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Work performance platform



Service design, UX design, UI design, User research


Kenjiro Taniguchi, Yi-tzu Chang


Royal College of Art,

Aalto University Campus & Real Estate


3 months


The project

The mental wellbeing of students is a serious issue for Aalto University. More than twice as many students as the national average are at high risk of study-related burnout, which also affects their academic performance. The university has made health and wellbeing a central part of its campus development strategy and is taking steps to address this. But given the complexity of the issue, improvements at the university level alone have its limitations. This project aims to co-design a service, together with the Aalto community, that serves as a platform for improving student mental wellbeing and creating new campus experience.

The design journey – experimental, collaborative, and ambitious.

Our design journey was strategically experimental, fully collaborative, and enthusiastically ambitious. Through the online co-design workshops and rigorous prototype testing, combined with digital marketing methodologies, we could ensure the whole service was built with the set of  well-validated building blocks.

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Aha! Space – A space to get things done.

In Aha! Space, you will experience a very unique yet effective study environment where everyone in the room following the Pomodoro Technique of 25-minute work and 5-minute break repeatedly. There is a big stopwatch on the wall. The faint natural sounds help students focus on the work during the working time, and relaxing music during break-time informs students to break. This happens in both the individual-work space and group-work space. Having everyone around you concentrating helps to discipline yourself, and having everyone take a break at the same time also works to study without getting tired. This time structure shared with people around creates a sense of belonging and an environment for students' spontaneous interactions. Through a straightforward mechanism of providing time-based guidance and a little bit of social pressure, the service has a productive learning experience and social connection.

Challenge - Untangle student wellbeing.

Our research revealed that students' mental wellbeing is deeply rooted in their daily lives. Students are stressed by their ambition of study success, and want to improve their routine. Developing social connection is a crucial part of wellbeing, but is also stressful to put effort on.

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Aha! App  Boost study performance together with peers

With "Aha! App", you can do your own Pomodoro cycles with your selected background sounds. The app gives you different types of tips before you start working and during break time that helps you keep focused and relieve your stress and relax. The app not only allows you to use the Pomodoro Technique on your own, but you can also synchronize the time with the physical Aha! Space. Then you can see how many people are working in the physical and virtual Aha! Space using this single timer at the moment. You can also add your friends within the app and open a virtual study room to work with them. These functions make you feel like you are working in the same space with your fellow students, creating a sense of belonging even in virtual space.

Achievements – For the future development

The project showcases the power of online co-creation, how students can mutually support mental wellbeing , and how simple service intervention with less complexity and cost can effectively help students. We are happy to contribute not only to the Aalto students’ wellbeing but also to the future development of Aalto University.

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