Co-Well: Co-Creative methods for wellbeing at a distance

Home > Projects > Co-Well: Co-Creatieve methoden voor welzijn op afstand

COVID-19 has affected the way we live, learn, exercise, work and craft; and prospectively our digital, social, physical, and mental wellbeing. It jeopardizes our most fundamental needs for social contact, health and particularly happiness.

Hence, the pandemic seems to be pushing us to craft and develop new creative, digital and intelligent practices, solutions and understandings; new ways of connecting, interacting, being physical and being distant. Consequently, people such as in the creative industry have begun to respond to challenges such as corona-tracing and social distancing by means of technology.

The COVID-19 situation and regulation further seem to have accelerated a turn towards digitization as to play a larger and more permanent role in our lives, and as almost to replace our physical presence. This virtual move and its rather invisible, abstract nature impacts on issues as users’ autonomy, control, privacy and digital self-reliance. Hence, as the accessibility and transparency of the workings of technology and data collection are at stake, the risk is now that underrepresented and vulnerable groups in the digital society, namely elderly, digital illiterates and (visually) impaired people are being left out.

On the other hand, the new digital situation and technological developments such as accessible maker tools, tangible interfaces, Internet of Things and smart sensing also create various new participative and empowering opportunities, particularly for progressing beyond the screen, and augmenting social, mental and physical wellbeing. E.g., as motivating factor for using new smart digital ways for supporting physical exercise, for smart remote detection of public sentiment and crowds, or creatively using robots to serve drinks or medicines at a 1.5 metre distance. Especially now, new tools, methods and knowledge are needed for adequately and responsibly designing and deploying such new ‘physical’ creative and digital (dis)connected ways.

Apart from affecting how we physically interact, design and make, the current COVID-19 situation has also caused us particularly to turn in how we approach face-to-face research. The question is how can we study and come up with successful and thoughtful tacit solutions when we cannot even be present? How can we develop new understandings when we cannot physically and visually observe those changes and collect data, for example from elderly in care homes? How can we develop those new understandings and tacit knowledge when we cannot even co-create physical prototypes together?

This calls for new participatory and creative research approaches and solutions -particularly for bridging the digital and physical divide. Think of remote physical making and particularly co-creation in place; other forms of data collection and creative research practices in a 1.5 metre-distant society. We propose to explore new co-creative methods that are needed for enabling responsible, tangible insights and grasp on what is happening now. This in relation to happy and healthy living during the pandemic itself and in the broader creative picture of our current long-term distant digital society. By collectively creating, studying, collecting data and sharing new (visual and palpable) insights and best practices, the idea is to better adapt to this situation and reinvent appropriate digital, physical and co-creative solutions and strategies for remote research and design in a smart, participatory and responsible 1.5-metre society.

To conclude, for supporting social, physical and mental wellbeing, this proposal focuses on new physical participative ways of digital and co-creative methods in times of virtual and distant connectedness.


- Showcase website with best practices and different inspiring articles around the Co-Well theme

- Happy activities: Development of various websites for sharing and engaging in happiness-increasing activities with different target groups (AUAS Student project with 25 students from the course Enterprise Web Application)

- Happy toolkit for remote user research (with students from AUAS minor Caring technology)

- Music playlist on Spotify for co-creative inspiration from a distance

- Questionnaire results for identifying issues and solutions from professionals

- (S)how your distance: On-line tool that can estimate the distance between you and another person using the camera of your device (computer or smartphone)




This research has been partly continued under the name Co-Prodigy

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