Dec 30, 2011

Oh, those few awkward moments in an elevator!!

By – Anoop Jha

Built architecture also demands user interaction, engagement, privacy.

Need for user engagement 
You must have frequently faced those few awkward moments while running up and down in an elevator in a multistory office or apartment building which makes a hundred meter vertical race of few seconds look like never-ending marathon. There are innumerous possible scenarios which make you feel awkward and uncomfortable in an elevator, like standing next to your boss in an elevator after missing a crucial deadline today, close encounter with some colleague whom you don’t appreciate much because of many reasons, travelling with someone you just had argument with on some issue, thought of someone monitoring your every move through elevator camera making you conscious of your dress, your gesture and your conversation, if that’s not enough, what about a familiar security guard in the elevator who keeps track of your movement inside out of building and gaze you with vigilant eyes every time you ride the elevator, may be a crowded silence of office elevator can scare you a little in rush-hour of the day if you are a claustrophobic fellow or may be a vacant apartment elevator with flickering tube light and grungy noise of faulty machine at late hours of night reminding of the horror movie you saw last Friday  with your friends would possibly scare you to death if you are little weak at heart.

Those old school theories of elevator speech and elevator story preached by every business mentor also doesn’t seem to take away that awkwardness of elevator ride because such conversations seems so fake and plastic, because everyone knows the trick of trade now and hidden intention of those momentary utilitarian ice breaker speeches and it also becomes annoying for those uninterested or unintended fellows around. 

A user environment demands useful interactions, purposeful engagement and privacy of spatial and virtual domain in addition to convenience and safety. Musical intervention, audio visual inputs in architectural or urban environment, interactive surfaces, sculptures and landscape elements are some of the tools to provide such user experience and we need to explore more in this direction. It’s high time that architects, user interface designers, mechanical engineers, sound and light engineers, psychologists,  behavioral experts and other interested  individuals and groups should come and work together to provide a complete architectural experience to user whether inside elevator or across the span of architectural features spaces.

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