Shaping Wollongong

Collaborative citymaking; defining 10 big ambitions for Wollongong.


ClientProperty Council Australia

Location: Wollongong, NSW

Shaping Wollongong was a strategic visioning project that was devised to provide a “light on the hill” and define a shared future for the city.

It involved a high-profile all-of-Wollongong conversation happening in the newspaper, on radio & television, in boardrooms, on social media platforms, in the streets and in cafes and around watercoolers all over town.

Using the dynamics of game-play, Hello City devised and delivered an Ideas-a-thon: an innovative public engagement event to create a sense of excitement and generate thousands of ideas for the enhancement of the city. 

Public Ideas-a-thon

The Ideas-a-thon comprised a series of three challenges for teams to complete over the course of an afternoon. Corporate, government, community, small business, cultural and family teams all took part.

Challenge One – Capture – was to take and upload photos of Wollongong in response to a series of 16 statements, such as “Wouldn’t it be terrible if Wollongong had more of this?”, “This makes my heart sing” and “Change”. Challenge Two – Spark – was about quantity: coming up with as many ideas as humanly possible racing against the clock

Challenge Three – Hack – was about taking an idea, pulling it apart and putting it back together again. Participants brainstormed in groups through a set of questions such as “What would a 6 year old do with this idea?”, “How would you deliver this idea if you only had 3 months and $100?” and “How would you deliver this idea if it were the year 2100?”. Once they completed their idea-hacking by the final deadline, teams bundled into a photobooth to capture the moment. 

A team of local luminaries including the Deputy Mayor, local ABC radio presenter and Deputy Vice Chancellor gave feedback on the quality and diversity of the ideas and awarded prizes

The event had a massive response locally. 41 teams took part on the day, totalling 163 participants. Over 900 photos uploaded for the photo challenge, providing a beautiful and meaningful story of the hopes, aspirations and concerns of the city. Thousands of ideas were generated, refined and strengthened which formed the basis for the next stage of the project.

Ideas Lab Hello City facilitated an Ideas Lab: an intensive creative and strategic workshop. The Ideas Lab brought together a broad range of stakeholders with the knowledge, insight, ability, skills and passion to describe a way forward for the city of Wollongong. 

Around 60 participants worked in groups brought together around specific themes. The groups were strategically selected to include people who were best placed to understand each theme from its different angles, with intimate knowledge of the barriers, levers, politics and history – and what it would take to bring them to fruition. Everyone from senior managers at council and state government to local entrepreneurs, traders, developers and artists took part.

The Lab worked them through a rigorous process of developing, testing, refining and shaping ideas into well-resolved strategies each with its own short and longer term action plans.

Participants worked through a series of 3 stages on the day:

  • Exploration, understanding the context and key drivers

  • Refinement, testing, analysis, finding the sweet spots between ambition & deliverability

  • Conclusions, decisions, actions, captured in a business canvas model for each theme


Participants explored the environment, the forces shaping Wollongong as it is today, the possible resources, issues and people that have an impact on their theme. They considered the broader forces shaping this society to make hard judgement calls about the sweet spot between ambition and practicalities and set defined goals before finally mapping in detail what needs to happen to realise their goals. Not bad for a day’s work.

Finally a document captured this industriousness, thinking, dreaming and current momentum in one place. We don’t think of this as a strategy or a report. We think of it as a glimpse into the minds of participants and the audacious future they see for Wollongong.


“Hello City worked with us & a broader consultative team to craft an innovative gamification strategy. This delivered not just the final strategic document, but strategic input, images & commitment from professionals, decision-makers & the broader community – who had a lot of fun in the process. It remains a gold star approach to community consultation & city regeneration which now has the impetus to deliver the project.” 

The Property Council


We can’t wait to work with Hello City again!” 

– The Property Council, February 2014


“It was a privilege to be involved in this project.”

– Susanne Pini, Rice Daubney Architects