Designed for a purpose


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

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