Off the beaten path
The thought of going to class is dreaded enough as it is, let alone when obstacles are blocking your path. This is exactly the scene outside the CASE building. Despite stairs and a windy path leading from the building, there is no connection between to the UMC/CHEM aside from a muddy bypath created from those trudging their own. Hence, we were tasked with designing a clever solution for this issue.
After brainstorming, reassessing, and brainstorming again, we ultimately decided on a few possible solutions: to block the path altogether, create a slide, or install stairs. We eliminated ideas like a zip-line, art installation, and tracked bobsled for safety and feasibility reasons. In the end, we thought the slide was our best option, and here's why.
After discussing and asking others, we decided against blocking the path altogether as people would likely find a way around the block anyway, plus that would be counteracting our initial challenge. Then, we selected the slide over the stairs because, first off, stairs are boring, and secondly a slide would be quicker.
What we liked most about the slide idea is its ability to bring play back into the college life. We oftentimes get caught up with school that we forget to have fun, and taking this recess nostalgia approach would bring fun into getting to class.
Our process began with observation. We spent time recording and analyzing how people interact with the space. We noticed that there are actually two footpaths - one closer to the building and one that goes directly to the UMC. We decided to focus on the UMC path because it was traveled more often. The problem we wanted to tackle was solidified here: make getting to the UMC from the CASE building safer and more fun than a muddy bypath.
Next was ideation. We came up with 20 solutions to our problem as mentioned earlier (see them here) and took a step back to chose the most successful by debating and asking the public (see that here). Our thinking changed during this prototyping process from solving a problem to changing a daily student commute to include play.
Lastly, we put it all together and implemented our idea with a tarp "slide". The user got on a wheeled platform at the top and then traveled down the platform until they reached the bottom. We knew we chose the best idea when testing our idea as passers commented on how they wanted to get in on the fun themselves.
In conclusion, the next time you're walking to class, you might consider if it's the most efficient or even the most fun way because you could be sliding down a hill like elementary school recess.