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Social Innovation

ON the Road

Improving the Tipplezone, Service Design for drug-addicted street prostitutes.

The Tippelzone was a legalised street prostitution strip in Eindhoven, Netherlands. In 2008 the city council invited a service design group of KISD students to create concepts to enable new perspectives for these women to consequently be able to close the Tippelzone in 2011.

my role

  • Exploration

  • Observations

  • Conceptualization

  • Expert Interviews

  • In-Depth meetings

Duration: 2 months

Manpower: Team of 12


The Challenge

In cooperation with the City of Eindhoven, we were a group of service design students from KISD tasked with developing Levenskracht – a service that improves the living situation of street prostitutes. The service was successfully implemented, and it created measurable value for the City of Eindhoven.


​Our approach was to initially observe the current practices at the Tippelzone and conduct interviews with the prostitutes, social workers and volunteers supporting the women mentally and physically. This helped us gain an understanding of the issues and perceived shortcomings of the current situation. It became apparent that the existing setting was too rigid, providing no incentives for the prostitutes to undergo detoxification and insufficient cooperation between the supporting social services to help these women holistically. It needed a system approach and a change in attitude of all the stakeholders involved.



Our design solution is an innovative public service called Levenskracht (Dutch for vitality) which is a collaboration between the different supporting social services. It provides basic and extended support lines to gradually give the prostitutes more responsibility for their own lives by providing intensive support, health services, education, and motivation. These service lines are co-created with the women involved.


This solution was presented at a conference in Eindhoven in 2008 and a solution inspired by it helped to close the Tippelzone in 2011.


In 2010, Levenskracht started to work with a pilot group of women in order to test, improve the concept, then analyse the impact and the financial aspects. In 2011, Levenskracht replaced the Tippelzone.

Methodology & Approach

System analysis:
collecting as much insight as possible about the system using ethnographic research tools and service design specific tools.

System visualization: highlighting the patterns, tensions, contradictions within the system and the key issues that stabilize the system. Translating these key issues into opportunities.


Creation sessions:

building ideas for change. The service designers collaborated with addicted women, caretakers, politicians and industrialists, as well as specialists like social workers and psychologists from other cities.


Culutral Probes Kit

The research for this project was extremely challenging due to the sensitivity of the topic of prostitution. To make a real change we needed to understand very closely the life of woman that decided to work as a prostitute. For that, we created Cultural Probe Kits that allowed the women to document their lives but without feeling disturbed by an observer.

Additional Research

  • Onsite interviews

  • Contextual interviews

  • Observations



Mapping interrelations

The challenge we were working on, a social challenge takes place in a complex context with many stakeholders. To get the needed understanding of the social system, stakeholder interviews were conducted.


This complex insight was mapped to understand all the connections between the stakeholders, and their relationship and how they influence each other.

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