Blog task 2

On Monday 4 August I observed the activity at Macleod station waiting area while the 6.50am, 7.02am and 7.12am citybound trains came and went.

Approximately 50 commuters arrived, waited and caught each train. The only other person using this space at this time is running the small kiosk.

The physical space has been described more thoroughly in Designed for a purpose. As a reference I’ve included my sketch from that post.

Macleod Station

I also used a very brief window of opportunity, when the area was empty as a train arrived, to capture this panorama.

This picture shows the kiosk which isn’t visible in the panorama.Macleod station kiosk

This is what I observed:

  • People enter and walk through to the platform to check when the next train will arrive and swipe their Myki card. They then either continue down the platform or return to the waiting area. People coming back in sometimes create congestion at the doorway.
  • The waiting area is warmer than outside (an unusually cold -2C on this day)
  • Every time the doors open (entrance or exit to platform) cold air rushes in.
  • There is very little attention paid to the information posters that are on most walls and display boards although two people look at a poster advertising trains being replaced by buses next weekend.
  • As more people arrive the seats start to fill but there are lots of gaps, no one sits immediately adjacent to anyone else unless they arrived together (presumably have a pre-existing relationship).
  • Very few people speak unless they arrived together (see above); are apologising to people queuing behind for taking a long time to top-up their Myki; or are making a purchase at the kiosk. Occasional comments about how cold it is are heard.
  • No one is speaking on a phone but many people are using their phones for other purposes.
  • I hear heels clicking, Myki machine beeps, the vending machine fridge motor, doors opening and closing, wheels of rolling cases, espresso machine, station announcements.
  • I feel warmer being inside but the hard plastic seats are cold. The whole environment is an emotionally cold place.
  • The kiosk is not very busy but does provide a pleasant smell of coffee. The people who do purchase coffee or other items seem to be regulars as they greet, are greeted by and chat with the man serving . One is even asked about his weekend. He only makes 3 coffees while I am observing.
  • The waiting area empties as station announcements (usually pre-recorded but once from a real person broadcasting from within the customer service area) indicate the approach of the next train. Each time one or two people who have gotten off the train exit through the waiting area. The next wave of people start arriving.

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Designed for a purpose

Observe

On one day this week, spend 30 minutes on your way to work, at the gym or in a restaurant, taking care to observe, and note in a sketchpad, everything that you think has been designed for a purpose, without which the journey, gym or restaurant experience would be more difficult, or less pleasant. Has anything been designed for one purpose but harnessed for another?

On Wednesday I left home 20 minutes earlier than usual so I would have time to observe the waiting area at my local station. I might add it was dark, foggy and 4 degrees at the time, although that wouldn’t have been much different 20 minutes later.

Macleod station is an entirely utilitarian space, all hard surfaces which could probably be hosed down if necessary. Items in the space include:

  • Three different machines related to ticketing – one for topping-up, one for balance check and two for swiping on and off
  • Snack and drink vending machines
  • Plastic modular seating in groups of two or more, each seat bolted to the floor with a central pole
  • A kiosk with a coffee machine selling snacks, newspapers and magazines as well as coffee
  • Rubbish bins
  • Two display stands, one holding various brochures, the other with lots of “cheerful” messages from the authorities
  • A customer service window (but don’t hold your breath waiting for “service”)
  • A raised, textured walkway for guiding people who are vision impaired
  • Automatic doors at the entry and exit to the platform

People using the space frequently craned their neck as they entered to see the display indicating when the next train is due. This display is outside the space, on the platform.

As people entered they either went to the kiosk, the Myki top-up machine, took a seat, or went straight through to the platform.

The only item I observed being used for a purpose other than its original design was one seat pole had been harnessed as an anchor point for a chain to secure a display stand (the one with all the messages about law and order!).

Macleod Station