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Service Design (MA)

Madhurya Katragadda

I am an interdisciplinary designer with an interest in enhancing and strengthening communities. My background in architecture and spatial design helped by building a strong foundation to become a service designer. The design thinking skills I developed during my architectural practice helped me understand users' needs with an empathic lens to create innovative solutions. Combining this with systems thinking abilities allows me to craft user-friendly experiences and analyze complex service ecosystems around them to create cohesive and impactful service designs.

Throughout my 8 years of professional experience, I gained a wealth of experience in identifying needs, solving problems through rigorous research and co-creation, and collaborating with stakeholders across disciplines to deliver to their needs. Additionally, my expertise in data visualization allows me to communicate insights effectively. 

When I'm not in the design studio, you'll often find me travelling, reading books, or practising yoga. 


  1. Unify: Accelerating Public Participation in collaboration with UN Habitat (Digital Helpdesk for Cities)
  2. The Freelance Collective: Leveraging the strength of an enterprise to mobilise & support freelancers in their pursuit of creative mastery 
  3. Beyond Numbers: Activating communities through creative engagement


MA in Service Design, Royal College of Art, London; 2022 – 2023

MA in Architecture, X-Urban, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Spain; 2017 – 2018

• Won Project Excellency Award X-Urban for the final project to trigger a shift in food production in HongKong

Bachelor of Architecture, B.M.S College of Engineering, Bangalore, India; 2009 – 2014


Founder & Spatial Designer, 11DS, Muscat, Oman/ Hyderabad, India;2018 – 2022

Architect, EIDC, Muscat, Oman; 2019 – 2019

Lead Architect, HR Lines, Hyderabad, India; 2014 – 2017

Degree Details

School of DesignService Design (MA)RCA2023 at Battersea and Kensington

RCA Kensington, Stevens Building, Second and third floors

Profile Picture

As a designer, the focus of my practice is creating better futures for individuals and communities. I approach my work with a desire to use design to build an inclusive world, where everyone can access services that meet their needs and contribute to their well-being. I believe in the power of community and use design to bring people together and create more resilient communities. Through my practice, I would like to explore how to design that provides resilience to the communities. I am particularly interested in the role of design in shaping public services and creating user-friendly solutions that respond to the needs of citizens. My goal is to contribute to a more equitable and inclusive world by using design as a force for positive change and working collaboratively with individuals and communities to create meaningful solutions.


Society often associates individuals with their age. They are expected to behave, set goals, and have a routine solely based on their chronological age. However, can a mere number truly define how a person should live their life? This issue is particularly pertinent to older people, as societal perceptions restrict their opportunities and choices. These ingrained perceptions also influence the regulatory bodies and support systems available to older individuals, resulting in predominantly reactive approaches that limit current services being restricted to the medical needs or functional needs of older people.

One fundamental problem lies in the general categorisation of anyone over the age of 60 as "old," leading to services primarily focused on assistance and care. However, the reality is that the older individuals need are evolving and are different at various stages of their later years. Prior to reaching a stage of complete dependence, they aspire to pursue ambitions, explore new careers, and engage in new hobbies. Despite their strong will, diminishing functional capabilities often prevent them from utilizing regular services. Consequently, older individuals grapple with various emotions, including fear of the unknown, denial of the need to change everyday habits to support their needs, and self-consciousness regarding perceived incapability.

How can we effectively support older individuals during their transition period and help them lead the lives they envision for themselves? With the ageing population projected to double and reach nearly 10 million within the next 15 years, addressing these needs becomes increasingly urgent. It is crucial to move beyond the reactive lens and develop comprehensive support systems that accommodate the evolving aspirations and challenges faced by older individuals.Pr

Older individuals have a strong will to participate and continue to contribute, but inhibitions prevent them.
Aspirations vs Barriers

The Challenge

Governments worldwide are scrambling to address the challenges posed by this demographic shift. This demographic shift has significant implications for all aspects of society, including labour and financial markets, the demand for goods and services, such as education, housing, health, long-term care, social protection, transport, information and communication, as well as family structures and intergenerational ties.

However, the current systems and social structures in place do not adequately support the evolving needs of the older population. Individuals often find themselves navigating these uncertain transitions on their own or with minimal support from their surroundings.

  • As people age, their social circles tend to diminish, resulting in social isolation due to limited opportunities and avenues to form new social bonds.
  • The services designed to provide support and care are often stigmatised and inaccessible due to various barriers, including financial, cultural, and logistical factors.
  • On top of the physical, cognitive, and emotional changes that accompany ageing, individuals also have to contend with the negative stigma associated with growing older.
  • Retirement is rapidly becoming an obscure concept with more individuals leaning towards (or compelled) continuing to live, work and do as they please, without opting for 'retirement' where one ceases to work beyond a certain chronological age.

Insight 1: Drastic change in socialising opportunity
Insight 2: Non-conducive environments for social participation
Insight 3: Retirement: An obsolete narrative
Cycle of Isolation
Cycle of Isolation

The Opportunity

Despite the prevailing negative connotations associated with ageing, it is important to recognize that this view hinders progress for all of us. There is tremendous potential to reshape the narrative in a way that addresses the issue systemically and avoids reinforcing existing negative perspectives. There is a pressing need and opportunity to design environments that foster healthy ageing. We must aim to create inclusive and supportive communities that promote longevity, enabling individuals to lead fulfilling lives as they grow older. Achieving this goal requires collaborative efforts on a systemic level to bring about transformative shifts in the social and cultural landscape.

Service Concept

Our service intends to orchestrate conducive environments for healthy ageing through a network of hyperlocal hubs that serve as a platform for facilitating intergenerational symbiotic exchanges of value through the active involvement of local councils, charities and service providers. We aim to facilitate these engaging opportunities that can be initiated by the community or local organizations within the neighborhoods. Through our strategic partnerships with the borough council, we intend to provide them with the necessary infrastructure and resources required to support these initiatives.

Service concept
Service Concept showing hyperlocal hubs in a community

Project Brief

The UN-Habitat has a multi-stakeholder initiative called The People-Centered Smart Cities Flagship Programme. Within this lies the Digital Helpdesk for Cities which brings together UN Agencies, city networks, development banks and other organizations to provide technical support to cities through digital transformation and digital governance. Their expectation from the brief was to explore how a service that brings together a global community of actors through new and existing networks of communities would look like, its integration with the Digital Helpdesk and possible implementation through a pilot project currently being conducted in four European cities. 

For our project, we decided to focus on the region of London City. There are platforms for citizen participation that have been launched by the government but the engagement levels on the platform are very low. Our initial question was to understand how these initiatives are created, launched and impact the public.

Design Process
Design Process Our extensive research phase involved: 1. Conversations with UN Habitat representatives. 2. Desk research of the UN Habitat documentation 3. Literature review of existing services and platforms 4. Interviews with civil servants and local councillors in various boroughs of London, domain experts from organisations like Nesta, MIT Collective Intelligence, CitizenLab, Public Digital and Collective Intelligence lab. 5. Visits to community Assembly events held at Newham, Southwark and Stratford.
Design Process
Complex stakeholder landscape
Complex stakeholder landscape The policy field is a complex ecosystem with multiple stakeholders.
structured stakeholder landscape
To simplify this ecosystem, we categorised them into three main stakeholder groups - Local Government, Partners and Citizens.
Public Participation Journey
We mapped out the journey that the government follows from initiation to implementation of an initiative that involves public participation to understand the pain points and opportunity areas at each step.
A fragmented system
A fragmented system
A fragmented system


“How might we equip local governments with the skills, resources and partnerships needed to empower citizens for public participatory engagement?”

Our integrated redefined journey helps civil servants formulate effective public participation strategies by offering timely support through a credible network of enablers and a dynamic knowledge repository.

The main components of the value proposition are redefining the journey, creating online and offline touch points. Online touch point includes a multi stakeholder collaboration platform for enablers and civil servants. Whereas offline touch points which include community events are for citizen representatives to interact with both enablers as well as the partners.

Envisioned public participation journey
Envisioned public participation journey
Feedback from the civil servants
Feedback from the civil servants We tested our user, value and business hypothesis through initial prototypes with Civil servants including Councillors, Partners including freelancers, and domain experts to refine the service.
Feedback from the domain experts
Feedback from the domain experts
Service Proposal – Introducing Unify - a platform that connects local governments with partners.
Service Proposal – Introducing Unify - a platform that connects local governments with partners.
Persona: Civil Public Participation Lead Meet Trish, who is the Public Participation Lead for Newham. She is responsible for ensuring maximum participation of citizens in government initiatives. Currently she is tasked with engaging citizens in the Green City Project. She is finding it difficult to engage and sustain citizen participation because lack of in-house expertise. She wants help in executing this project.
She comes across Unify and decides to give it shot! She registers into the platform as a local govt body and starts looking for help by entering her requirements and project details. Trish enters the portal and scrolls through the page to review job listings to identify potential partners whom she can onboard on to Green City project.
She finds interested partners who would like to support the project. In addition, she also has an option to consult with the UN. The platform recommends Arnauld’s profile to Trish based on his expertise and availability.
She looks at his skills, CV, recommendations and relevant projects he has worked on. Also, he is a Certified Partner! So she decides to connect with him.
Persona: Freelance Government Expert Let's look at Arnold. He is a freelance governance expert and was invited by the UN to join the platform. Before he signed up on the platform, he found it difficult to work with governments as he had limited say in the decision-making process.
Job board
First, Arnauld enters the platform as a partner. He has an invitation to a meeting from Trish and thus enters the portal. When registering on the platform for the first time, he must either be invited by the UN or apply for membership.
Job Board
He reviews Trish's recommended job for the Green City Project and is interested in contributing to the project. So he applies for the position. Once they connected, they would work together on the project.
Job Board
Once the project is successfully completed, the case study will be uploaded to the knowledge repository for future reference. The repository also offers tailored support and a glossary of terms used in the policy-making process.
Value Exchange
Value Exchange Flow of Money Based on the feedback from the UN Habitat, we have positioned Unify as a non-profit entity, which is operated on grant-based funding. Flow of Data Through Unify, civil servants post job opportunities for partners. And partners can collaborate with civil servants by showcasing their expertise. Flow of Value UN Habitat will provide partners with verification. And partners will provide civil servants with knowledge and skills. At the end, UN Habitat can carry out their mission.

Service Positioning

 In the current ecosystem of public participation, there are platforms connecting citizens and the local governments but the enablers are not able to successfully add value because there is no established methodology of having a connection between enablers and the local government. Unify aims to be this missing link in the ecosystem.