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Putting People First

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Posts in category 'Architecture'

7 November 2007

Inhabiting places: User values in the built environment

Places
Theorists have long argued that two distinct concepts of value drive the production of the built environment: exchange value and use value.

In this article Joost Beunderman, a researcher at the UK think-tank Demos argues that, “if we would wish to favour the use value of places to the public over the financial value that space generates, then we cannot be satisfied at our current ways of planning towns and cities. Inhabiting places implies an active, creative and constantly changing relationship of the user to his or her environment – a more diverse category than shopping or buying a house. There are urgent reasons why we should put this enriched concept of use central, and make tangible steps to empower people’s relation to places.”

“In public services, the past period has seen a slow but steady trend towards ‘user-led design.’ It aims to spread new ‘operating systems’ for services such as social care, allowing people to become participants in shaping, commissioning and delivering the services they use, rather than passive and dependent recipients of what the system routinely provides. There is much that that we can learn from such concepts. The Demos study People Make Places showed how public spaces, in order to be successful, need to encourage people’s participation, rather than merely providing set-piece designs.”

Read full story

20 July 2007

Nicolas Nova talk now on Google Video

Nicolas Nova video
The video of last week’s talk by Nicolas Nova in Turin is now available on Google Video. The slides are available here (pdf, 1.36mb, 90 slides).

Nicolas Nova is a researcher at the Media and Design Lab at the Swiss Institute of Technology, Lausanne and one of the organisers of the LIFT conference.

His talk “Designing a new ecology of mixed digital and physical environments” was a critical overview of ubiquitous computing based on current research in the field (showing what people like Paul Dourish or Genevieve Bell are discussing but also geographers such as Stephen Graham), art/start-up/research projects and alternative visions such as what Nicolas is doing with Julian Bleecker.

The talk was organised by Experientia and the Order of Architects of the Province of Turin.

(Thanks to Experientia collaborator Haraldur Már Unnarsson for making this possible).

10 July 2007

Cameron Sinclair’s Open Architecture Network [Business Week]

OAN
Like AdSense, which has given Madison Avenue executives the collective jitters, the Open Architecture Network (OAN) suggests that 2.0′s cocktail of collaborative technologies can have an equally radical influence on business and industry practices. In the case of the OAN, the industry in question is architecture.

The OAN is a free, Web-based network that’s part database of architectural projects, part design tool, and part community, and its ambitious goal is to improve the living standards of 5 billion people—a number that includes not just the 1 billion people living in abject poverty today, but the one in three people who, by 2020, will be living in slums. It’s a goal that Cameron Sinclair, the architect-cum-activist who spearheaded the site, knew could only be achieved by tapping the collective intelligence of the Web.

- Read full story
- View slideshow

1 July 2007

Nicolas Nova lectures in Turin, Italy – 12 July

Nicolas Nova
Nicolas Nova, Swiss Federal Research Institute (CH)
Designing a new ecology of mixed digital and physical environments

12 July 2007 – 7pm
Order of Architects of the Province of Turin
via G. Giolitti 1 – Torino – 3rd floor

Nicolas Nova will give a critical overview of the evolution towards “hybridised environments”, i.e. mixed physical and digital ecologies, sometimes also identified as media spaces, mixed realities, ubiquitous computing, and lifelogging realities. He will describe the systems as well the underlying technologies needed to support them, with a strong focus on how to best address people’s needs and enhance their lives. Examples such as lab projects, start-up products and art pieces will help outline the main trends and applications to expect in the near future. Nova will discuss the implications of this evolution for designers, architects and engineers on issues such as the user experience, the practice changes and the challenges to be solved.

Nicolas Nova is a researcher at the Media and Design Lab of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne where he completed a Ph.D in human-computer interaction. His research focuses on spatial and location-awareness, location-based, virtual and tangible gaming experiences, and the hybridisation of digital and physical environments. He is a co-producer of the highly acclaimed, and internationally prestigious LIFT conference in Geneva, which this year was attended by over 500 participants. He blogs at Pasta and Vinegar about emerging technologies usage and foresight.

The lecture, which will be in English, is jointly organised by Experientia and the Order of Architects of the Province of Turinthe organisation which by the way is also responsible for next year’s UIA World Congress of Architecture. Additional communication support is provided by the design community TURN.

RSVP: architettitorino at awn dot it

1 July 2007

Jyske, the Danish experience bank

Jyske Bank
Jyske Bank, Denmark’s third largest financial institution, invested last year 400 million Danish kroner (equivalent to 54m euro or 72m USD) to redesign and brand their bank as an experience bank.

Excerpted from the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies:

Jyske Bank recently fundamentally changed its business concept, so the customer can put together his own banking solution. The bank has focused on the product experience, both “virtually” and in the branch. The bank calls the initiative “Jyske Difference” ["Jyske Forskelle"] and their slogan is “Jyske is the bank that makes a difference.”

In the short process (four months) during which the new business concept has been developed and partially implemented, the bank has been especially inspired by the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies‘ thoughts on Creative Man and the individualization megatrend. As they write to FO/futureorientation:

“Many consumers see banks and bank products as uniform – and a little boring. At the same time, we see that customers are changing behavior. They want more influence; they are more self-reliant while demanding personal service. The creative consumer, who wishes to create his or her own solution, is the coming thing. Consumers want to tailor their own charter vacations, car, and bank product. With the new initiative, the bank can better meet the modern consumer types of the present. With Jyske Difference, Jyske Bank signals that we are more than a bank. Jyske Bank is a bank, a store, and a modern library. Jyske Bank is the place where customers become smarter, inspired, and experience a straightforward atmosphere.”

See also this concept presentation video (2:49).

At the end of August Frank Pedersen, communication- and marketing director at Jyske Bank, will explain what they did and what the result was one year after, at Motion, the brand new experience economy conference in Norway.

26 June 2007

The Slow Home movement

Slow Home
Following the Slow Food movement’s recent expansion into the areas of urban planning (“Slow City“) and design (“Slow Design“), the newest Slow area are is the home. WorldChanging reports:

The newest slow kid on the block is the Slow Home movement, a web-based design community and resource library dedicated to taking residential architecture back from the grip of the “cookie cutter houses and instant neighborhoods” churned out by community-blind development corporations, to revive the presence of good design and empower individuals to create homes that will support and fulfill them for a long time. It’s a sustainable approach in that — like with all products — a commodity that is longlasting both in terms of material quality and evolving personal taste can prevent waste and produce trusting relationships between people and their environment.

Read full story

9 June 2007

Telling stories in public spaces, museums, and over the internet – often simultaneously

Miners
Jake Barton runs a design firm in New York called Local Projects. They call themselves ‘media designers’, as they work at the intersections between broadcast media, interactive media, architecture and physical space, explore innovative interfaces in physical space, hybridising between physical interfaces and online interfaces, and have been particularly engaged in collaborative storytelling projects.

Barton was one of the many speakers at Postopolis!, a five-day event of near-continuous conversation about architecture, urbanism, landscape, and design, at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York. Postopolis! was organised by BLDDBLOG, City of Sound, Inhabitat, Subtopia and the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, and ran from May 29th-June 2nd 2007.

Dan Hill, former head of interactive technology and design at the BBC and currently director of web and broadcast at Monocle, has done a tremendous job reporting on all the Postopolis! presentations (all posts here) on his great blog City of Sound.

In his talk, Barton describes several of his recent people-driven projects that to me seem very relevant to be featured in this experience design blog:

  • Miners Story Project – to preserve and share stories about life in mines and mining communities in the Southwest US;
  • Storycorps – a national US project to instruct and inspire people to record one another’s stories in sound;
  • Timescapes – a giant 3-screen projection that enables people to approach the city itself [New York] from different angles simultaneously;
  • Public Information Exchange – an initiative of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects aimed at fostering proactive dialogue between all those involved in public architecture.

In a concluding remark, Hill describes the Local Projects’ approach as “rooted, considered, elegantly open, and specific to the problem at hand” which provides “an imaginative yet pragmatic illustration of the potential in the overlap between physical and digital spaces”.

Read full story

2 June 2007

Web 2.0 is the web as it was originally envisioned – the internet of things is the real departure

The interactive city
The term Web 2.0 was dreamed up to describe community-driven phenomena such as blogs and wikis and the enormously priced businesses they inspired. But not everyone is buying into the label, writes David Reid of BBC News.

Participants at a recent Web 2.0 conference organised by Nomades Advanced Technologies Interactive Workshops (NATIW) [blog] in Geneva, Switzerland were scratching their heads as to what it all means.

Among them were some pretty wily web veterans, including a member of the team from Europe’s Nuclear Research Centre (Cern) that actually invented the web.

Web 2.0 may not be the different species some claim, but sort of what they had in mind from the start.

“The original slogan was always to have a web that was easy to write as it was to read,” said Robert Cailliau of the World Wide Web Consortium.

“We went through a sort of dark ages where the ideas survived, but the technology needed to catch up, so where we are now is indeed the point at which the people take control of the web, make their input, which is what we originally wanted.

“Our idea was for a web that was as easy to write as to read.”

The article then continues on how the concept of user-generated content is also having an impact outside the internet, and particularly on architecture, with some designers now “putting the people in charge of changing the look of buildings”, with the “internet of things” becoming “the real departure from the original vision of the web’s founders.”

Examples of this approach featured in the article are:

Read full story

26 April 2007

The infrastructure of experience and the experience of infrastructure

Planning and Design
In “The infrastructure of experience and the experience of infrastructure: meaning and structure in everyday encounters with space” Intel‘s chief anthropologist Genevieve Bell and UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish explore space as an infrastructure for our lived experience of the world, and discuss the ways in which pervasive computing transforms this experience.

The paper was published in the latest issue of Planning and Design – a theme issue on “space, sociality, and pervasive computing“.

Abstract

Although the current developments in ubiquitous and pervasive computing are driven largely by technological opportunities, they have radical implications not just for technology design but also for the ways in which we experience and interact with computation. In particular, the move of computation `off the desktop’ and into the world, whether embedded in the environment around us or carried or worn on our bodies, suggests that computation is beginning to manifest itself in new ways as an aspect of the everyday environment.

One particularly interesting issue in this transformation is the move from a concern with virtual spaces to a concern with physical ones. Basically, once computation moves off the desktop, computer science suddenly has to be concerned with where it might have gone. Whereas computer science and human – computer interaction have previously been concerned with disembodied cognition, they must now look more directly at embodied action and bodily encounters between people and technology.

In this paper, we explore some of the implications of the development of ubiquitous computing for encounters with space. We look on space here as infrastructure—not just a technological infrastructure, but an infrastructure through which we experience the world. Drawing on studies of both the practical organization of space and the cultural organization of space, we begin to explore the ways in which ubiquitous computing may condition, and be conditioned by, the social organization of everyday space.

I am also quoting one synthesising paragraph from halfway into the paper:

What we are suggesting then is an alternative model of space and spatiality than that which dominates current discourse in the design of pervasive-computing technologies and environments. Pervasive computing brings computation out of the traditional desktop and into the spaces beyond; but the critical feature of these spaces is that they are always already populated and inhabited. More to the point, the experience of space is the experience of multiple infrastructures — infrastructures of naming, of movement, of interaction, etc — and these infrastructures emerge from and are sustained by the embodied practices of the people who populate and inhabit the spaces in question. Spaces are not neutral, and their complex interpretive structure will frame the encounter with pervasive computing; as, by the same token, the opportunities afforded by new technologies allow for a reinterpretation and reencounter with the meaning of space for its inhabitants. Fundamentally, the experience of space is coextensive with the cultural practice of everyday life.

I highly recommend reading this paper, although quite conceptual at times , and to savour their thoughts on for instance the importance of ‘seamful’ design (as opposed to seamless computing), “allowing technologies to make boundaries and seams visible”.

(Last year, Bell and Dourish wrote another very good paper together which provided a people-centred critique of the current ubiquitous computing paradigm.)

Download paper (pdf, 173 kb, 18 pages)

(via Peter Dalsgaard)

30 March 2007

Yale symposium on experience design and architecture from a critical perspective

Market of Effects Symposium
Former Interaction-Ivrea colleague Molly Wright Steenson asked me to alert my readers about this Yale symposium on experience design and architecture. Of course I gladly comply out of affection for Molly and because worked in both fields (I actually worked full time in a New York architecture firm for three years, handling their business development).

Market of Effects Symposium

From “Imagineers” to “Futurologists”, from ethnographic research to product branding, architectural designers are evermore concerned with the production of entertaining, interactive, and variable experiences through spatial, surface and material effects. These trends parallel last decade’s identification of the “Experience Economy” and its materialization in the fields of “experience design” and “experience architecture.” Formulated in the late 90s, this economic model is characterized by a progression away from subsistence commodities to a service-based economy, resulting in the trade of service experiences appealing to consumers’ emotions and feelings. Through the thematizing of user needs and the theatrical presentation of the currencies of memory, image, sensorial satisfaction and mass-customization, architecture has responded to market forces with projects that merge technology, narrative and dynamic effects in the built environment.

“The Market of Effects” will serve as a critical forum in which to explore the history, articulation and future of the experience economy in relation to architectural and urban design. The symposium solicits proposals that examine or critique designs that combine interactive and variable effects, the engagement with extra-visual sensation, the layering of data, and the appeal to individual taste and identity to construct a personalized point of sale via the built environment.

Full programme and registration information

(I just hope that Molly will post something online afterwards, like presentations, audio or video, so we can all share in the fun.)

20 March 2007

Singapore Management University designing campus IT around the user

Singapore Management University
Jonathan Hopfner writes in Managing Information Systems (MIS) how Singapore Management University used the opportunity of an impeding move to a new city-centre campus as a chance to design all the IT infrastructure around the user.

With providing an “interactive, participative and technologically-enabled learning experience” at the heart of the university’s philosophy, SMU’s Office of Communications and IT wanted “pedagogy [to] drive the classroom design, including the technology, not the other way around.”

The IT office went on a study tour “to find out how some of the top universities in the United States put the latest equipment and software to use”. This allowed them to draw up tentative classroom designs, which were evaluated by special interest groups of professors of all the SMU Schools.

Then they created a prototype, “an experimental teaching facility, where design ideas could be tested and put through their paces”.

The article also describes some of the innovative technological solutions that came out of this user-driven design process.

Read full story

23 January 2007

Catching the Bus: Studying People and Practices at Intel

Ken Anderson
In a talk given at the UCI Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction on Friday 19 January, the anthropologist Ken Anderson (bio – manager of People and Practices Research at Intel) discusses Intel’s work at understanding mobility and spatiality in urban and transnational settings, which is being carried out in support of ongoing interests in mobile and ubiquitous computing.

People and Practices Research (PaPR) is a group within Intel Research that engages the techniques of social science and design in order to develop a deep understanding of how people live and work. PaPR undertakes a wide range of projects in collaboration with universities, Intel business groups and other parts of Intel Research.

The presentation can be seen in video which can be downloaded from the UCI website, but be warned: it is huge (387.4 mb) and you need to download the entire file before you can view anything. The audio and video quality unfortunately leave to be desired.

(via Fabien Girardin‘s blog 7.5th Floor)

3 October 2006

2008 World Congress of Architecture in Torino

UIA World Congress logo
Those of you who read this blog regularly, know that now and then I plug interesting initiatives from my home town Torino.

“After Barcelona, Berlin, Beijing and Istanbul, the worldwide community of architects is set to meet in Turin, Italy, between 29 June and 3 July 2008, on occasion of the 23rd International Union of Architects World Congress.”

“For the first time since 1948 an Italian city is to host this important international event, choosing as its overall theme Transmitting Architecture: architecture which communicates and is communicated, in all manners and in all locations, involving every aspect of a profession which deals, on a daily basis, with the quality of life, the landscape and the environment. Ten thousand architects and architecture students are awaited from around the world.”

Transmitting Architecture; communicating in order to increase the knowledge of, awareness of and demand for high quality architecture amongst a wide an audience as possible, which in turn will be encouraged to participate in an active and dynamic manner.”

- Event website
- Read background article

1 October 2006

Book: Creativity and the City

Creativity and the City
Creativity and the City is the title of a new book, edited by Simon Franke and Evert Verhagen, on how the how the creative economy is changing the city, particularly in the Netherlands.

“The creative class and the creative city are two notions which have also recently forged a path to politicians and opinion-leaders in the field of urban society in the Netherlands.”

“This development presents myriad new opportunities for cities: redevelopment of former industrial zones, new business activity in the old city centres and new jobs.”

“The book describes all these opportunities and the consequences for the spatial development of the city; at the same time it also warns about the dangers of this creating a new élite of people who isolate themselves from those who miss the boat.”

“The new developments are considered in a series of 15 articles, describing the political, social and societal consequence and analysing the resulting spatial developments. Lastly, the book contains many tips for practical urban policy. Creativity and the City is a book for a broad group of politicians, policy-makers, urban planners, economists and sociologists. It includes contributions from Richard Florida, Charles Landry, the independent Dutch thinktank Nederland Kennisland (Knowledgeland), Jeroen Saris, Arnold Reijndorp, Robert Kloosterman, Nachtwacht Amsterdam (Amsterdam’s ‘Night-time Mayor’), John Thackera and others.”

1 October 2006

Healthcare facilities that invite

Healthcare design
Allison Arieff of the New York Times writes this week on the on the massive design shortcomings of modern health care facilities on her restricted blog Living Design. She says:

“A recent eight-year study at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands (pdf, 3.1 mb, 34 slides), in the Netherlands, concluded that “hospitals are built catastrophes, anonymous institutional complexes run by vast bureaucracies, and totally unfit for the purpose they have been designed for.” The study recommended radical solutions, like shopping-mall-inspired models for future healthcare facilities and the creation of wellness centers (much like ancient public baths). More specifically, the study advocates things like “dayrooms that invite” (rooms in patient wings that serve as centers of community activity, featuring things like morning coffee, fireplaces and a piano — can you imagine?); cafes that serve hospital employees as well as the neighborhood; open-air courtyards; light-filled corridors that encourage socialization and, most importantly, are easy to navigate. (The findings from this project are gathered together in the smartly written and beautifully designed book, “The Architecture of Hospitals.”)

(via Scott Smith’s blog Smartspace)

10 September 2006

Library 2.0 [Library Journal]

A library
The heart of Library 2.0 is user-centered change,” write Michael E. Casey and Laura C. Savastinuk in Library Journal.

“It is a model for library service that encourages constant and purposeful change, inviting user participation in the creation of both the physical and the virtual services they want, supported by consistently evaluating services. It also attempts to reach new users and better serve current ones through improved customer-driven offerings. Each component by itself is a step toward better serving our users; however, it is through the combined implementation of all of these that we can reach Library 2.0.”

“While not required, technology can help libraries create a customer-driven, 2.0 environment. Web 2.0 technologies have played a significant role in our ability to keep up with the changing needs of library users. Technological advances in the past several years have enabled libraries to create new services that before were not possible, such as virtual reference, personalized OPAC interfaces, or downloadable media that library customers can use in the comfort of their own homes. This increase in available technologies gives libraries the ability to offer improved, customer-driven service opportunities.”

Read full story

18 August 2006

Two new thematic Experientia blogs

Experientia
Experientia, the international experience design consultancy, launches today two new thematic blogs:

E-Democracy is aimed at public authorities. It gathers information on citizen participation and the use of web 2.0 technologies in the websites of public authorities, public administrations and local governments. Although it has some overlap with Putting People First, it has a lot of original material and I will maintain it regularly.

Playful & Tangible is about playful learning with new interfaces, particulary in museums and entertainment environments. It documents many inspirations and examples of playful and tangible interactions and interfaces, and has a strong interaction design focus. Initially developed as an internal working blog to document some interesting museum and entertainment interfaces, we decided to make the blog public. As an internal blog, it quotes richly from other sources and we are very grateful to our main inspirations: Régine Debatty of we-make-money-not-art, Chris O’Shea of Pixelsumo and Ruairi Glynn of Interactive Architecture. We have added the original source links throughout the blog. The blog is currently maintained by Mark Vanderbeeken of the Italy-based experience design company Experientia, though most of the content was selected by Héctor Ouilhet and Alexander Wiethoff, who worked as Experientia interns during the summer of 2006.

Each blog has about 50 posts at the moment.

7 August 2006

Planning Portal – enabling transformational government

Planning Portal
Planning Portal is not only a successful example of technology enablement in service delivery but could prove to be a tremendous asset for local authorities in their quest to develop and deliver citizen centric services, says eGov monitor.

Just under two years ago, the [UK] Government unveiled its ambition to develop a world class e-Planning Service which would deliver new, more efficient ways of enabling the community to engage in a shared vision for their local area.

This new service would also enable access to high quality, relevant information and guidance as well as streamlined processes for sharing and exchanging information amongst key players.

Since then, e-Planning has made significant progress towards meeting its goals, and it has been recognised as one of the major successes of technology aided service delivery. This is especially true for the Planning Portal, which continues to improve itself and has been recognised through numerous awards.

Read full story

27 July 2006

Experientia talk: “Innovation in Museum Design” by Arch. Stephen Rustow

Stephen Rustow
Last week Experientia organised a talk on the current trends in museum design by the architect Stephen Rustow.

From 1983 to 1995, Rustow was lead planner, programmer and senior designer on the expansion and reorganisation of the Louvre Museum in Paris with I. M. Pei & Partners. From 1999 he led the work on the renovation and expansion of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in association with Taniguchi Associates in Tokyo. He is now the founding principal of SRA, a specialised multidisciplinary consulting practice working with museums, private collections and architects to plan, programme and design the presentation of cultural collections.

Stephen Rustow used the MoMA and Louvre examples as illustrations of the main models in contemporary museum design:

“The one model is the idea of ‘bringing the merchants into the temple’, so bringing the retail, the restaurants, the sales, the parties to the museum in order to sustain the art activity. The other version is to take the art out of the temple and to make the temple void and to create a kind of ‘Kunsthalle’, where the museum does not exist as a repository of a collection, but as a space where shows are made and things are constantly renewed.”

“This has brought us in a contradiction. On the one hand you have examples such as the Louvre and the MoMA which are subsidising their art and art collecting activity by bringing in other cultural and non-cultural activities to the museum, and on the other hand buildings which were historically built as museum, but have essentially been emptied of their collections in order to renew themselves each time.”

At the end of Stephen Rustow’s 25 minute talk, Jan-Christoph Zoels and Yaniv Steiner of Experientia briefly presented some examples of playful and tangible interfaces and learning environments in museum and exhibition contexts.

The selected group of invitees were all people involved with museum design, museum management and cultural policy in Torino, who are now facing the challenge of maintaining the cultural and urban momentum the city gained during the recent Winter Olympics also in the years to come, especially in view of its selection as the 2008 World Capital of Design and the planned celebrations for the 150th birthday of the unification of Italy in 2011.

Watch Stephen Rustow presentation: part 1part 2part 3

10 July 2006

The dance of people in public spaces [The New York Times]

Grand Central notes
Last year architect and set designer David Rockwell was hired to design the “interior experience” (arrival, departure, retail space) of the new JetBlue terminal being built at JFK Airport, writes Jesse Green in the New York Times (as reported by Christopher Fahey in Signal vs. Noise).

Looking for a new angle on movement vs. environment, Rockwell took a strange turn: He hired choreographer Jerry Mitchell to help him.

The duo started out by looking at what they considered well choreographed spaces in New York, like the Grand Foyer at Radio City Music Hall, Grand Central Station, and Union Square.

The New York Times article “Passengers May Pirouette to Gate 3” (permanent link) examines the collaboration and takes a look at the dance of people in public spaces. There’s also an accompanying audio slide show that looks at the process and its results.