MACRO UX | Culture Mile - Week 2

Week 2 🗓: 20 Jan - 24 Jan

Brief 🔍

Design a way for people to discover the cultural richness of the City of London

Teammates: 🤝Nancy, Tracie and LuLu

Research Methods 📚

After getting valuable feedback from our professor and classmates, we started our week 2 by changing the topic direction. We focused on the narrative topic which is related to history and used the "Literature review", "Observation" and "Directed Storytelling" methods to do research.

Tutorial with our professor


We research the term "Psychogeography" by reading some literature review. It demonstrates a playful sense of provocation and trickery. We understood in literal terms as the point where psychology and geography intersect. It is also identified in search for new ways of apprehending our environment. It is because we share a perception of the city as the site of mystery, as they seek to uncover the true nature of that which lies beneath the flux of the everyday. Therefore, it is called as the arts of getting lost.

It is psychological and geographical. It's about how we're affected by being in certain places - architecture, weather, who you're with. It's just a sense of excitement about a place. We found out that it is a new direction of encouraging people to buck the rut. They can follow some new logic that let them experience our landscape a new, that forces them to truly see what they'd otherwise ignore.

📌Observation & Directed Storytelling

We did some online researches which are based on some specific buildings. Iconic histories were found and we planned to visit there again and to do some interviews.

📍Route: Smithfield Market -> Charterhouse Square -> Barbican Centre

📍Smithfield Market

We visited the "Smithfield Market" at 7:00 AM in order to interview the sellers and understand more about market history.

Photo of the visit and interview in Smithfield Market

Here is the history we discovered. "Smithfield Market" was designed by an architect - Sir Horace Jones. In 1868, it is built as a poultry and provisions market. Unfortunately, it was burnt down in 1958, replaced by a new market hall in 1963. Moreover, the Smithfield has borne witness to many executions of heretics and political rebels over the centuries, including Scottish patriot Sir William Wallace, and Wat Tyler, leader of the Peasants' Revolt, among many other religious reformers and dissenters. Now, it becomes a meat market, which is only open during 3 AM - 8 AM and close during the day.

📍Charterhouse Square

Then, we visited the "Charterhouse Square".

Photos of the Charterhouse Square

It was established near a 1348 plague pit, which formed the largest mass grave in London during the Black Death, and tens of thousands of bodies were buried there.15% of the population perished during that terrible summer. When a plague appeared in a household, the house sealed, thus condemning the whole family to death. The houses were distinguished by red paint cross on the door and the words "Lord have mercy on us". At night the corpses were brought out in answer to the cry "Bring out your dead". When we visited there and know that there are so many people died here, we felt a little bit scared even if it is a beautiful garden nowadays. We also found out a nursery rhyme "Ring-a-ring a Roses". Some people claim this nursery rhyme is about the plague. A rosy rash, they allege, was a symptom of the plague, and posies of herbs were carried as protection and to ward off the smell of the disease.

The nursery rhyme "Ring-a-ring a Roses"

📍Barbican Centre

In the final step, we visited the "Barbican Centre" again and visited their library. We interviewed some librarians about the history of the barbican area. They provided us with a reading list and helped us a lot to make a deeper understanding of its history.

The Barbican Books (Recommended by the librarians)

In August 1940, a war happened in Barbican. The Blitz is a failure of the German Luftwaffe to defeat the British Royal Air Force. The underground railway was made available to the people of London as an air-raid shelter. In 1952 - 1956, it had proposals for redeveloping the Barbican site, which was submitted to the City of London Corporation. In 1959, the corporation selected a scheme by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. Then, the construction began in 1962.

Concept 💡

After we did the research, we brainstormed the ideas together. Below is our concept map. We aim to combine senses and history together in order to create a psychogeography experience.

Concept Map

💡Concept 1: Smithfield Unheard

We want to show the people what is happening in the Smithfield Market when it is closed. When we visited there, we saw a lot of meat and visuals and hear a lot of noise in the market. Therefore, we thought of combining the visuals, patterns and sounds together. We suggested capturing some close-up photos of the objects. To create the patterns and large interactive photo experience for our user. We will design the metal on the photo, which is showing the temperature inside the market. When users place their hand on the metal, they can hear the image animated and the sound.

Concept 1 - Smithfield Unheard

💡Concept 2 - Scent of death

For the Charterhouse Square, we had an idea of creating a black box with red paint cross. When you pass next to the crossed boxed, you will hear the sound of the song, "Ring-a-ring a Roses". As you peek inside the box, you can smell flowers of fragrances with a text that describes the event of the Black Death.

Concept 2 - Scent of death

💡Concept 3 - If walls could talk

When we visited the barbican and read the reference books, we found out that they have iconic wall textures.

Therefore, we thought about an idea that can combine the textures and sounds together. It will represent the history timeline of the Barbican. This installation will blend on the street. When people touch the wall, they can feel the textures and listen to the historical stories.

💡Concept 4 - A walk of history

It is another way to present the concept 3, instead of experiencing it with your hand, we thought of using your foot to feel the textures while walking. Each trail will create a different sound once you step on it.

Concept 3 & 4 - If walls could talk / A walk of history

Project feedback & Reflection

After we have the tutorial with our professor, we found out some problems with our concepts. Even if we discovered a lot of great historical stories, we didn't match our target audience needs. They won't have the motivation to play with the installations because they don't feel interested in history. Only people who are curious, maybe they will try. Therefore, it is too ideal to only build installations and expect people will play and look at them. They are all useful comments which can help us rethink about the key topic - "Motivation". We fine-tuned our direction again and revised our project next week. Please have a look at the next blog for further progress.

References 📖

Chudley, J. and Allen, J., 2013.Smashing Ux Design. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

Laurel, B., 2003.Design Research: Methods and Perspectives. MIT Press. Markusen, A. and Gadwa, A., 2010. Creative Placemaking. National Endowment of the Arts. Washington, D.C. Vazquez, L., 2012. Creative Placemaking: Integrating Community, Cultural and Economic Development. SSRN Electronic Journal,. Walker, J. and Marsh, S., 2018. 8 A conversation between a collaborating artist and curator. Creative Placemaking: Research, Theory and Practice.

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