PROJECT MURA
 
/Group Project 
/Degree project
/Core 77 Design Awards 2016- Built Environment
 
PROBLEM:
4 million people take the tube everyday, making it the most heavily used mode of transport in London. The tube can be a world of unspoken signals and gestures, while people say little when they are traveling, there might be a lot going on inside—fears of danger, stereotypical assumptions or anger at being unfairly distrusted.

 

All these contribute to high tensions among tube travelers. But what if this experience could be different? Can there be a way to make passengers feel more at ease and to create a more positive tube experience? 
DESIGN:
An experimental and interactive musical experience aiming to change the interpersonal dynamics in the London Underground.
 
Through encouraging collaboration and using music as the medium, project MURA’s goal is to break the tension and to evoke a momentary feeling of trust among passengers. It is comprised of a musical system that involves a soundscape generated through the collective taps of oyster cards, transitional graphic elements, and musical handrail control components on the tube.  
 
Ultimately, project MURA aspires to create a better sense of community among commuters. We now invite you to join our musical journey in the London Underground, please have your oyster card ready.
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USAGE FLOW: Please have your Oyster card ready and enjoy the musical journey! Please enjoy the musical momentary collaboration with your neighbors in the tube.
Part 1: The first part of the musical journey would involve designing a soundscape in the ticket hall made from collective taps of Oyster cards. We propose using simple tunes that are easily recognizable.
Part 2: As passengers go down the escalator to the platform, they will hear short musical tunes and see musical visuals created by passengers on the wall.
Part 3: the main intervention is designed to be in the tube itself. We propose incorporating a musical handrail system that is comprised of the central pole, side handles and grab rings. As a person holds on to the bar, music will be played. Music will change dynamically as more people join, resulting in musical collaboration feeling.
DEVELOPING PROCESS: There were a series of experiments behind Project MURA.
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First stage experiment: Occupying more than your fair share of public space is view negatively. Having more personal space might not necessarily mean an increased utility in that space with external influences such as public views and the surrounding environment. In general, people are more accepting of the decrease in personal space when there's some positive interaction/intervention within that space.
Second stage experiment: It is possible to create a momentary feeling of trust among strangers by getting them to complete a simple task together. We looked into pre-existing structures in the tube and different types of media. We decided to focus on musical collaboration as a strategy.
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Time-based music design: We worked together with a composer from the Royal College of Music to figure out the proper tunes for musical collaboration in a tube. During morning peak time, we proposed using light, upbeat music. As the day goes on, light, chill music will be played to encourage a more happy and playful atmosphere. During evening peak time, relaxing music will be played. For late-night, we proposing calm music to signify the end of the day. Apart from the songs we composed, seasonal songs for limited times will be also available, such as Christmas songs.
Prototype and testing: We took a variation of prototype out into a tube to test out the reactions of people in the real world. In general, we found that people were quite interested in our intervention.
Future plan: Through project MURA, momentary collaboration among strangers can help build a trust feeling. It is not only limited to tube or music, and it could be applied to more public places like shopping malls or public working space.