Buttercrumble were invited to take part in the University of Leeds’ Creative Labs 2018. This ground-breaking programme pairs creative professionals with researchers from the University. Participants enter into the experience on an equal footing, and have the rare opportunity to have unstructured space in which to explore and create ideas together without an agenda. With no expectation of an output, the process allows partners to establish the focus of their engagement with each other from the outset.

We joined forces with the talented Dr Katy Roelich. By combining Katy's research with our visualisation skills, we're aiming to create inspirational visuals around climate issues. These will motivate the general public and decision-makers within the city. 

Our outcome was Newtopia, a toolkit of visual assets, to be used by researchers in order to engage with participants. The public can use Newtopia to build their dream cities.



Buttercrumble is a creative communications studio based in Leeds, founded by alumni of The University Leeds, Chloe and Abigail Baldwin. Collaboration and research are at the core of their brand. They are passionate about delivering important messages to communities through fun graphic design and illustration.


Katy Roelich is an academic at the University of Leeds based in the School of Earth and Environment and the School of Civil Engineering. Her research aims to improve long-term decision making focusing on how we can embed flexibility into decision making processes and how to engage stakeholders and the public in more democratic decision making processes.



Our design relies on research as the first phase of our process and acts as a keystone for the entire project. This is so we can understand the problem, test assumptions and create a stable strategy. We minimise the risk of failure and optimise the success.


The Mission

Newtopia is here to inspire the public to create their ideal city and the infrastructure that supports it. We capture the ideas and stories of what makes a city a wonderful place to live, to help decision makers deliver places that really meet the public’s needs and aspirations.



People want breaks between the ‘grey’ and a physical feeling of space and being able to feel like they can get out of the city when they desire. This is why they want so much greenery, almost as a way to protect the space. In the research, quite a few referred to Central Park in New York. They also recognised the need to connect spaces and many drew a series of connected spaces and corridors. Many referred to feeling calm and safe.



People really care about how a city looks – this is partly to do with there being a lot of green space but also related to the aesthetics of the buildings and infrastructure itself. They want infrastructure to be beautiful, not just functional.



A lot of people want spaces to get together and just hang out. Green space was used for playing, not just to encourage nature. Things can be grouped in these spaces to encourage people to go, such as water features and transport crossings.



It’s very important to many people that the community has a role in developing and operating the infrastructure, so the become an integral part of the city.



It really matters to a lot of people that the city supports itself, particularly in terms of water and energy. There is pride in being able to support oneself.

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The logo design reflects the public’s primary infrastructure needs. These are space, aesthetics, connection, community and self‑sufficiency. The simplicity creates a professional, corporate feel and the organic forms signify the desire for life and greenery.

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Consistent typography should used across all collateral to create a consistent and coherent brand. Fonts are suitable for web and print. The sans-serif typeface is eligible and modern. The softness of the form prevents collateral from appearing too corporate and reflects people's desire for natural, organic spaces.

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The colour palette reflects the desire for green spaces. It will appeal to the general public due to the age/gender neutrality. White should be used generously. Colour can be used as a hierarchical element to highlight key areas of information.

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These fun illustrations form the visual tool-kit which can be used when creating any materials for Newtopia. They can be used by those who participate in research and workshops in order to visualise their own dream city. They are story-telling tools.


We see great potential for Newtopia. We would like to experiment with different research workshop methods including Myriorama

story-telling cards. The workshops could also be developed digitally to collect data on a larger scale.


Branding of places is an interesting concept too. We hope to explore how this could translate to Leeds and surrounding cities.