Community Sensing
In collaboration with Annie Needham and John Ryan.
Role : Research, Documentation, Proposal graphics

Union Station

From our individual curiosity over invisible thresholds, Sarah, John and I came together to investigate waiting area at the Union Station as our threshold. We started out by sensing the space through observing the people and where they choose to sit, what they do etc as well as using technology measuring light, noise level of each seat, and questionnaires to those who were occupying the space. We were also curious of how long they would stay and occupy the space and if that would effect how they use the space and why.


Movement Studies


Through our previous sensing we were able to find similarities in what people do in this space in particular and how they utilize their belongings to create a territory or individual area within the waiting space.

Although the Union Station is a public transit area we found out there are limitations to it such as no personal or spot lights were suppose to be turned on within the waiting room, no tripods are allowed and in order to do any type of filming, you are required to have permission from the security office. So we decided to test out this invisible threshold of what is the limit to this unspoken rules of the waiting space.

As we developed our idea further and further we started deciding on a set of kits. One was an ipad covered with a television looking frame with antennas which we utilized as a very successful tool for our first experiment. Once again the television activated a more engaging conversations between us and other people utilizing the space.

Especially for invisible thresholds, the only method was to physically test out our limits. Through observing the people I was able to create a further study of these people in specific not just by collecting the ethnicity or age but to really implement myself into their space and explore.

My interest lied on how to encourage or invite people to cross invisible boundaries without forcing them and what kind of activities could happen to encourage that and what and how could that effect the use of space and the experience they have while utilizing the space? could we start creating a community who utilizes the affordances of the space without being forceful? and while being playful and enjoyable?

Final Proposal

How do you initiate or avoid conversations in public spaces? Personal interactions follow strict unspoken social rules, as well as being affected by the expectations and affordances of public spaces, particularly places of waiting and transition.

Following our observations in Union Station, and explorations into these dynamics through conversations, interventions and performances, we've created a design proposal for kits to aid those wishing to “mediate their personal perimeters”.

As our final design proposal we developed several brocheres for kits you can use to encourage interaction between travelers occupying the waiting area or to highlight the personal space you want to obtain. Through observation we were able to learn how people define their own space and through that we were able to create these kits that are familiar with a hint of unfamiliarity to it.