The presence of others who see what we see and hear what we hear assures us of the reality of the world and of ourselves.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Designing for Patient Dignity

For the last months our team (Slider Studio, Azhar Architects and manufacturer Grant Westfield) has been involved in the programme "Design for Patient Dignity" - the Department of Health asked the Design Council to bring designers, manufacturers and frontline NHS staff together to see if they could come up with new ideas that would help the NHS improve hospital environments and the experiences of patients.

Our brief
Design a more dignifying toileting and washing experience in hospital.

Using the toilet and bathroom in hospital poses a particular set of problems and potential embarrassments for many patients, and is often cited as a key argument in the case for same-sex accommodation. If facilities are difficult to access or use, it can make patients feel that their dignity is compromised.

During various hospital visits we found that toilets and bathrooms in hospitals are extremely stressful places, contributing to an undignified experience. To name some of the problems: no mirror above the basin, but instead a visually cluttered space with various soaps, towels, bings etc, no place to put your personal things. Slider Studio developed a Mirror in parallel with ongoing research into ambient assisted living technologies while Azhar focused on prefabricated washrooms. 

In short, the Smart Mirror reorganises the washbasin space in hospital bathrooms and toilets into one prefabricated product that can be retrofitted. It has a large mirror to bring domestic familiarity to the hospital environment, slimline wall- hung storage, integrated lighting, a shaver socket, a waste bin and a grab rail that can also function as a towel hanger. Storage for soap, conditioner and paper towels is integrated and an electronic indicator tells cleaning staff what needs refilling. The exhibited prototype marks our first step of the journey.

Capsule Washroom and Smart Mirror from Design Council on Vimeo.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Loose Space Encounters

"In urban public spaces around the world people pursue a very rich variety of activities originally not intended for these locations. Sometimes these activities occur along with the primary, intended uses. Many of the activities that generate the looseness are neither productive nor reproductive - being instead a matter of leisure, entertainment, self expression or political expression, reflection and social interaction. Loose spaces allow for the chance encounter." (Franck, Stevens 2007)

Cities variety of public space extends the right to carry out one´s desired actions while recognizing the presence and rights of others (Lynch 1981; Carr 1992). Right to the city encompasses the right to freedom, individualisation. Different groups have various perspectives on the use of public space, sometimes resulting in tension and conflict. However tension is not always conflictive or necessarily bad while it provides an opportunity for awareness of the relationship between different groups concerning public space. 

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Qualities that define Public Space

I am currently reading Ali Madanipour´s new book "Whose Public Space?" (2010, Routledge). The book in general investigates the making of public space through analysing the process of urban design and development. It is argued that public spaces should be accessible and developed through inclusive processes. Public spaces need to support certain qualities such as physical access, social access, access to activities and discussions, or inter-communications; and access to information. The first and second quality are most obvious - physical access refers to physical environment which everybody is entitled to be physically present; and second quality, social access, involves the presence, suggesting who is, and is not welcome in that space. The social image and ambient of the place can make the space more welcoming, less intimidating to wider range of groups. The third quality refers to place where the activities and discussions on its (public space) development and use processes are open to all. Thus it can be said that the "public space" is the place where public authorities are responsible for guaranteeing the existence of arena where citizens can express their attitudes, assert their claims etc.Through this function the arena enables the meaning of public space to express needs, interests, negotiate and understand. And finally the fourth quality - access to information - allows us to define the the public space as the place where information regarding its development and use processes is available to all members of society.


Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Monitoring Divison of Space

"Have you ever felt the urge to look inside, when walking down a narrow street and passing in front of a door that is ajar or a window that is half-lit? Have you wondered what lies behind curtains that are drawn, gates that are shut, walls that are high? Have you thought about how objects, signs and symbols may invite you to one place and bar you from another? From inside the buildings, have you spent time standing in front of a window, watching the world go by from detached, safe distance, or wishing to go to the open spaces outside, meeting your friends in public spaces or just joining the crowd of strangers?" (Madanipour 2003)

If we monitor our individual everyday routines, one defining features of these routines is how we live in and pass through private and public spaces, feel and behave accordingly. If we monitor the spaces, we see how they are structured around a separation of public and private. One of the defining features of urban space is the movement divison and control. The way space is subdivided is a mirror of social relations between individuals and groups. In response the divison of space affects indviduals'  mental states, regulates their behaviour. Why do we subdivide the city into public and private? Why to we tend to talk about private and public in binary terms: it is either or? Or are we labelling everything that is not private (privately owned) public...

Monday, 8 March 2010

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Transforming Building Centre Cafe to Collaboration Cafe

Last month I was busy designing the exhibition  "Collaboration Cafe" in Building Centre Cafe, London. The exhibition marks the last month of 18-month long R&D program to develop StickyWorld - project review and exhibition platform for creative business and education. The basic idea of StickyWorld is to create virtual rooms where people can pin up work, present, mark-up and comment, all using virtual sticky notes.  

My task as was to transform the daily Building Centre Cafe to Collaboration Cafe with vinyl graphics and user/function-centered table tops.
"Open for business throughout March, the Collaboration Café forms the final component of research and development led by Slider Studio and supported by Edward Cullinan Architects, HTA, Make, Scott Brownrigg and University of East London. The focus of the research, which is part funded by the Technology Strategy Board, has been to develop StickyWorld - a web based project review and exhibition platform for creative business and education. Through the Collaboration Café, the project opens its doors to the public, further enquiring about the nature of collaboration in education, practice, with clients and communities."

StickyWorld featured in: