The UT Design & Creative Technologies Department is working on expanding classrooms in a new building.
As a student in the program, my role was to discover how students behave in their classroom environments and to hopefully translate current behaviors and new found needs to the new building.
I was specifically tasked with redesigning the Collaboration Commons room in the new building and to research what would make students most successful in this in-between place.
I was able to gather research through redesigning an in-between space in order to see natural student behaviors emerge.
Timeline: 4 weeks, December 2019
Role: Designer & Researcher
Skills: User-testing, Observational and Qual. / Quant. Research, Prototyping, Journey Mapping, Illustrator, Photoshop, Talking to strangers
What are the current behaviors of
1 | Observational Research
Through photographing students,
I was able to discover that students:
Deliberately identify themselves as students: How can we allow students to voice their needs?
Are messy in order to think and learn: What type of material or furniture do we buy?
Eat outside of their library: What are the permissions of a space?
Use chairs and tables for different functions other than intended: Is our current infrastructure supporting student needs?
2 | Room Prototype
I began by reshaping a student lounge into a more inviting in-between place that responded to my previous observational research. This was to learn how students engaged with the space, how the community reacted to my changes, and what would transpire from this experiment.
Themes of governance, agency, trust,
voice, and comfort emerged from the
first iteration of this space design.
Governance: What are the permissions and rules of a space? And how do these implementations influence behavior?
Trust: Can we foster a trusting environment, especially in the shared materials space?
Agency: Can we accommodate different student needs by allowing agency?
Comfort: Does agency elicit comfort?
Voice: How can we allow students to voice and share their needs?
In the second iteration of my redesign,
I amplified the three themes of comfort,
governance, and voice that responded
to the first iteration.
Comfort: Are students more comfortable with cushioned chairs?
Governance: What was driving the students from not putting the ping pong table back on their own initiative?
Voice: What identities engage with a space?
3 | Final
This project shed light on important behaviors that should be considered when designing for the Collaboration Commons in the new UT Design building. This experiment revealed student needs through direct and indirect interventions.
Through the process of seeing to understand instead of asking to receive allowed me to gather research that related to the less obvious needs of students and others in an in-between space.