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Contact between neighbours is a logical starting point for making a neighbourhood a pleasant place to live. A scientific research has shown that the area in streets where most contact between neighbours takes place is the hybrid zone. Hybrid zones are the zones between one’s private space (ones house) and the public space (the street); things like gardens, personalized sidewalks etc.
This graduation thesis is intended to design to stimulate contact between neighbours in streets without a hybrid zone. This thesis is performed as an addition to a research performed by DE ecotecten on the influence of hybrid zones on communication between neighbours.
In order to design something which fits the users’ needs and habits an extensive context analysis is done by using among others, generative techniques, data gathering through crowdsourcing and literature. This context analysis has the purpose to understand everything that has to do with being neighbours, and the experience one has with his street.
The conclusion that can be drawn from the context analysis is that the best neighbour contact is a modest form of contact. Contact consisting of saying hello, a little chat now and then, and some extra neighbour favours with your direct neighbours. Its main function is to keep up the good atmosphere in the street. Saying “hello” actually means “I want to have it nice here”. Saying “hello” is showing your good intentions.
The design goal to design for Blijdorp is: to offer opportunities to show your good intentions for the street on own initiative. These opportunities are lacking nowadays because the people in Blijdorp don’t have enough opportunities to greet each other, and because of many upstairs houses, not many people can make a façade yard and show their good intentions in that way.
In order to reach the goal an interaction vision was made which resulted in three concepts. A. Streetboxes: all neighbours in one street have the key to a shared showcase. It can be used to give, show, inform, ask etc. B. Street shares: Neighbours can buy a piece of a new product for the street, designed by one of the neighbours, and get their name printed on it. C. Save for a tile: One can save for a customizable street tile at the local shops.
Through testing the basic interactions in a real street with real residents it turned out the concept was very much liked, and people would find enough purposes to use it, but they felt a bit uncomfortable acting around the Street box. The associations one has with the concept are very important and should be one of “being proud and independent”. To keep the design realistic for possible future realization of the concept it was chosen to keep it simple and basic. Something which is almost innovative in these digital times, but very natural for contact with neighbours who are after all very close by.
The final design is called de Straathoek . De Straathoek is a “corner” situated at a central place in the street. It can be used for all kinds of surprising and convenient matters between neighbours; to give, to share, to ask, to discover and to take what is given by somebody else. De Straathoek can only be used by the residents of the accompanying street. Only they will have the knowledge about the combination of the locks. Everyone who puts something in- or takes something out of the Straathoek, can write a note and/or leave a message on the website; the Straathoek online. De Straathoek contains 4 metal showcase boxes. The showcase boxes are attached to an old construction pile. They each contain a solar cell to power a light which will turn on at night in order to get the real showcase feeling.
The 10 days final test of the Straathoek with a mock up model and a website in the Sonmansstraat in Blijdorp was mostly a success and made a lot of people enthusiastic, though some recommendations for future design will be made with regards to the website and some other practical adjustments.