Hi, we're Gajah.

We help you create positive, communal change
using big data and human insights.


For individuals who are concerned with maintaining healthy and happy neighbourhoods, Gajah is the social design consultancy that offers them impactful, contextual, and collaborative solutions through a design approach that combines big data and neighbourhood strengths.

We believe that successful social change starts from the people (bottom-up) and to make it sustainable, requires support from institutions, and companies (top-down) as stated by Manzini (2014). Social innovation is a complex activity, just like crafting origami, and involving many hands to create one makes it even more perplexing.

With our process, we aim to unfold and organise these complexities to create meaningful and beautifully simple solutions; just like when you finish origami, you get a beautiful end result.

Our Method: The Elephant Sprint

The elephant sprint is a five-week process specifically adjusted to design for a social, communal impact within a city or neighbourhood. Together, we will discover insights and involve stakeholders to solve complex social issues during the process.

Meet the elephant

In this first phase, we’d like you get to know our elephant: Gajah.

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Dream like an elephant

We explore and dream big, just like an elephant!

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Take an elephant ride

We will take you on an elephant ride, we make rapid prototype and refine it simultaneously.

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Embrace the elephant

We finish the elephant sprint! Now it is the time to embrace the elephant!

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Method Details


Meet the elephant

In this first phase, we’d like you get to know our elephant: Gajah. Introductions will be made and we will go on a safari together to discover current problems and combine different interpretations and perspectives. We take a close look at the root of the problem (archaeology & paradox), different stakeholders and areas (context). We point out themes and reframe the problem (frames).

By involving stakeholders municipalities, companies, and ambassadors of the neighbourhood and yourself, we facilitate collaboration and get a better understanding. We do data scouting around the problem area.


Dream like an elephant

We explore and dream big, just like an elephant! We first carefully reframe the problem and make it relevant for our upcoming journey through ideas. Then we roam through a map of selected data points to dream big ideas and envision an ideal situation for today and the near future.

We envision ideal situation to get new ideas for today and near future. We explore new ideas using the reframed problem. We select the whole data that was scouted (data selection), we analyse different elements in the data (data mapping) and generate ideas from it.


Take an elephant ride

We will take you on an elephant ride, we make rapid prototype and refine it simultaneously. We propose, develop concept and prototype it (build), evaluate (test) and refine the prototype by infuse new data sources (Big data infuse), and repeat the process (CK loop).


Embrace the elephant

We finish the elephant sprint! Now it is the time to embrace the elephant! We will share you the final product/service. We will also feed you the insights we found within the problem for further understanding and future use. Using big data, we find suitable partners and see if the problem is solved.

Our Projects

See what projects we did where we created communal change.

Neighboard // Feijenoord - Rotterdam (current project)

Feijenoord has a high amount of neighbour complaints. This is mainly due to the misunderstanding between residents of a different cultural background. Gajah developed a pinboard, which is placed in the streets, to stimulate the conversations and discussions between neighbours and to connect residents. Surprisingly the boards were also used to make appointments and invite neighbours to events. To make communicating even easier, software for digital boards was designed. Thanks to ‘De proeftuin’ and the local electronics shop ‘Telecom Annasr’, the boards will soon be placed in three districts of Feijenoord.

Big Data Usage: Demographics, social media connections, social media tags and complaint statistics

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Description per step:

1. Meet the elephant

Archeology: Feijenoord had a lot of neighbours complaining about each other's noise production (noise disturbance by neighbours).

Context: Feijenoord is a neighbourhood in Rotterdam with a mix of different residents and social structures. Residents are relatively young and currently the residents are very active. Among others, this resulted in a successful community center called ‘De Proeftuin’. Feijenoord lies next to the Maas and has a rich port history. However, the main port operations disappeared and lots of icon buildings, like De Hef and Het Entrepoortgebouw are used to a lesser extend.

Themes: By doing ethnographic research, Gajah discovered that there was not only a communication treshhold, but mainly one regarding processing of each other's behaviors. The neighbours, from different cultural background did not understand each other, have a lack of empathy and have different lifestyles and schedules. The paradox of not understanding each other, while having the same need for a relaxing evening, was identified.

Frames: The design challenge was therefore formulated as "Connecting Feijenoord neighbours from a different cultural background and building mutual understanding". To start the idea generation the design challenge was compared with playing hints with someone you don’t know. Of course this provides a disadvantage in terms of communication and understanding, but you could still win the game!

Big Data - Data selection: Demographics, Social media tags, Emotions social media tags, Social media connections, Amount of people passing icon buildings, Visits and usage of community center ‘De Proeftuin’

2. Dream like an elephant

Together with Feijenoord residents, brainstorms were done and ideas were developed. Gajah proposed a few concepts and discussed these with neighbours to gauge their opinions and expectations regarding the feasibility. Co-creating and both input and feedback from neighbourhood experts, like residents, helpers of the community center, employees of local companies and the municipality, was of great importance throughout the entire creative process and the multiple creative sessions.

Big data - Data mapping: Social media tags, Social media connections, Amount of people passing icon buildings, Visits and usage of community center ‘De Proeftuin’

3. Take a ride with the elephant

The pinboard idea, to stimulate the communication between neighbours and see each others general planning, was developed and prototyped. A prototype of the board was placed in a the Disselstraat, de Violierstraat and de Persoonshaven. Using just a Minimal Viable Product, the interactions between neighbours and the interactions of the users and the pinboard could be observed. It was noticed that the board did not only stimulated contact and empathy but was also used as a meeting point and as a means to get in contact with neighbours. Neighbours invited each other to parties and planned events together. This active usage of the board gave Gajah a lot of insights which were used in developing the final concept; the Neighbourd.

Big data - Selection and tracking results: Popular events,neighbourhood people connected to events or hobbies,events in neighbourhoods, connections on social media, pedestrian routes

4. Embrace the new solution

A new, digital pinboard design was made to provide the neighbours with possibilities to use the board more easily for not only scheduling and building empathy and connections, but also by empowering them to invite neighbours and to organise events together. Gadjah developed the software and suited digital board, resistant to rain and vandalism were selected. Entering into partnerships with the community center ‘De Proeftuin’ and the local electronics shop ‘Telecom Annasr’, the first Neighbours are currently about to be installed and will be placed in three districts of Feijenoord. We are very excited to see this project launch!

Big data - Tracking results: events in neighbourhoods, connections on social media, pedestrian routes, amount of neighbourhood complaints

Previous Projects

Meet and swing // Limmel - Maastricht

To stimulate the offline social interaction between neighbours and attract them to visit an abandoned part of the area, the Meet and Swing was proposed by Jan Miltenburg. Gajah made a swing station designed with 8 different swings.The swings, appropriate for all generations, provides a spot to meet (new) friends in a relaxing and fun way. The Do It Yourself Company Hornbach supported the project, so it could be implemented quickly.

Big Data Usage: Demographics, (in)popular pedestrian routes, playground statistics, spare time preferences.

Walk and Talk // Transvaal - Den Haag

Learning the Dutch language, the neighbourhood and building a social network can be done with the Walk and Talk. Walk and Talk provides language lessons which make use of the elements within the neighbourhood. Gajah brought the initiatator, Merve Gecmen, in contact with local printers, writers and the government of The Hague. Together, we developed an app and physical materials to support the learning experience when walking throughout the neighbourhood with the language guide, friends or alone.

Big Data Usage: Demographics, (in)popular pedestrian routes, word linkage to neighbourhood elements, social media connections, most used Dutch words


“We help you understand your community (1), by collaborating with you (2) and incorporating big data (3) to create happy and healthy neighbourhoods (4).”

1. Dealing with social problems/complexities

People are complex. Put them in a bigger group and the complexity only increases. Understanding people and their diverse backgrounds and behaviors can be difficult so we are here ready to help identify important concerns and values to make our solutions meaningful to you.

2. Facilitating collaborations

Doing things alone is not as fun as doing things together. We understand the importance of working together to successfully achieve a common goal, so we ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and everyone who wants to contribute can throughout our process.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” - Helen Keller

3. Incorporating big data

Big Data is on the rise. Lots of cities are sensing data, revealing hidden patterns which are mainly used in infrastructure and logistics. We use Big Data in a different way, seizing it humanly and socially, using it as input throughout our process. We explore people’s habits, values and concerns and incorporate them in our solutions to create a better fit for you.

4. Happy and healthy neighbourhoods

Happiness has recently been a new currency in which people measure how successful they are. By collaborating in a fun manner we hope to stimulate communities to be healthy and happier, and potentially even boost the local economy.

How to work with us

You can run with us in two different sprints, suited to your needs.

  • Baby Elephant Sprint
    Just the basics
  • We will do two tracks in this sprint (meet the elephant and dream like an elephant). It is a suitable sprint for you who wants to get new insights and ideas about the neighbourhood or problem area.
  • Involving us to get new insights and ideas will gives you different perspective from the related stakeholders, institutions, communities, companies, and real people from the neighbourhood as well as integrated insights from big data.

  • Start Now!
  • Big Elephant Sprint
    Get the full package
  • We will complete all tracks in the elephant sprint, from exploring the context of the problem to sharing the result in final product or service with you. It is suitable for anyone who wants to create a sustainable positive, communal change with us.
  • Working with us means that we will hand in hand in supporting the neighbourhood. Through our crowdfunding system, we cooperate with local companies to fund the project and boost the local economy. It is a social movement towards future change.

  • Start Now!


Take a closer look into our amazing team. We won’t bite.

Dorus van den Oord

Digital Support

Specialized in the technical feasibility and engineering, Dorus is able to look into the opportunities provided by Big Data. When testing new ideas and concepts, he is able to build functioning (software) prototypes.
Like this website? It was built by Dorus!

Jessica Apeldoorn

Business and Big Data

Jessica is the person within Gajah who can judge the business and Big Data viability of ideas and concepts. She finds suitable business plans and seizes Big Data to make the implementations successful.

Ummu Sakiinah

Creative Facilitator

Sakiinah is a trained facilitator and is therefore the perfect woman to lead creative sessions with neighbours and other stakeholders throughout the Elephant Sprint. Her empathy makes her very approachable and sympathetic.

Cheron Huskens

Translator of Insights

Combining ethnographic research and a technical understanding, Cheron can translate both Big Data and human insights into useful guidelines for the design process. She is trained in using these insights in the concept development.

Sanne Jongeling

Researcher and Planner

With a background in cultural focussed consumer research and innovation management, Sanne helps Gajah to keep updated about new consumer trends and understanding of different cultures. She also helps to set up the projects and keeps the holistic view.

Get In touch

Want to work with us? Great! Send us a message or pass by our offices.