For my final project in Network Cities (ARCH531), I worked with Garin Fons and Amy Grude to explore urban flows. We propose a system that enables sidewalks to respond to you and the people who came before you. As you walk through a city, the ground underfoot glows. Intense, extended glows show the most common direction people in your place next went, while weaker illuminations indicate less popular directions.
Specific numbers of people, dates, and times are never shown. These features would increase the cognitive load on pedestrians, while we intend this service – once people become accustomed to it – to blend into the background and become a moving, changing part of the cityscape. Our goal is not to guide people to a specific path, but to highlight flows at a pedestrian’s given location. In doing so, we restore the idea of “the beaten path” to urban landscapes – something that has largely been lost with permanent, paved pedestrian ways. It is up to you to decide whether to stick with the crowds or see what lies in less frequented areas.