service designer. Il progettista alle prese con sistemi complessi, Franco Angeli editore

Vezzoli, C. e Manzini, E. (2007), Design per la sostenibilità ambientale, Bologna: Zanichelli.

Whyte, W. (1980), The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, Project for Public Spaces Inc.


















Teaching methods

The course usually requires the presence of the students in the classroom for the development of the project, although it assures remote attendance by students opting for this method.

The course is structured with a combination of ex-cathedra lessons and collective workshop activities, aimed at enhancing both the expertise learned and the design skills of the students.

The course is structured as a mix of ex-cathedra lectures and studio activities, aimed to consolidate notions and design skills. Each teaching module delivers both reviews of the teaching staff to the groups, to check the progress of the project, and shared revisions, aimed to share the results obtained.

The course requires compulsory attendance, testified at each lesson by signature. Only students with an attendance rate of at least 70% of the course hours can access the exam.

Assessment methods

The exam consists in the presentation and discussion of the work carried out by the design teams, in presence or remotely

The course also schedules intermediate reviews on the progress of the project, both for each group and collectively, including any cultural and pathway interchanges.

The final evaluation of each student will take into account the results obtained in each teaching module, the quality of the project, proactivity and participation in the course.

The final proposal, expressed in thirtieths, will be evaluated according to the following criteria which will be associated with a maximum of 6 points each:

1 - Graphic and design quality of the works

2 - Quality of the service concept

3 - Effectiveness and feasibility of the proposed solutions

4 - Consistency with the theoretical aspects outlined in the course units

5 - Communication of the project results.

Teaching tools

The course usually requires the presence of students in the classroom for the development of the project, although it also ensures the remote attendance of students opting for this mode.

All phases are supervised and supported by the presence of the teachers, tutors and teaching staff.

The Library of the Department of Architecture is a useful support for specific documentation and in-depth studies. The equipment supplied to the Department of Architecture and the technological support to the academic activity provided by the University (screens and whiteboards, video projectors, technologies for remote connection, computer supports, etc.) are used.

Office hours

See the website of Beatrice Turillazzi

See the website of Vincenzo Di Maria


Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production Climate Action

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.