Urban Pod is a travelling, transitory piece for urban areas. It provides calm space for contemplation in busy environments, private space in public areas, and soft space in the usually hard urban environment. It seeks to address problems of urban sprawl by making town and city centres more appealing places to live.
Picture 2 shows my research board at the start of the Urban Pod project. The list of words show the concepts I was exploring: to bring a soft space to the often hard urban environment; to give a sense of privacy in public; to provide an inside space outside; to create a place for calm contemplation in the busy urban realm and to create somewhere quiet in a noisy city.
Clockwise from top left: MIDDLETON, Sarah, Potential Site Manchester, Photograph; VEASYBLE, Unfold a beautiful intamacy; NETO, E, 2000, Ernesto Neto, ICA: London; MIDDLETON, Sarah, Pod Sketch, VEASYBLE, Unfold a beautiful intamacy; LANG/BAUMANN, Expanding Bubbles; MIDDLETON, Sarah, Concept words.
Picture 3: User Generated Form Development
Drawings developed from photographs of Kate interacting with Urban Pod prototypes, showing the potential of creating new forms from existing pieces.
Picture 4: User Testing and Form Development
I wanted to have real user interaction with my piece throughout the design process. This would enable to the work to be tested and for me to gauge people’s reactions to it. As soon as I had prototypes at a real scale, I encouraged people to try the work. Here I asked Kate to be a tester for one of my prototypes.
Kate knew very little about the project. I did not tell her:
• What the pod should look like
• How to put the pieces together
• Where specifically the piece would go
All she knew was that I was developing a pod for the outdoors. I wanted to see how, without knowing anything about the piece; she would go about putting it together, the shapes she would create and how she would interact with the product in an outdoor space.
I documented the process by taking photographs and also asked her to respond to some questions afterwards.
Further drawing work was then developed from the photographs that I took as Kate created various shapes. These show possibilities of new forms from the existing pieces.
Picture 5: The Urban Pod is lightweight, portable and comes flat packed for easy transportation. This means it can be utilised at a range of sites and ensures flexibility. The images show the quick and simple construction process.
Picture 6: Urban Pod in context