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UNIT 2.1 Exploring Physical and Virtual Information Environments

Changing the people's paths Daria Filatova MRes Information Environments

Abstract The city environment is often perceived by people as a boring and trivial landscape. The road to the office, university or to shop becomes something routine, and accepted as the fact of wasting time. Actually, the city — and especially pedestrian zones — are a place of active social life, where people meet, communicate, walk, think and so forth. Using such places in these ways can influence peoples' positive emotions as well as create an atmosphere of friendliness in the city for natives and foreigners, workers and travellers, the elderly and young people. Therefore, in this study, I investigate the relationship between pedestrians' behaviour in the built urban environment, and visitors' behaviour in the museum space. I consider the arguments that relate to each side and find common behaviour patterns. In this way, this research will become the background for further study, enabling me to understand the possibility of applying the experience of organising the exhibition space to the city environment.

Keywords/General Terms Meaningful path Visitors' path 'Walkthroughs' method

Introduction

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Modern cities are becoming more oriented to pedestrians. [15] Their infrastructure grows very quickly providing to residents more

and more opportunities. Wayfinding systems oriented to pedestrians have appeared in many major cities that encourage people to walk more. Therefore, it becomes a very relevant topic to attract pedestrians to certain parts of the city, as well as manage the flow of them. This often provides commercial advantages. The main purpose of pedestrian zones is organising the social life of the city. [15] This part of the urban environment forms an impression of the city, which creates the character and atmosphere of it. Planning for pedestrian areas is one of the most pressing problems in modern city planning in general. This research focused on one of the busiest places in London Euston Road. In the frame of this research the place is interesting as a street with a large flow of people. Mainly this is because of its nature as a complex transportation hub, which consists of three railway stations — King's Cross, St Pancras International and Euston Station — as well as five tube stations. All these involve huge pedestrian activity. Therefore, the place itself is very busy, with additionally a growing complex of buildings including the British Library and Wellcome Trust, and many more social infrastructures. [14] As it is evident from the projects on the place's development, this is the place of great interest. It can be seen from the development projects of Kings Cross railway station and the complex of the British Library that in all these projects, special attention is paid to the organisation of pedestrian routes. [3]


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Previous Work In a previous survey in Moscow on the theme of how people navigate through the urban space using various modes of transport, I found that people tend to stick to the main streets and most visible objects. [6] However, traveling by foot, while it seems important to think about the distance first, pedestrians do care about not getting lost and how easy to remember a route. In other words, in contradistinction to car navigation, pedestrians navigate by the urban environment as a whole, not by streets alone. [2] In some ways people tend to follow other people and move with the crowd, since they assume the crowd knows the right way and everybody cannot be wrong. But at the same time this can create a nervous and stressed emotional state, because people need the own space and freedom in movements and visibilities. In his book on behavior in the environment Altman used the concept of 'privacy'. Through this the '…individuals regulate their dealings with the social world and make themselves more accessible or less accessible to others'. Regarding to the flow of people, they have no enough space to move and for some of them it brings more interaction than they may want. In this way it means that '…crowding occurs when the behavioral mechanisms of personal space, territory and verbal and nonverbal behaviors were not used in a successful way to protect a person or group from undesired interaction…'. [1] From research on mobile technologies in the learning process during museum visits, and other related work in this field, people tend to pick the most personally interesting artifacts from the whole range of those presented in an exhibition, instead of devoting the same attention to each. [16] If we look at the city environment from the museum perspective, specific parts of this space similarly have value for us, and through chosen routes they are 'connected ... into a meaningful path'. [8] In a research paper by Cao, et al (2006) on the influences of the built environment on the behaviour of pedestrians, the authors distinguish two categories of pedestrian activity: travel to a

destination (walking for utilitarian purposes) and travel as an activity in and of itself (walking for its own sake). [4] This leads to differences in pedestrian types, and types of museum visitors, since in the urban space the destination is generally the most important aim of a trip rather than trip itself. But in the museum space the goal is the process of going through exhibition. However, this is not completely true, because we are interested in particular artifacts at the museum. So visitors of course need to walk from one to another. Therefore I can consider the museum visit as the set of repetitions of urban walking behaviour in a single trip. Research on forming personal paths in the museum space argued for the importance of educational and professional preferences in the process of museum visiting. [8] Regarding pedestrian behaviour, many researchers emphasise that attitude and lifestyle have a much greater effect. [10] In a paper investigating visitors' behaviour in the museum space, Kaynar argues that it is not always a matter of the goal of your visit (your background or your particular interests in this exhibition and artifacts), but to the same extent it is a matter of visibility and viewing angle in relation to artifacts. [10] In another words, even if pedestrians have a particular aim on a walk they also need to see a visible representation of this goal or related sub-goals. In the same research, the author applied a very interesting technique of investigation to visitors' paths, based on distinguishing angles in visitors’ trails that allowed the researcher to identify where visitors changed their directions. The important finding here is that if the visible space gives to people more freedom of movement, and visual boundaries are a factor, their 'way' would be freer than a path motivated by a need 'to discover new visual information'. This refers us to how 'visibility' in the museum environment affects visitors’ choice of trajectory of movements mentioned earlier. Through investigation of the museum space I found some work in the creation of visitors experience using different types of


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exhibition paths. Actually, this is always a major task for designing how an exhibition will be viewed. It can be a single path, which is very prescriptive and forces visitors to follow only one route. This is good for the learning process as a 'scaffolding' technique, but affords no freedom for visitors to create original experiences. [9] This is relevant to the urban pedestrian path. But could it be possible to gently deter people from a single path route? One year ago I wrote an article on the use of street art (graffiti) as the initial stages of a navigation system for the city. [5] In my opinion, that project can be used in this context. The main idea of my proposal was an opportunity to provide certain parts of the city to the students’ projects on street art theme. It was not an expensive or long-lasting project, but it would be interesting for students as an opportunity to exhibit their work in the city environment. Such projects attract attention and fill up the usual space with a new meaning. For example, a student project from Central St Martins MA Communication Design is on Abbey Road, with a Beatles theme using the original graffiti on the walls. A lot of relevant interesting projects of 3D street art are in the anamorphism technique reviving the ground surface, which is almost gray and made from simple flagstones and paving bricks or just plane asphalt. Project 'Slow City' of European Design Lab was, in this context, a very interesting idea on incorporating real art in urban public places. [11] Moreover, during each project it will be possible to investigate the behaviour of pedestrians and their reaction to the new 'meaning' of habitual usual space. This will provide new materials for the further research.

This raises the following sub-questions: Why do we need to change pedestrian behaviour in the urban environment? And is a museum strategy useful to influence pedestrian choice of a particular route?

Methodology I aim to test the assumption that visitors’ behaviour in the museum can be reconstructed as a model of pedestrian behaviour in the urban environment. The behaviour and types of visitors / pedestrians are very similar, but this model emerges from the experience that most people spend much less time in the museum than in urban space, and the museum context is smaller in scale then the environmental one. This is therefore an effective platform for the study of factors influencing pedestrian' behaviour. The findings from museums can be scaled to the city urban environment. To address these questions I use a flexible design strategy that includes more qualitative data than quantitative, since I investigate pedestrian behaviour. Therefore I build on the target observation as a part of a case study, as well as communication with subjects to identify their status as pedestrians, and supplement this with data from secondary sources. [12] For the preliminary research I used my video-recordings of three different parts of the street in the morning and evening. It allowed me to identify the major common features in the pedestrian' bebaviour in the street as I'll discuss further.

Preliminary Findings Research Questions The preceding review suggests the following research question: Viewing pedestrian behaviour from a museum perspective, can we influence a person's choice to follow a certain path?

After target observations on the site, it became clear that the people who fill the street are completely different, comprising both tourists and business people. But depending on time of day and day of the week the proportion of these people varies. I made a survey on the Euston Road it is clear to see that all parts of the street are not used by pedestrians equally. For example, all tube


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stations are located on one side of the street and pedestrians keep going by this side ignoring the opposite one. Although this 'attractive' side is wide enough in some places, the opposite side has the flow that is less at least in two times. [14] Considering the possibility of changing pedestrian behaviour in the context of route selection, I intend to use the term 'point of influence'. It will be used to identify the moments when a pedestrian (or visitor to the museum) decides which way to go. It may be at the time of route planning via Google Maps at home, or during the route. At any moment of pedestrians’ decision making we are able to some extent influence the choice of the route. However in this research I will limit the influence to the urban environment (or museum space) target area.

way, in the context of the urban path selection, we can influence people to make them constantly review the relevance of their earlier decisions regarding the particular path. An interesting example here is my own observation in the Flower Park in Amsterdam. This is a huge park with many footpaths. But there are a lot of people who do not stay on these footpaths, and part of adjoining lawn has been trampled. Therefore, a 30 cm wide strip of lawn was replaced with a new one. But the difference was so noticeable, the new lawn was so different from the older one by its rich and vivid color, that it influenced people to restrict their walk to the paths; this was much more effective than a fence or border. In other words, the same object at the same place but under another 'angle'.

An important aspect differentiating the museum space lies in the fact that most of us visit a specific exhibition only once (I do not take into account researches and other professionals). Therefore the 'point of influence' on the behaviour of the visitor has always a specific place to be, since this is generally a new space for everyone. But in the urban space the 'point of influence' is relevant only for new walkers, and for those already familiar with a particular environment this point is already in the past. However, if we consider the experience of the museum, the builging remains the same, and only changing exhibitions change visitors' perceptions of the space and the structure of it.

Further Research

Here I turn to the study of Shklovsky [13] on maintaining a constant concentration of the viewer. In the behaviour of pedestrians, many trivial actions (as well as in other activities) are performed automatically. Sometimes we cannot even remember whether we locked the door living home or not, for example. This can be explained by the fact that we have other, more serious thoughts in our mind. But still this phenomenon exists. In his study Shklovsky refers to Tolstoy who noticed the fact that sometimes we live long periods of our lives unconsciously. The definition of art, as described by the author, is when an ordinary and familiar subject can be shown at a 'different angle'. In this

We know the problem of peoples’ behavior in urban space and can assume the extent to which we can influence their behaviour; to the same extent this new type of behaviour will influence the city environment. In this iterative loop, the project can provide an opportunity to expand the boundary of pedestrians’ behaviour and create a friendly background for open conversation between people and environment planners to make a step towards a new kind of the 'city for people'. [7]

Regarding further study it will be useful to collect data from real participants (such as that already used to the museum environment utilising techniques to trace visitors' paths) as a part of action research. 'Walkthroughs' are a way of exploring human experience of the environment by allowing the researcher to document people’s activities in close connection with their physical presence in a locale. [8]

Conclusion


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References [1] Altman, I. (1984) Culture and Environment, Belmont: University Press

Cambridge

[8] Golightly, D., Rose, T., Wong, B.L.W., Light, A., (2007) Taking a walk: investigating personal paths in the museum space. Proceedings of the Conference on Creative Inventions, Innovations and Everyday Designs in HCI, London.

[2] Bogdahn, J., and Coors, V., (2009), Using 3D Urban Models for Pedestrian Navigation Support

[9] Hughes, P. Publishing Ltd.

[3] Booklet Delivering King’s Cross (2009). [Internet].

[10] Kaynar, I. (2004), Visibility, movement paths and preferences in open plan museums: An observational and descriptive study of the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum, University of Michigan, USA

<http://www.kingscrosscentral.com/file/122/Delivering King\'s Cross 2009/1268732391-Delivering_KX_2009-10_lo-res.pdf> [Accessed 03 July

(2010).

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[11] Miles, M. (2000) Art Space and the City. Public Art and Urban future. London: Routlege.

[4] Cao, X., Handy, S. L., Mokhtarian, P., (2006) The influences of the built environment and residential self-selection on pedestrian behavior: Evidence from Austin, TX Postprints, UC Davis

[12] Robson, C., (2002) Real World Research. Second Edition. Oxford.

[5]!"#$%&'$, (., (2010) )&*+&%&'"%,#-./, 0%$1/ C&2*$."3 4"25$#-.$3 6$'"+$7"3 (#3 ),8,9&*.&: ;&./ ' <=%&>"?,=@&A B,.%>, C&=@'/.4%&>&: .$5?./: D&>5A *"2$:.,>&', C&=@'$ (Filatova, D., (2010) Creating a Visual Navigation to the Pedestrian Zone in the Historical Center of Moscow. In: The 2nd Science Forum of Designers, Moscow) [6] Filatova, D., Pakhareva, S. (2009) A survey on people' navigation behavior in Urban space, comparing various modes of transport. [7] Gehl, J., (2010) Cities for People. England: Island Press

[13] Shklovsky, V. (1917) Art as Technique. Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays. In Lee, E., Lemon, T. and Reiss, M.J. Lincoln: Univ of Nebraska Press, 1965, 3-24 [14] Study observation of environment of Euston Road (24/03/2011 and13/04/2011). [15] Uhlig, K. (1979) Pedestrian Areas From Malls to Complete Networks. London: Academy Editions [16] Winters, N., Walker, K. and Roussos, G. Facilitating Learning in an Intelligent Environment London Knowledge Lab, UK

Changing the people's paths  
Changing the people's paths  

Paper on research relation between Museum space and Urban Environment

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