Friday, 18 February 2011

Building Envelope: Mediating crowding stress in the urban environment

The Whitechapel area is populated with three main social groups, all with their own movement patterns and desired personal space boundaries. Business, residential and tourist traffic all combines creating many undesired social collisions. This proposal aims to reduce these collisions through subtle environmental changes.

By manipulating the floor level and texture in order to provide direct pathways to the three main destinations; Brick Lane, The City and residential areas, it is hoped to be possible for users to predict others direction and speed therefore reducing bottle necking. The more manipulated areas provide space for semi-permanent occupation, the way in which the floor is lowered creates a space perceived as protected, therefore resulting in grouping.

The canopies interact with changing weather, deflecting water and therefore creating potential crowding areas beneath. The openness of the structure allows for groups to form without significantly increasing the perception of crowding, therefore opportunity for more controlled social interaction. Each canopy is angled in order to influence the users’ perception of space, which is hoped to affect their speed. In turn users are influenced to move under canopies which provide a space which suits their speed, sorting pathways organically.

The supporting poles break up the horizon, controlling vision, and give the impression of a room with no walls. These safe spaces are designed for moments of calm, to absorb the rushing user traffic and, for tourists, get their bearings. This natural grouping allows for a harmoniously co-occupied space. Where negative social interactions between business, tourist and residential user traffic are minimised and movement is more consistent.

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