DEFINING THE NEW "FOURTH PLACE"
The course was a collective think-tank and R&D program. For two intense weeks, we meet virtually online, connecting from Lyon, France to Melbourne, Australia where students were in currently in lock-down from COVID-19. Students working alone or in pairs researched and evaluated each of the elements and programs that make up a public space lobby and mapped them to their digital counterpoints.
Examples include: human bodies vs. avatars, social gestures vs. UX controls, social activities in real life vs. online, circulation in real space vs. user journey in virtual environments (i.e. video games), among other comparisons. Students mapped, collaged and diagramed these elements and extracted their meanings into concise definitions and user flows.
This lead us to a dictionary and web of ideas that show the evolution, overlapping and speculations on the future of public space. This includes the influence of technological advances, post-COVID design measures, internet culture, economic contexts, and new digital opportunities.
Together, the collective research resulted in a design toolkit for defining the new “fourth place.” The results of this research will be synthesized in the coming months.
The maps and diagrams below were conducted during the first week in order to understand the elements and interactions that make up lobbies and to create a framework to help design their vision for the future lobby—a virtual space that is both a menu, game and place to hang out and talk. We did this by looking at the various forms of lobbies, entrances and menus in physical and virtual representations.
Students analysed and mapped the spatial layouts, interactions and sub-spaces of lobbies, menus and entrances in a range of mediums from the virtual—video games, VR applications, website landing pages, title sequences and movie menus, social media landing pages—to the physical—Main Street USA, train stations, airports, Disneyland, student centres, hotel/spa lobbies, immerse theatre entrances, among others. Through analysis and mapping these spaces, we created a new lexicon and design framework for creating virtual public meeting areas.
After this research period, students created their own virtual lobbies (see outcomes) with embedded social interactions and gameplay. Since the ideal virtual public space needs is both spatial and immersive, and we, as future architects, are equipped to rethink physical space in virtual formats, the final outcome was a lobby for virtual reality using the Mozilla Hubs platform. Students designed and created lobbies for five different contexts: i.e. cinema, art galleries, education, online dating and prototyped it in Mozilla Hubs.
WE ARE WAITING BOTH IN REALITY & ON SCREENS...
MAPPING ONLINE/DIGITAL LOBBY SPACES
Students also mapped and analyzed the functionalities and features of virtual lobby spaces, from VR chat applications, to multi-player games, to film and sandbox games. Students extracted key features, elements, customizations and interactions that make up these social or virtual platforms.