Pavegen- Renewable energy methods (IEPP)

Climate change is on the rise and the effects of the untold usage of fossil fuels is becoming ever ending. Renewable energy resources are the next step for us to start contributing to resolving these issues. Pavegen is a sustainable company that created a technical new solution to sustainability within the built environment. Their new paving slab design stores and uses the kinetic energy produced by ourselves daily. The paving slabs utilise the power of our footsteps to contribute to a greater environmental goal. All of their innovations are contributing to the smart cities. The weight of footsteps causes electromagnetic induction generators to vertically displace, resulting in a rotatory motion that generates off-grid electricity. The tiles allow for real-time movement data analysis, whilst also producing power when and where it is needed.  ‘footfall harvesting’ could become a thing of future generations. Think of the un-told footfall over Oxford Circus and the extremity of the ever growing population within the city. This resourceful energy solution could become the next step for cities energy solutions. Imagine the shops that could be partially powered by just the energy used in our day to day lives. Walking is a motion that doesn’t require a conscious feedback response, we do it naturally. So why not take advantage of the energy we already use. Pavegen have completed projects for educational purposes, promotional and event installations. Their projects range in style and purpose one of which is a pop up stand at a festival that charges phones form the festival goers dancing vibrations upon the tiles. This green promotion utilised the energy the festival goers already exhibited and shown people the benefits of such technology. They also provided a lighting solution for the London Olympics that used the energy from the Olympic visitors to light the way over the bridge from the station to the Olympic park. Each slab produced and stored energy, a small led spot light on each slab lit up with every step and the rest of the energy was transferred into larger led lights that ran parallel to the bridge to the park. It was here that the slabs really served a function. People were able to realise their effects by acknowledging the small led light transmitted from their step. Each of Pavegen’s designs are experiential they utilise fun innovative ideas to raise awareness of kinetic effects. They have done work across the cities so maybe soon this will become a more frequently used concept. What Pavegen have done themselves makes you think just how much more could be implemented into our day to day life that will have a direct impact on our environment. Utilising more of these design methods will help us as a society contribute to saving and restoring the environmental issues.

Kings Fund Trust- Alderney Hospital (IEPP)

kings

The Kings Fund Trust is an independent charity that works to improve health care in England, they undertake research and analysis in order to support and develop teams and organisations all contributing to improving the health care system. Some of their projects work directly with hospitals around England to help them develop and restore their current facilities. When undertaking regeneration projects they don’t just ‘chuck’ designers into a project, they involve and work directly with the nurses upon the ward who have thorough understanding of what the patients requirements and needs are. The trust helps to train and educate the nurses on processes of design that could help the patients. This company is of great interest to me as I believe their way of working has the potential to make further permanent changes amongst the system; educating during the design process will have a lasting effect that nurses can reflect back on. A project I looked into was one carried out among the Dementia Ward at the Alderney Hospital in Dorchester. Dementia is an illness that unfortunately is gradually effecting more and more people. People suffering from dementia get effected by overwhelming colour changes and patterning. Before Kings Fund went to the hospital, the ward had a very high fall rate amongst the patients. Kings Fund acknowledged that it was the pattern on the flooring tiles causing this disorientation. Patients suffering from dementia visually see lighter tones of the pattern as raised areas which causes cognitive exhaustion when manipulating the pattern. Once the hospital removed flooring patterns and replaced it with natural wood that was not light reflective avoiding the creation of pools of light, their were immediate decline effects on the falls of patients. They also created a colour coding application around the hospital to help the patients become more independent and manipulate the ward themselves. They applied primary colours to door rims, toilet seats, and hand rails which stood out from the rest of the pale cream walls and meant patients could identify between different rooms. The Bright red handrails were of the most interest to me as they reached for the colours automatically balancing themselves before becoming consciously aware of it. The ward felt that all of these attributes helped to prepare the patient for life on their own outside the ward.

I thought it was really motivational how design had such great effects on the patients and allowed for such changes. This makes you think how can we take some of these ideas and contribute them into everyday life.  Create an environment that is inclusive for all, allow people suffering with the illness to continue their life as long as possible with lower difficulties. Maybe it’s something public spaces need to think about more especially with the rises in percentages of suffers.  Colour sensory design can create great effects on illnesses and well being.

https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/

CSM Spatial Practices- Housing (IEPP)

Through reading a lot of Oliver Wainwrights work already in the guardian, this talk was of great interest. The talk was made out of a debating panel of representatives from councils and designers all currently involved in contributing to the issues of housing in London. Each have their own view on the problems and solutions to housing, It was really interesting to see different perspectives. Things read in the media can be very mis-leading this talk allowed for information to be discussed first hand and a chance for each individual to show their personal opinions. Affordable housing is a very large question amongst the urban city livers, I agree with Oliver when he says that the housing crisis is mostly down to the affordability and access of properties. There are many empty new builds around the city that sit stagnant and empty due to the extremity of prices attached to them. This space can then be argued as a waste of space. Barbara who is part of the housing association of Westminster council discusses that lots of these developers who knock down social housing in order to start fresh and provide more facilities, actually end up providing a lower number of flats, which really isn’t providing an answer to our problems. She ended the presentation with “the real problem, is that we believe were entitled to a 3 bed house in the centre of this urban city”. This amusing comment really knocks the nail on the head with how expectations out way the reality. The talk then went on to discuss the RUSS community run project that focuses on involving the community, claiming some of the council’s public space and setting out a ‘Self Build’ Project that encourages new development of skills, a sense of empowering the local people. His concepts are very interesting, through building what the community needs ourselves we develop key skills and characteristics which also open up knew future aspirations but at the same time resolving the lack of housing. Now pocket living work on a very different strategic method to housing. They have realised intermediate housing for city makers, of which goes against the square meter planning and provides a much smaller space for individuals. Marc stated that generations have changed and no longer hold precious object belongings, books or CD’s we live in a technological age which requires minimal space. Pocket living and the collective both have very subjective designs that work for the percentage of single, young professionals but are un-adaptable for when their lives progress. This poses the question is this a solution; Aim specifics of a design at certain target groups and suit their needs, then when needs change they move on, at least housing is answered for a majority of the time I guess. Collective similarly designed a co-living space which supplied communal facilities. Living facilities were small as they supplied access to larger communal areas for ‘life to take place’. They worked upon the idea of meeting and socialising with others in your own apartment.

This lecture briefly covered many strategies to London’s housing, some of which you may agree with others you may not, but it was one that was very interesting and current to today’s issues which I think is important. It was also very helpful to get some facts about today’s issues from people themselves and not just the media.

http://www.arts.ac.uk/csm/courses/our-programmes/spatial-practices-programme/lecture-series-/

The Principles of Interaction

iphone-music

 

Don Norman discusses 6 fundamental principles of interaction and how these have a parallel effect on the experience associated with the design. He discusses how each psychological concept relates to the discoverability and total understanding or misunderstanding of the design. Don Norman quotes that “experience is critical, for it determines how fondly people remember their interactions” Norman (2013, p. 10) This experience can be compromised through lack or misuse of the concepts and can cause confusion. ‘Apple Music’ is an App installed on each iPhone display setting and features the abilities to download music and retain your favourite playlists. I am referring to this design model to show examples of each psychological concept.

“Affordance refers to the relationship between a physical object and a person. It is a relationship between the properties of an object and the capabilities of the agent that determine just how the object could possibly be used.” Norman (2013 p. 11) Affordances are how an agent can relate to the design, these affordances can adjust through each individual’s abilities; an object can have an affordance to lift but this depends on the agent’s strength and ability otherwise the affordance is lost. The Apple Music app affords the notions of Downloading, Listening, Playing, Pausing, Skipping, Browsing, Scrolling, Creating. Each of these affordance properties are possible for many.

Signifiers work hand in hand with affordances, they communicate where the affordance action should take place. “The term signifier refers to any mark or sound, any perceivable indicator that communicates appropriate behaviour to a person.” Norman (2013 p. 14) It reveals to the user where and what the affordances are. In this case through Icons, Symbols and Definitions (Instructions). These highlight where affordances can be occupied i.e. An Icon explaining ‘Browse’ navigates the user to the correct area to succeed the browsing affordance; The Display of the universal Play, Pause, Skip symbols let the user understand whether they are playing the chosen song and can navigate through selection.

“Mapping is an important concept in the design and layout of controls and displays” Norman (2013 p. 21) Mapping is the position and placement of signifiers; these highlight the areas that actions can be taken place. The Apple signifier icons are logically mapped to take you straight to the correct area instead of diverting onto an incorrect page. The icons are also logically positioned at the base of the app making their positioning key to the usability. “When the mapping uses spatial correspondence between the layout of the controls and the devices being controlled, it is easy to determine how to use them” Norman (2013 p. 21)

Feedback is “Communicating the results of an action” Norman (2013 p. 23) Initiating a response to the action of the design is important to stop confusion or frustration amongst users. Feedback needs to be an immediate response and of the right level, you don’t want to overwhelm the user with too much information and you also want the feedback to be recognised. Apple Music use symbols to acknowledge that music is being downloaded, this tells the user to wait. It is then visibly displayed in the apps music library letting the user know the download is complete. An audible form of feedback is when the music is playing, the headphones also give feedback when interacting with the volume control button there is an audible and physical response indicating the user has adjusted the volume.

Constraints come in a combination of Physical, Semantic, Cultural and Logical theories. Physical constraints create a semantic barrier, meaning an activity cannot be carried out. “Semantic constraints are those that rely upon the meaning of the situation to control the set of possible actions” Norman (2013 p. 129) An action should be done if it makes sense to do so. Cultural constraints mean we subconsciously abide by the suitable behavioural ways in social situations. Logical is a more technical constraint idea, if you are left with only one piece out of a puzzle but a suitable gap for this piece, logically that left over piece is constrained to fit.  Constraints are most commonly a physical matte. Referring to Apple music; you are constrained to the devices memory capacity, the devices Wi-Fi connection has to be compatible in order to download music and the album needs to be readily available on Apple music in order to be downloaded in the first place.

Conceptual Models “is an explanation, usually highly simplified, of how something works.” Norman (2013 p. 25) Instead of the complicated written manuals conceptual models are evident in the minds of the user, they indicate a simpler version of the system so that the user can have a more general understanding. I.e. when using your computer, you will place documents into a folder, this is a conceptual idea to help you understand and navigate the display however, there is no physical filing system behind the computer. Apple music use a similar idea of folders to organise the music into playlists and categories. When Browsing the music, you associate it with being on your device however it is in fact in the ‘Cloud’. Problems with conceptual models can occur when systems fail. The music on your device can be visually present on the device but may have not been downloaded, this then causes confusion as songs are then un-able to be played.

References:

Norman,D. (2013) The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books

 

The Social Construction of Gender

Gender design, un-noticeably everything around us has become specifically gendered. Branded spaces exhibit smells, colours and even lighting adjustments to appeal to a preference of gender. The question that now arises is, what specifically is defined as male and female and who of which determine these definitions Beauvoir (1949) says “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman…  it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature… which is described as feminine”. How did gender design become so specific, how were colours like blue and pink designated to male and female respectively. There has always been a segregation between genders, an example that comes to mind when thinking of the differences in responsibilities and status is among the architectural design world itself. A title of empowerment was often suggested for men. Design was a largely male dominated industry; it become common amongst all design sectors, but was especially visible amongst architects. Zaha Hadid, a recognisable woman for her incredible, talent and shear persistence to become a successful ‘Starchitect’- a term of which refers to architects who have a critical acclaim and have become idols amongst the architect world. She was initially recognised for her fantastic original sketches which began as of what could be classed as absurd and then developed into some of the most extreme architectural builds. Hadid is one of the only women to have won as many awards within the architectural sector and was a proven fact of how women can succeed. She proved to women that they are able to make a difference among the design world, they can create their own brand and stand strong on their own two feet. It can be said that “It’s a man’s world with one women” Booth (2016). It can be thought to be thankful that women started to contribute more to the design sector as there were design flaws amongst some masculine approaches to architecture. During the modernist era, designs lacked functionality for women and children. Women were faced with large industrial stairs of which they had to manipulate with their prams, practicality of these issues were just not addressed during design development. Men designed buildings with out thinking of aspects that women will struggle to manipulate around. This lecture made me think that we segregate far too much amongst a community, we give names to areas that have no relevance. For example, what’s to say women can’t wear blue and men can’t wear pink.

Bibliography

Beauvoir, S.D. (1949) The Second Sex. Trans. and ed. HM Parshley. New York: Knopf.

Booth, R. (2016) Architects speak out about industry sexism in tributes to Zaha Hadid, Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/apr/01/architects-speak-out-industry-sexism-tributes-zaha-hadid (Accessed: 18 April 2016)

Sparke, P. (1995) As long as it’s pink: The sexual politics of taste. United Kingdom: Pandora

Zaha Hadid Architects, (2016) Zaha Hadid Architects Available at: http://www.zaha-hadid.com/ (Accessed: 16 April 2016)

Narrative Design

“Narrative seems to be one of the main ways we construct our personal and group identities and how we get a picture of time. Combining stories with spaces brings together mind and body and offers endless creative possibilities for producing memorable human experience.” Tricia Austin CSM lecturer. Every individual interprets their own narrative, it can depend on emotions, pathways taken and many other factors. Spatial narrative is determined by architectural alignments and styles. Buildings relay many stories even those that are not visible. Stories of the Architects thought process, Stories of what existed before and now. The contribution of a persons own underlying story allows them to facilitate the narrative in their own way. As Peter Zumthor states “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” Zumthor (2006, P. 17) our own perspective of situations and designs can be contributed to by the surrounding environment, but everyone is each to their own. Whether buildings along a street have a stylistic connection or juxtapose from the surrounding façade they have an impressionable affect. Each create a visual connection of which contributes to the narrative of the street scape. When a place forms a particular narrative within a person it creates links to memorable information. “A ‘Sense of place’ the subjective and emotional attachment people have to place.” Cresswell (2004) arguably place is formed by the narrative impressions it has had among someone. They create mnemonic associations with the place from the way the space was interpreted before. I believe the narrative of architecture has much more depth and meaning when there is evidence of ‘palimpsest’ within the roots of the building. Palimpsest “Something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of it’s earlier form” Oxford Dictionary (2003) The layers show historical and cultural values which can be interpreted in many ways, they provide evidence of previous existence, and a basis for imaginary information.

The above image shows how a city can have various historical and cultural stories throughout the streets. St Pauls cathedral a medieval renaissance building designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren and completed construction in the 1711 is a remarkable landmark of the city. Directly to the east of the cathedral we see the eight-storey shopping and office complex, with staggering contrasting panels of thermo glass, the narrative within one photo is exceptional. The contrast of a modern shopping complex which inhabits various peoples’ stories against a beautifully crafted cathedral with years of history.

Bibliography

Cresswell, T., 2013. Place: A short introduction. John Wiley & Sons.

Urban 75 blog. (2011) Lesser known London viewpoints: the dramatic view from One New Change, St Pauls. Available at: http://www.urban75.org/blog/lesser-known-london-viewpoints-the-dramatic-view-from-one-new-change-st-pauls/ (Accessed: 13 April 2016)

Zumthor, P. (2006) Atmospheres: Architectural Environments-Surrounding Objects Switzerland: Birkhaüser

Counter-Terrorism

Designing for the application of anti-terrorism can be an arguable subject. Some believe that architects and cities should not conform with society threats. However, I think the idea of inclusive design, with the completion of purpose and creating an aesthetic function for the city is a more effective way of designing. There is no denying that terrorism is happening around us, it is an unfortunate and scary situation that is inevitable, why not create barriers which eliminate/minimise possible attacks. The RIBA have initiated proposals for architects and other designers to ensure correct consideration of counter-terrorism is included within their future design briefs for public access buildings and public open spaces. Ruth Reed, RIBA president comments that “The need to deliver good design that creates a sense of security without a siege of mentality” is an important design category during this current society. She also mentions how we are an inclusive society and interpreting these new requirements to our buildings eliminates, highlighting the intense security measures that surround, and can quite frankly be un-nerving (RIBA, 2010)

Cabot Circus, Bristol is an urban regeneration scheme in the heart of Bristol, that aimed to take the influence from out of town shopping centres back into the city. During the design process it was highlighted that areas of counter-terrorism need to be addressed to ensure the creation of a safer environment into the heart of the city. High risk areas were identified among the design plans and were specifically resolved. A central public space which was contained under a large glass canopy was positioned in the centre of three converging streets. To resolve this direct access anti hostile vehicle furniture was introduced onto the end of streets to become indestructible pillars that stop any vehicle access. Surrounding side streets were also re-aligned to ensure that direct lines to public spaces were in-achievable. Both of these methods minimise vehicular access, creating a safer environment. Whilst among the shopping centre all of these considerations are un-noticeable to the public eye, consumers feel within a safe environment with no obtrusive barriers and security measures. The bunker mentality can cause exclusion it can minimise access to public spaces and create fear and segregation. The question this all leads down to is why wouldn’t we design for aesthetically pleasing multi-functional uses, that are applicable for counter terrorism? It creates a better community feel amongst public spaces and also avoids vulnerability for attacks. In my mind this is undoubtedly a good design factor. It Lowers insecurity and provides an aesthetic finish among streets.

Bibliography

Royal Institute of British Architects (2010) Guidance on designing for counter-terroism London: RIBA