The travelator builds upon the already existing elevators in the residential complex Domus Vista in Frederiksberg. We have chosen to augment the experience of using the elevator, by providing screens on the interior and exterior walls of the elevator. What is shown on these screen is supposed to ground conversations in and around the elevator and solve the problem of lack of communication among the residents in the complex.
The Travelator was developed through co-design with stakeholders from an elderly residential complex in Copenhagen, Denmark. These stakeholders were retired citizens who lived in a tall complex and framed a community mainly consisting of senior citizens. The main goal of the project was highly focused on experimental application of methods and techniques learned within the fields of Participatory Design and Co-design. Another part of the project was to create a working prototype that should function as an exhibit at a final exhibition.
As our case was tied to a specific area in Copenhagen, the first step was to get to Domus Vista and begin an initial field research. We arranged a guided tour of the area with our contact-person, Anna, to get an idea of how the physical surroundings might play a role in the given problem statement. This field research gave us a first impression of the area, but also an idea of the people living there, which helped us define our target group for participation in the co-design project.
The Travelator was developed in the class called ‘Co-design and Qualitative Methods’ and created with my fellow students Justin Daneman, Casper Hamalainen, Mads Nedergaard and Jonas Haugesen at the IT University of Copenhagen in Fall 2014. The concept is developed through Co-design with senior residents living in a complex called ‘Domus Vista’ in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“This is exactly what I had envisioned!”
Sigrid – Co-designer
“I like that I can see my decisions and opinions in your work”
Aase – Co-designer
Playing with a die
We introduced a design game for the participants that consisted of a die with different statements on each side. As we introduced the die, which allowed for a hands-on experience, the participants got more engaged in the process and understood what to do.
We got a better understanding of the daily communication in the building and it uncovered some key areas where the communication in the community could be improved through our design. These areas were the supermarket, the atrium and the elevator. We chose to focus on strengthening the communication in the building. We got the impression that even though many elements of the community worked well, the area in and around the elevator was suffering from a lack of communication. Also, a few of the participants suggested designing and working with the elevator – an area where almost all residents spent time together no matter age or acquaintances.
We decided to direct the methods towards developing a concept related to the elevator. This, of course, required proper preparation and brainstorming before the actual encounter took place. This was done through a thorough brainstorming process, where we elaborated on how we could enhance the user experience of the elevator and engage the users in communicating with each other. The brainstorm led to several ideas on how to augment the experience of taking the elevator. Here, ideas of sound, light and images arose and were further developed into three directions that were all meant to evoke conversation between residents in the complex.
The three concepts were
The Travel Elevator, The Quiz Elevator, The Quote Elevator:
The travel elevator shows different parts of the world for the users to explore
The quiz elevator presents various questions to the users
The quote elevator presents quotes that could be reflected and talked about
Once we had reduced the brainstorm to the three evocative concepts, we were ready to think of how to approach these ideas in the encounter. We determined that use of a wide range of design materials would allow for proper idea development and engagement from the participants. In the preparation of the design props, we put emphasis on making them as open and evocative as possible. In other words, we made the foundation, but the participants were to lay the bricks so to say. Had we made the props too didactic, we would have limited their imagination too much.
After an initial exercise where the participants designed and envisioned the physical and temporal form of the small scale elevator, we moved on to a small scale enactment with the use of improvised doll scenarios. This method was used to give the participants an opportunity to stage and act out their visions using dolls (Brandt et al., 2013). To help the participants relate to the personas of the dolls, they were asked to choose the looks and personalities of the dolls. By allowing them such personal expression, we found that the participants recreated traits from their own style onto their doll, and this ensured a committed doll play, as can be seen in figure 666. In addition, we also made our own personas through the use of dolls and acted along. The doll play scenarios were highly useful for letting the participants understand the idea and possibilities with the enactment method, but they were also functioning as a stepping stone for the following embodied enactment.
The method was used by acting out the situation with a cardboard mock-up of the elevator. We used the method known as ‘bodystorming’ where the co-designers act as users and ‘bodystorm’ using simple mock-ups or prototypes (Brandt et al., 2013). To do this, we used the elevator mock-up as the imagined space for interaction. We used bodystorming as it was important to stage the setting of the elevator to constitute the interaction situation properly (Westerlund, 2009, as cited in Brandt et al., 2013). The mock-up was almost full size and this allowed us to do a full scale enactment. We did not only set the stage for the participants to act on, we also provided materials so that they could prototype the look and functionality of the concept. This made it easier for the participants to communicate and explore their thoughts and ideas and for us as designers to understand them.
We primarily used the mock-up and prototyping techniques for envisioning the physical and temporal form of the design. Bodystorming was of course contributing to getting the idea of the in-situ enactment, but we also found it important to implement scenarios in our enactment. The scenarios helped get a more broad idea of the possible situations that could arise around the elevator. We also decided to use the designers as a part of these possible scenarios, so that we could act out scenarios with different types of personas. These personas could for instance be a teenager using a smartphone or a new resident.
By using the enactment methods, we achieved several goals. Firstly, we tried out how the users would interact with the design. Secondly, we managed to get the users to take control of the looks and temporalities of the design and hereby ensure that the participants had a say in how the concept was formed. In our case, the enactment with a prototype allowed for co-construction and mutual learning by “[…] sharing concrete experiences of a new imagined artefact”, as Bratteteig et al. (2013) put it. Thirdly, we ensured common reflection which can be seen as a ‘reflection-in-action’. This term is used and defined by Donald Schön (1996) and describes the situation where the designers constantly evaluate and work reflectively while designing. These reflections have the advantage of providing new insights and improvements that can be adjusted while doing the enactment. There is a clear interplay between reflection and action and this is one of the obvious advantages with enactment that made the method effective for us to use.
The exterior screen to The Travelator is placed directly beside the entrance to the elevator. Here, the user is presented with a picture showing part of a major monument or recognizable landscape from somewhere in the world. This picture is meant to introduce what will be presented inside the elevator, and to build anticipation and curiosity. It is not supposed to be easy for the user to recognize the location of the photo.The interior of the elevator has screens that are placed on the uppermost part of the left and right walls in the elevator, minimizing obstruction to the view of the users due to their height. These screens elaborate on the picture presented on the exterior screen, and show different wide angle images from the same location as shown on the exterior screen. At this point, it should be considerably easier for the users to guess the location.