Reflection

We have worked on projects relating to architecture of workspaces in our university in the past, making the topic one we were already quite familiar with. Quickly we felt that we might even have analysed most aspects of it previously and found ourselves digging for new perspectives. In the beginning of this MxD Studio we definitely had some difficulty figuring out what the final outcome should look like, which made and finding the “right” approach for the project somewhat challenging. 

Once we as a group did agree on an outline, our plan was disrupted by having to change our concept from the premises of the NDU to home offices to adapt to the unique situation everyone was suddenly thrown into. After some intense brainstorming on our part, we found our focus again and got excited to get input from fellow home office practicing students through interviews and we enjoyed sharing the outcomes and build prototypes from them. 

While we felt that the communication between the different groups in our class and the professors was not optimal and slight frustration was definitely present, our own group always worked more or less flawlessly together. We found common ground in our different ideas and worked problems out quickly. When one of couldn’t be present during a Studio, the others took over without discussion and we made time for calls to catch up on our progress. We realized just how well the four of us worked together once we were working with another group, which took a lot more effort and time. After a long discussion we did find a way to combine our groups’ main objectives into a prototype, which proved to be successful in the end. 

The last step of this course, getting every group (and every individual) to agree on a final definition of the “MxD Method” and a fitting presentation might have been the most challenging yet. It might have been the months of home office that made the whole process seem somewhat frustrating and like we lost the elements of flexibility and interaction how we knew them, but we are glad to report that me made it to the end of the Studio with an outcome that everybody took part in achieving. 


Three Interventions

Part of our MxD process is to be able at some point to knock everything on the head, pull a cut and start the process new in order to see things from another perspective. Of course there is also always the possibility to readopt rejected ideas.

The process also includes lots of prototyping and testing and one of our mottos is „fail fast in order to learn fast“. That´s why we had the got the task to do interventions during the last few weeks of class. In the following we will give you an overview of three interventions we as group „Room and Architecture“ did.

 

Intervention 1

The first intervention was based on the results of the interviews we did with other students and employees about homeworking and their needs concerning the working environment. We decided to check the theses we got out of the interviews on our collegues. Therefore we did a flow with them were told them small things they should do which can change the atmosphere of their home office to the better. Some of this tasks were for example to open the window, to do ten jumping jacks, to put your phone away from you and to get a huge glass of water.

In the end of this interventions we asked the others how they experienced the flow and if they approve the theses we build on the basis of the interviews, and they did. They experienced it as refreshing and told us that they noticed that little changes in your environment and routines can change a lot.

 

Intervention 2

We got the idea for our second intervention from the feedback Mr. Wecht gave us on our first intervention. He told us that it would be nice if there would be a „MxD“-background available on Zoom, so all of us can come together in the same virtual room.

Therefore we created a folder in Microsoft Teams with a picture of one oft he classrooms at our university and a instruction how to use this picure as a background on Zoom. Although there were some technical difficulties because Zoom has some requirements on your background in real life in order to make the virtual background work, the result turned out nice and gave a protoypical idea on how a virtual room can work and how we can work with it.

 

Intervention 3

Our third intervention was in collaboration with the group „Room and Time“. In order to plan and organize the intervention we had a 2h meeting where we mainly discussed each others goals and intentions as well as our differences and commonalities as groups. Finally we agreed on two topics which were important for all of us: team work and „to swarm out“, which is a term which on of our professors coined for us since the beginning of our studies, which we all thought that got sometimes a bit lost over time, especially during the last semester due to the adaptations in our working methods because of COVID-19.

For the intervention we diveded the class in two groups: group „Social Walking“ and group „Lonely Watching“. Group „Social Walking“ had the task to get into pairs of two and take a walk in their environment while talking to each other on the phone and discussing about good and bad design. In the end they should present the class a short summary of their findings. The topic for the group „lonley walking“ was also good and bad design, but people of this group had to swarm out and talk a walk alone and take a picture of an example for good design and a picture of something which they think is badly designed, which they also had to present to the class.

Afterwards there was a short questionaire via „MentiMeter“ in order to gain feedback about the intervention. The feedback was mainly positive and almost everybody said that the change of the environment in general as well as the specific tasks to „swarm out“ and to have a „walking meeting“ helped them to gain new thoughts and perspectives and they would like to further implement these practices into their working routines.

 

 


Conducting interviews = understanding people's needs

Interviews serve to understand a person's wishes and needs through bilateral discussions. Therefore we conducted a guideline-based interview with a total of 6 people to find out which parameters are particularly important to them in their everyday home learning. The questions were created during a team call, in which we defined the central question schemes and then formulated concrete questions from these. During the interviews it was especially important for us to find out which architectural environment creates a good working atmosphere and which indicators are important for long-term concentrated work. 

In the course of the interviews we were able to obtain some interesting results. Especially important was your respondent sufficient light, an orderly workplace and peace and quiet. In addition, the telephone was identified as a disturbing factor which should be placed at a far away place. Furthermore the observance of regular breaks was also discussed. 

Basically, it was found that home learning or home office is perceived as positive, but that social contact with friends and colleagues is clearly missing.


Observation of architecture

During our last lecture we decided on the topic of architecture. In the beginning started with an observation of the the architecture at our university, the New Design University. We could see that the classrooms are basically well designed. Unfortunately both the tables and the windows are not practical. The tables cannot be moved easily because they are very heavy. The windows can only be opened a small gap because of the fall protection. This prevents fresh air from flowing through the rooms. Furthermore, the lamps in the rooms are particularly clinical. This makes long concentration difficult. In addition, the possibility to move the tables and chairs individually within the room makes it difficult to move all the chairs and tables back to their previous place due to regulations after the end of the lecture. We might also find that there are very few comfortable seating areas that encourage people to exchange ideas and spend some free time there. Apart from the "open-plan studio", which is more reserved for creative studies, there are hardly any good rooms for spending the break or group work, except for the "Blaha Lounge". Basically, the university is well planned, but the potential is not yet well enough exploited to ensure a pleasant atmosphere. 

We have already developed some ideas that can be integrated into the university's existing architecture:

Bar tables could be provided for team work to counteract the daily sitting. We would also make special lampshades that would make the clinical light in the rooms look a little more friendly. Sliding tables are also a next step to improve the rooms. This would encourage more to make classrooms interactive. In addition, several small groups of seats should be created with possibly more plants, upholstery, carpets, to allow individual learning and comfortable sitting together. In addition, we would consider to implement a concept, in which we would like create fixed room plans for 4 rooms each. For example 4 rooms with tables placed in an U, in the other section, 4 rooms  with bartables.