Happiness t0 g0

Urban intervention

What if

you make people leave their comfort zone to do acts of kindness


Read Time ~ 3 min
Service Design

My Role

All team members contributed with designing, implementing, executing and documenting the intervention.


Aarhus has for many years been branded as "the city of smiles" and thus happiness, joy and positivity are part of the city's self-­image. In this project, we created an intervention that was aimed at spreading joy and happiness in the urban life of Aarhus.

The Concept

We hijacked the McDonald's by setting up a temporary McDonald’s stall from which we gave away various food items at the cost of high-­fives, hugs or kisses on the cheek. This provided three levels of participation from which it gave people an option of payment reflecting their individual boundaries. The more intimate they are, the better food items they receive.

The intervention resulted in 13 high-­fives, 22 hugs and 12 kisses on the cheek, suggesting that citizens were in fact willing to be intimate with strangers.


For the intervention we utilized several props associated with the McDonald's brand. Among these props, we utilized an original McDonald's sign and packed 50 McDonald's bags. We leveraged the McDonald's brand as it has a reputation for being fast and efficient. In addition, the brand also gave association with happiness. 

A menu poster was placed on the ordering stall. The menu poster shows three menus the customer can choose between. The menus have been designed to make the customers reflect on the choice of menus. In other words, the further they choose to go, the better menu they will get in return.

The process

We initiated the process by observing an urban area in Aarhus of our choosing. On the basis of the observation, we did a space analysis of the urban area. In other words, we analyzed the history, behaviors, functionality and form of the area. This gave us an understand for the area we were designing an intervention.

On the basis of the space analysis, we then began to brainstorm intervention ideas. We decided to with the idea of giving free food. The idea fitted well with the chosen area since the McDonald's on the corner just closed down after 35 years. In other words, the restaurant meant something for the area.

To make the intervention fit with the McDonald's brand; we decided that the food should be given in exchange of kind acts.

Since our intervention was a service, we decided to utilize service design methods to plan our intervention. We mocked up the intervention in foam models, so could sense how the intervention could play out.

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