Sunday, November 29, 2009


The crux of this semester has surrounded dialogue concerning transportation issues and subsequent diagrams depicting these issues. As designers we inherently wrestle with solutions to problems we may not be able to fix by ourselves. So maybe we take the pressure off of ourselves and onto the public. Maybe just by opening peoples eyes, new realms of possibility and change could appear. This may be an idealistic viewpoint, but even the slightest consideration would be progress.

When considering established forms of transportation, society often interacts at an arms length. They consider what they have been given, what they have to work with and react accordingly. For instance a subway map's agenda is soley focused on getting you to ride the subway, and providing a visual reference to do so. The London Underground map successfully achieved this when it was overhauled by Harry Beck in 1933. And although the map is successful at easing the understanding of riding the Underground, it may not describe the most efficient way to commute in general. As we can see in this map by Steve Prentice, often times the commuter might be better off walking, rather than riding, because the distances between stops is not portrayed accurately. This doesn't discredit the work of Harry Beck, it simply provides an alternative.

Public transportation infrastructure is rapidly becoming outdated and overworked because it can't keep up with the growing numbers and demands of passengers. In New York City, Bus stops have elevated chairs or benches altogether. Many commuters accept this as a fact of life, something that can't be changed. Sit Projects have proven, rather simply that the issue can be improved by simply placing chairs under various bus stops in the city.

"Pragmatically, this arose from the pressing need for an array of benches/seats at bus and subway stops within New York City’s public transportation system. By installing our atypical seating compositions, we encourage people to contemplatively stop, consider their purpose, possibly sit and engage with other local commuters over the curiosity of their current placement."

Sit projects proves that a solution doesn't always have to be perfect to work. They have, if nothing else, opened a dialogue for New York City bus riders about the problem at hand.

By using public property as a means of communicating a concept, and idea can catch on and spread if it is designed well. Heklucht, a concept by Jeroen Bruls and Krijn Christiaansen capitalizes on the idea of multi-functionality; a bike lock with a built in air-pump. It began in
Ypenburg, Netherlands, but has quickly spread to Belgium, Austria and the United Kingdom. By combining two essential products of bike culture and executing it well, they have altered the concept of what a bike lock could be. Heklucht is an excellent example of how design can magnify specific needs in various forms of transportation.

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