Mind the Gap

The London tube is an uncomfortable and isolating experience that is transcended by its sterile and confined atmosphere. The encroachment of ones personal territory during times of heavy passenger traffic triggers instinctual feelings of uneasiness. As a result of these feelings of intrusion, people tend to become more withdrawn and aloof. Interaction and connection between strangers is rare in this situation, although being surrounded by people the act is a mainly detached and impersonal experience.

How can we reinterpret the experience/environment of the London Underground to stimulate interaction between passengers?

Our goal is to redefine the experience of the tube to subtlety trigger points of connection and interaction - to change withdrawn and aloof tendencies to amiable and approachable individuals. We will redefine the traditional interior landscape of the London tube car to provoke behaviors that indicate friendliness and or connection; allowing people to make eye contact, smile, laughter, and awareness of other individuals. These indicators are behaviors are basic signs of friendliness that people enact when open to meeting new people. In this way we are  unconsciously changing the behavior of the passengers to make them appear more open and receptive to meeting others, ultimately making the experience of taking the London Underground a more relaxing and pleasurable one.

In public situations, defined personal space or Proxemics is illustrated through people standing in an orderly line – they stand next to each other with a specific distance apart from the other individual. When they stand too close to each other, discomfort and uneasiness ensues.* This instinctual behavior, and reaction is an unconscious means of maintaining social order. The amount of personal space is dependant of the culture in which the individual is familiar with, and varies widely. There are four defined zones of personal space: Intimate, personal, social, and public speaking. * People with higher levels of anxiety, and more intrusive tendencies have a larger radius of personal space. Social behavior, eye contact, physical contact, smiling, and communication towards another individual typically happens in the last two zones of ones personal space. A social act is any intention, aim, plan, or practice which relates to another individual.* Social practices come in the form of initiating connection with other individuals, these behaviors are means of understanding emotion, personality, and agreeability of other individuals and transcend many cultures. 

Designed by Chinhan Yang, Julie Yonehara, Xueqin Xu and Weiche Wu.