1.    
Introduction

One of human basic needs is freedom that play central role in social
process. Human development is the most important factor of welfare improvement
where the freedom is essential instrument to achieve it. And what makes you
feel more “free” than play?

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Children for example, are playful by nature. Their earliest experiences
exploring with their senses lead them to play, first by themselves and
eventually with others. Although, an adult, as well as child, needs “a room to
play in”. But who has today the leisure and the opportunities for this?

Nowadays, adults find it easier to involve themselves directly in
complex “adult games”, such as chess, than in a simpler level play, such as
stacking blocks or a toy car. On the other hand, today, children lose their
childhood through the technological development. To verify this you can just
make a walk around at the cafeterias, restaurants and other public places and
see them instead of play around all these kind of children’s games as our
generation did; they stare at tablets and mobile phones, and their play is
through all these different kind of applications you can find on play store and
app store. “Candy crash is the new hide and seek.”

As the Greek writer, Antonis Samarakis, wrote ones in his short stories
collection «??????? ?????» (=Seeking hope);

 

 

 

Then, what can we do to re-connect
the people? How can we add play in our life and consequently happiness? How can
we break our routine?

Over this project, through an
investigation into playful interactive experiences within public space and work
arias I will try to answer these questions above and hopefully to find a way to
fix this problem. I aim to design and build a real life design installation or
any other type of design in a public space and transform otherwise lost and
unused spaces into places of meaning.

I strongly believe that generally,
design can highlight a usual space that you pass through it in your everyday
life and you may never give to it the attention that it deserve to; design can
highlight our everyday life and surprise us in a good way. Also, this
installation will build in order to test all the design theories above and
frameworks produced as a result of the research project.

Along this, I will manage to deal
with a real design implementation at an early stage of my career, as I am a
newcomer; forcing myself to be aware of construction methods, material choices,
spatial observations and the construction of the experience of space. 

Moreover, I will enhance my
knowledge and my conceptual skills in how experience and emotions are equally
important design tools as the final aesthetic outcome. The final design
solution demonstrated the aim of here research in full practice demonstrating
the heightened the use of public space and social interactions through the
inclusion of low-technological playful interactions.

 

2.    
Routine

Routine is the usual series of things that you do at a
particular time. It is also the practice of regularly doing things in
a fixed order. A routine situation, action, or event is one which seems completely ordinary, rather than interesting, exciting, or different. You
use routine to refer to a way of life that is uninteresting and ordinary, or hardly ever changes.

Obsessions, repetitive
behaviour and routines can
be a source of enjoyment for some people and a way of coping with everyday
life. But they may also limit people’s involvement in other activities and
cause distress or anxiety. Many people have intense and highly-focused
interests, often from a fairly young age (such as art, music, computers,
sports, games etc.). These can change over time or be lifelong.

The world can seem a very
unpredictable and confusing place to people, who often prefer to have a daily
routine so that they know what is going to happen every day. They may want to
always travel the same way to and from school or work, or eat exactly the same
food for breakfast. Sometimes minor changes such as moving between two
activities, changes to the physical
environment        (such as
the layout of furniture in a room), or the presence of new people or absence of
familiar ones, can be distressing and difficult to manage; for others big
events like holidays, starting or
changing school, moving house or Christmas,
which create change and upheaval, can cause anxiety.

People’s dependence on routines can
increase during times of change, stress or illness and may even become more
dominant or elaborate at these times (Attwood, 1998).

Repetitive behaviours, obsessions
and routines are generally harder to change the longer they continue. A
behaviour that is perhaps acceptable in a young child may not be appropriate as
they get older.

 

3.    
Decision Fatigue

Some people support that their mind
was constantly whirring with thoughts, worries and concerns. But have you ever
thought how happier and more productive we could be by avoiding ‘decision fatigue’?

We’re conditioned to think that
more choice is always a good thing, but in the past few years, studies have
discovered something called decision fatigue. The research helps explain
why decisions are so much harder at the end of a work day and why we’re tempted
by the candy in the checkout lane after a marathon grocery trip. Our cognitive
resources are regularly depleted because we’re fighting an uphill battle every
day — physically and mentally, both at home and at work.

It doesn’t have to be
that way, though. When we understand decision fatigue and how to combat it, we
are able to make better choices and free our cognitive resources to solve big
problems and spark fresh ideas.

Obviously, more choice is often a
wonderful thing, as is using our cognitive resources to learn, think and grow.
When our cognitive resources are depleted in unproductive ways, we not only
have less willpower and make poor decisions, but we also don’t have much left
in our mental tanks for the big problems and questions. Decision fatigue helps
explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families,
splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the
dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and
high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without
paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical    fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of
being tired — but you’re low on mental energy.

As it turns out, your willpower is
like a muscle. And similar to the muscles in your body, willpower can get
fatigued when you use it over and over again. Every time you make a decision,
it’s like doing another rep in the gym.

And similar to how your muscles get
tired at the end of a workout, the strength of your willpower fades as you make
more decisions.

In a research study published
by the National Academy of Sciences, psychologists examined the factors that
impact whether or not a judge approves a criminal for parole. The researchers
examined 1,112 judicial rulings over a 10-month period. All of the rulings were
made by a parole board judge, who was determining whether or not to allow the
criminal to be released from prison on parole. (In some cases, the criminal was
asking not for a release, but rather for a change in parole terms.) The
researchers found was that at the beginning of the day, a judge was likely to
give a favorable ruling about 65 percent of the time. However, as the morning
wore on and the judge became drained from making more and more decisions, the
likelihood of a criminal getting a favorable ruling steadily dropped to
zero.After taking a lunch break, however, the judge would return to the
courtroom refreshed and the likelihood of a favorable ruling would immediately
jump back up to 65 percent. And then, as the hours moved on, the percentage of
favorable rulings would fall back down to zero by the end of the day.

When the judge on a
parole board experiences decision fatigue, they deny more parole
requests. This makes sense. When your willpower is
fading and your brain is tired of making decisions, it’s easier just to say no
and keep everyone locked up than it is to debate whether or not someone is
trustworthy enough to leave prison. At the beginning of the day, a judge will
give each case a fair shot. But as their energy starts to fade? Deny.

Fewer Choices not only make your
life and your decisions easier, they make you happier either.

 

4.    
Monkey Mind, Stress and the Need of
Downtime

Monkey mind is a Buddhist term that
means “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant;
confused; indecisive; uncontrollable.”

Monkey mind can keep you from sticking
to your daily routine. It often happens when an action causes you to think of a
related action. The second action leads to a third, and so on and so forth.
Eventually you’re doing something that has nothing to do with the first action.

As a consequence of all the above,
all these situations that we pass through them every day, without release it,
have as a result to stress us up. Stress can affect all aspects of our life,
including our emotions, behaviours, thinking ability and physical health. No
part of the body is immune. It can rise our blood pressure and our pulse
rate. Breathing is become faster and it can ever affects our digestive system
by slows it down and much more.

So the truth is that we need more
downtime then most people think. Downtime is not an act of laziness. It is an
incredibly important factor to keep in mind when it comes to daily routines.
Downtime is a way to clean up our minds and helps us to rest for a while.

According to a 2013 Scientific American article, workers in
industrialized nations spend as much, if not more, time taking in information
as they do completing actual work. This consistent bombardment of information
makes it difficult to process things and makes it even harder to shut off our
minds when it’s time to rest. Even worse, when people go on vacation, they
often feel the need to check email and, in some cases, show up at virtual
meetings.

“Downtime replenishes the
brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and
creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance
and simply form stable memories in everyday life. A wandering mind unsticks us
in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future. Moments of
respite may even be necessary to keep one’s moral compass in working order and
maintain a sense of self.” (Quote
from the Scientific American article)

An exceled example, is the
successful story of Joseph Coulombe the creator and owner of the Trader Joe’s
(TJ) markets. Ones upon a time, Joseph Coulombe owns a convenient store, but a
7-Eleven (International chain of convenience stores) open up in his
neighbourhood and he was have a tuff time keeping up. He was frustrated and
unable to change customers’ behaviour so he decided to go on vacation to
Caribbean where life was easy. Easy to think, easy to drink and easy to make
decisions. In Caribbean, Joseph had the idea that he have to brink into his
stores this lifestyle to his stores. How could he do this? By making the
shopping proses easier. Rather than offers a variety of options as to what they
could eat or drink, he would offer just a few high quality targeted selections.
That’s how he made the successful Trader Joe’s (TJ) markets. It is the result
of unique business model that has built a national chain of neighbourhood
stores. 

Therefore, when you become aware of
what drains your mental energy and what replenishes it, you’ll be able to make
small changes that will produce huge results. Freed from decision fatigue,
you’ll have the resources to make better choices and be more creative. 

Consequently, how much more
productive we could be, if in the middle of the day something unexpected
happens; something comes out that gives us fun time and a moment of freedom
feeling? Could this make us more relaxed? More procreative, more efficient and
more profitable?

Think about it.

 

5.    
Play

Many people, when they were young,
they used to have much more interests than they have as adults. As I mentioned
before, nowadays, adults find it easier to involve themselves directly in
complex “adult games”, such as chess, than in a simpler level play, such as
stacking blocks or a toy car. That is happening mostly because they don’t have
enough time for themselves. They are constantly whirring with thoughts, worries
and concerns; even in their vacations.

The importance of play for children
is well documented. Although, now researchers are turning their attention to
its possible benefits for adults. What they’re finding is that play isn’t just
about goofing off; it can also be an important means of reducing stress and
contributing to overall well-being.

Peter Gray, a research professor of
psychology at Boston College, says, “Play primarily evolved to teach
children all kinds of skills, and its extension into adulthood may have helped
to build cooperation and sharing among hunter-gathers beyond the level that
would naturally exist in a dominance-seeking species.” In other words, for
our earliest ancestors, play wasn’t just about adding fun to their lives, it
may have been a way of keeping the peace, which was critical for survival.

There is a theory that play is
therapeutic. At work, play has been found to speed up learning, enhance
productivity and increase job satisfaction. Playful adults have the ability to
transform everyday situation, even stressful ones, into something entertaining.

Playing games is one of the most
important ways to cope with the problems of business and daily life. It creates
leisure time that every adult must have.

“Highly playful adults feel
the same stressors as anyone else, but they appear to experience and react to
them differently, allowing stressors to roll off more easily than those who are
less playful”. (Barnett)

Playing games helps us also to have
a good physical condition. It can improve reflex, intelligence or health,
depending on the kind of the game. Moreover, it forces us to socialise. Games
provide adults free atmosphere to talk and laugh with their colleagues.  It’s also, a way to have a better
understanding with each other and forgot the unhappy moments.

 

I strongly believe, play is a basic
human need as essential to our well-being as sleep, so when we are low either
on play, or on sleep, our minds and bodies notice it. Therefore, playing some
kinds of games can help us to have free, without stress, times and to relax. As
a consequence, connected with all the above, by the end of our entertainment break
(play beak) we will also be more productive throughout the day.

But, how possible is that to happen
if we spent almost half of ours asleep time of the day at work? Where people
mostly meet or pass through during their day?

The answer is public spaces!

 

6.    
Public space

A public space refers to an area or
place that is open and accessible to all peoples, regardless of gender, race,
ethnicity, age or socio-economic level. These are public gathering spaces such
as plazas, squares and parks. Connecting spaces, such as sidewalks and streets,
are also public spaces. Public spaces can play a key role as places for intercultural
dialogue, social mixing and exchange.

Although, in Cyprus, public spaces
was ones a place where people met, interacted and socializes, but not anymore.
A lot of researches reveals that countless public spaces have become
unwelcoming, unusable and unapproachable. Additionally, public opinion shows
that declining sociability is an increasing issue and as a result our community
continue to grow further apart.

Personally, I believe that the main
issue of that problem is fear. Most of our public spaces in Cyprus is not well
developed to be used by citizens. In some cases, there are no even lights and
as light psychology mentions, light produces physiological effects. People tends
to feel safer in a lighting environment than in a dark one. That’s because we need
a minimum light level to perform a task efficiently, accurately and safely.

The fear of the dark, the fear of the
unknown and the unfriendly environment of the public spaces have as a result, alienated
people, isolated and stuck in the “safety” of their routine. But how can we
change that?

Fearlessness is essential in our
everyday life. This is how we can become more creative. It is necessary to stop
our scruples and as a consequence to break our routine.

One way to achieve this outcome is
by providing fun and participatory forms of design. The essence of play will
explores as a catalyst for change in public space in order to heighten accessibility
in the form of an invitational context. Play does not need explanation;
everyone young and old has the ability to share it alike.  

As the famous theorist Johan
Huizinga (1938) mentions, play allows us to escape our world, putting forward
the nation that play actually takes place within a temporary or separate
“space”, persuading us that when we are playing, we are transformed and removed
from our everyday life into a parallel reality. In agreement Jackie March,
views play as a “social and cultural activity, it allows us to play with our
world, while at the same time escaping our world.”

In recent years numerous
practitioners have investigated themes of playfulness and participatory
interaction with public spaces. Generally, the interactive design focused on
the communication between people.

How can you make and construct a
successful design in a public space which attribute a playful atmosphere and
interactive experience to people?

One such example that includes all the steps above, is the
Red Ball Project by Kurt Perschke. RedBall
is a traveling public art piece. Considered “the world’s
longest-running street art work” the piece has been to over 25
cities globally and moves through a city with a new site each day of the performance.
Perschke through this art piece wants to be a catalyst for new encounters
within the everyday public space experience. The large, playful Red Ball
project encourages users to participate in a playful offering as well as the
architecture and fellow members of society. The true essence of the RedBall Project
is the invitation to engage and to collectively imagine. The larger arc of the
project is how each city responds to that invitation and, over time, what the
developing story reveals about our individual and cultural imagination. Through
that art piece the person is not a spectator any more, but a participant in the
act of imagination.

Based on Anna Merry’s
(2015) PhD thesis framework, in you want to increased sociability, personal
creativity and experience in public space you have to fulfil some premises. Firstly,
Utilise the Senses; the spectator-participant
have to immerse with an implemented design for greater enticement to interact
and thus experience, such as materiality, light and sound. The experimentation
and the invitation to explore their personal creativity for experience output,
are tempting people to participate in this experience. This is a way to promote
amusement, through the utilisation of humour, colour and entertaining solutions
in order to actively encourage enjoyment and pleasure; Fun.

Also, by allowing
the public to engage leads to a deeper engagement of interactivity with themselves,
the object, others and spatial setting. Furthermore, the communication of any
design is key to successes and failures. If a design is not comprehendible and inviting,
users will fail to interact. It is vital that a welcoming and attractive
atmosphere is created to encourage incentive, active participation, and onward transfer.
In addition, the closer and more familiar people are with something, the more
relaxed they become; that’s allowing the user to engage quickly and to become
from spectator to participant.

Last but not
least, is Safe. Users are not exposed
to any danger. A site should be suitable for walking in terms of proximity of
the wider city and also, allow users to walk safely around of this spatial
experience. The more familiar and safe you feel, the more easily you engage
with it but don’t forget the aesthetic side of the design. The playful
experience have to be attractive in terms of its final aesthetic, such as bold
colours and materiality, aiming to the heighten the overall attractiveness of
the surrounding area.

If you follow
the instructions above your design will be successful and the “spectators-participants” will have a
playful, interactive experience. Through this design, the designer have the
ability to create a link, by providing an innovative method of access and
communication to bring the community together. As a consequence, our public
spaces will perk again.

A well-designed and maintained public space
is critical to the health of any city.