Space Bonding

Designing smarter cities by evidence

Space Bonding is a social venture for collaborative urban planning that unfolds future prospects for all citizens through better decision-making processes.


society is changing. and thus should change our understanding of urban politics and it's influence. space bonding optimises communication between different stakeholders in urban planning scenarios, develops participative and decision-making processes and determines data through apps to give those stakeholders a better understanding of the socioeconomic impacts on their environment. Back in 2009, we blew up any hitherto known procedure.

→ 2009

Founding the venture In 2009 Manuel Steinbrenner and Steffen Becker, both architects set out with Vito Bica on an ambitious social venture: to put citizens — nowadays users — and their belongings at the heart and beginning of any urban development process. A human-centric and evidence-based approach that enables stakeholders to take the right decisions. It's way more than an agile method, it's about doing the right things. Manuel and Vito became best friends, a bonding that lasts until today.

BACKGROUND In the beginning of Space Bonding we build analogue tools, that were implemented and exhibited in public events driven by intense human-to-human dialogs. That said we were able to identify citizens’ needs, as well as to define social behavioural patterns that could be scaled to digital tools and services.

→ 2010

Digital empowerment Back then everybody felt that society was about to change. and thus would change our understanding of urban politics and it's influence. what was missing were adequate tools, processes and services so that decision makers can respond to the rapidly changing trends and opinions within our communities. eParticipation facilitates Big Data — both in quantity and quality.

We took a first leap by building and exhibiting a digital app for an urban conversion project in Heidelberg, Germany within a public event.

→ 2011

The rise of the open platform By degrees we gained more and more data and insights, ready to set out and fuel a platform concept that funnels citizens’ belongings from idea generation to evaluation to implementation. Citizens were enabled to post ideas, problems and needs on one centralised platform, browse for seeded or running projects and boost potentials within the urban fabric.

On the other hand, we wanted to equip administrations and stakeholders with analytical tools: e.g. architects and planners can use data to enhance their designs and investors and local authorities can discover or track potentials in specific environments.

→ 2012

Getting more specific data and insights The next big step within our adventure was to deepen our understanding of how humans bond with communities and how they move and behave within space. So we started to build smaller and more targeted tools and services based on very specific requirements we extracted from research with decision-makers and citizens in advance.

1. UP ToolKit Diply
Modernisation of a shopping promenade

To detect emotional impacts of environmental perceptions the best method is to use semantic differentials in order to obtain a good notion how a specific environment is emotionally charged.

We illustrated 4 different scenarios of desirable futures, each with alternative characteristics, vision and look. Through a playful use of Google Street View and overlaying semantic scales, the stakeholders judged the potential trade-offs. The results were moulded into recommendations for action and handed out to the city administration.

2. UP ToolKit CP
Rethinking Connaught Place, Delhi

Together with students of the School of Planning and Architecture Delhi, Space Bonding planned and executed a survey with an app running on five touchpads from October 1st to November 4th, 2012 at CP. The participants were empowered to decide which action should be carried out. At the CP map, users could transform Connaught Place from their point of view to a future orientated urban square.

Research by (Sub-city development plan of Delhi for NDMC area, New Delhi Masterplan 2021, etc.) and in cooperation with city planners.

Now in 2017, the administration of New Delhi finally kicked off a plan for a three-month-long "pedestrianisation" of the area. → Read the article on / India.

→ 2017

space bonding is our systemic design dna

7 years after our initial meeting with Manuel and Steffen, Space Bonding became much more than a venture. It's a reason for living in a growing complex world. Space Bonding still develops apps and conducts decision-aiding processes.

Our newest project → DECYS MCDA Toolkit helps administrations to take better decisions within school building projects.

The Space Bonding dna became furthermore a critical part of VITO BICA's → Design thinking process