Macleod is a leafy middle suburb, approximately 15 kilometres from Melbourne CBD. The station is located on the opposite side of a park from the small village-like shopping strip. Macleod College (P-12), kindergarten, YMCA and Banyule Nets Stadium are all adjacent. During the weekday morning peak platform 1 (to the city) sees approximately 8 trains per hour (24 departures between 5.51am and 9.01am). At least 1200 people (50 – 80 for each train) pass through the waiting area each morning. Smaller, but not insignificant, numbers of people alight at Macleod also passing through the waiting area.The waiting area at the station has been described in Designed for a purpose.
As it stands the waiting area almost certainly fulfils the needs of its owner (PTV) in that it provides the means for travellers to pay for their travel; space to display relevant information and warnings for customers; a basic level of amenity with seating, heating and cooling, and could be hosed out if necessary. But as Brown and Katz (2011) remind us we should start with the experience and needs of the user who in this case is certainly not a faceless bureaucracy (p. 382); a sentiment echoed in Design for public good (The Design Council, 2013) – promoting both design for basic need, and the understanding of citizen need.
Problems with this space can be viewed from two different user perspectives.
- The commuter for whom it does not provide a pleasant waiting experience
- The kiosk operator whose business must be bordering on unviable based on the observed lack of sales of coffee, snacks and reading material.
Specific problems observed:
- Congestion at the door to the platform
- Cold air entering the waiting area from the platform door frequently opening and closing (would equally be a problem in warm weather when the waiting area is air-conditioned)
- Kiosk not selling much coffee or anything else
- Not a pleasant environment for waiting, hard surfaces, cold lighting and colours, rarely changing information displays.
It is possible that responses to this brief which focus on the needs of only one of the users will, through abductive logic (Kolko, 2012), benefit the other as well. If the commuters find the waiting area an enjoyable, comfortable place to be they will be more motivated to spend time and money there, benefitting the kiosk operator. If the kiosk operator makes changes to his service the commuters may find the waiting experience more pleasant.
- Improve the waiting area experience for commuters
- Increase the viability of the kiosk
The “How might we” questions (D.School, Stanford) document was used to prompt some alternative thinking:
How might we…
…make the waiting area more like a cafe?
…make the wait time more productive?
…make the environment more inviting?
…make the wait time something to be enjoyed rather than endured?
…give “ownership” of the space to the users? Could it contribute to community engagement?
- Any changes to the physical environment would have to be approved by a bureaucracy.
- Changes to the Myki machinery could be costly and require the input of expert technicians.
- Unknown support for change from the facility owner.
Suggestions arising from the brainstorm:
Commuters may choose not to order coffee because they are worried that the train would arrive before it is ready – explore how commuters could be better provided with real-time information regarding when the next train will arrive (currently have to exit to platform to view display) and how many coffees the kiosk operator could make in this time.
Consider the location of the Myki readers – currently outside the waiting area on the platform, many commuters go outside to scan on then come back in creating congestion and adding to the frequency of the doors opening and closing. Alternatively, they don’t come back in at all, meaning that they do not consider purchasing from the kiosk.
Physical environment – could softer furnishings and warmer colours and lighting improve the environment?
Entertainment – could visual entertainment be provided? Televisions showing news channel or live sporting events (sound off, with captions)? Would local musicians be able to busk in the waiting area or on the platform? Could the kiosk operator provide music?
Displays – could local schools, sporting and community groups provide regularly changing displays of artwork, photographs of events and community information?
Could the kiosk provide some cafe-style furniture – stand-up table, stools which double as small tables etc. – to enhance the cafe experience?
Macleod station is an essential but almost invisible part of the daily routine for many people. How might we make the physical and experiential space valuable and valued by all?
Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design. Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383.
D.school, Stanford University, How might we?… Method Card: http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/HMW-METHODCARD.pdf Accessed 3 August, 2014
The Design Council (2013). Design for public good. Retrieved from:http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/knowledge-resources/report/design-public-good Accessed 3 August, 2014
Kolko, J. (2012). Abductive thinking and sensemaking: The drivers of design synthesis.http://www.jonkolko.com/writingAbductiveThinking.php Accessed 14 August, 2014
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