Saturday, October 26, 2013

What's in a Place - group assignment - part 1

We started a new assignment two weeks ago, which is related to the analysis on a space. During the class we went to a place of the New School and observed the movement and make notes for half an hour. After coming back to class and being divided in groups, we discussed the observations we made and were asked to pick a new place to work on more observations.

My group decided to choose the Cafe 55, cafeteria of the Arnold Hall building at the New School. For the first time of the project we were asked to go to the place and make precise observations on it. We made drawings, took pictures, videos, wrote about the space and made a floor plan.

This was the first part of the project and the information we collected is bellow:



 the floor plan:

And the observations...

Textures of the Cafeteria:
Table: has a lot of scratches from x-acto knives (I guess). Are white and plain.
Floor: Plain, rubber, gray floor
Surfaces at the cafeteria are usually plain. I believe this is because it is easier to clean it this way, as it's a food place that needs to be always clean. ALso, plain surfaces without patterns make the place look bigger, simple and kind of "modern". The colors of the cafeteria are blue and gray, which is a weird choice as this colors are not psychological related to make us hungry (as red and yellow, which would be more attractive colors). Also, the cafeteria looks for me kind of crowded and overwhelming and it's not the kind of place I would possibly choose as a pleasant place to seat and eat. I'd rather go somewhere else, specially when it is crowded.

Display of the cafeteria:
The way the cafeteria is displayed also forces the interaction between people (as the tables are so close to each other). WHen you are with a group of friends this can be pleasant, as you can seat together and it on a familiar environment. WHen you are alone, though, it is hard to fin a comfortable spot to sit down and eat peacefully when the cafeteria is crowded. When it is empty, mostly between lunch and dinner, it is cozier to sit on the tables (that become kind of communal as there are not a lot of groups of people) and eat alone reading something of texting on your phone.

The food:
the food display at the cafeteria is interesting: foods are placed in a linear line, starting with yogurt and fruit self service, going to warm food ordered and then ending with a refrigerator. You pick your food and pay it at the cashier which is located between the hot food and the refrigerator, right next to the place where most eating tables are located

Observation of Arnold Hall Cafeteria (11:45am - 1:00pm)
- People waiting in line to order food and at the cashier
- Pizza, salad, yogurt, hot meal, drinks, baked good, etc
- Especially long line for pizza and flat bread, not as long for salad and hot meal
- People eating alone, and people with their friends, usually in groups of 2, 3 or 4.
- People alone=> with books, sheet of paper, on a computer, on their phone or listening to music.
- People wandering around looking for a place to sit.
- Release of stress
- The atmosphere is not as tensed up
- People are sitting and having lunch but they still look busy (they are usually on a task and if not, their eyes are so busy looking around etc)
- Unlike those eating alone, who usually leave right after they are done with the last bit of food, people in a group linger around and socialize.
- There is a pattern in movement
= If two groups of people leave, 2 come
= There's always some spots for people coming in
(maybe this is the reason why it doesn't get overcrowded)
- People eating on the balcony (looking out the window)
- People come and join. join their friends.
- some are SO FOCUSED on their food
- People coming up from the computer lab
- People have so much carrying around with them, ex sketchbooks
= Bumping into people
- Why would anyone buy an already made wrap/salad when they can have their own salad/wrap made...?
- People have different ways of mixing their salad (shaking/stiring)
- Eating in a group = gradually gets louder
- Very good ventilation
- High ceiling => makes the space look more open
- There are phases (when it gets crowded and when it empties)
- Table => a lot of scratches
- A LOT of in and out (alternates within 7-8 minutes)
- Atmosphere => very relaxed but little bit of tension due to the business. Not as comfortable, people eat and go. come eat and go
- Seems like a place where people can linger, socialize but still there is rapid in and outs, "come and go"s
- Just a place to drop by, not a final destination => a passby place... (??)
- The space between the tables => too narrow??

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