Mudha

Mudha is one of the projects in the studio in PSSD at the Politecnico di Milano. This studio explore and imagine how services and systems interact with spaces and exploit spatial conditions to make a city imaginable, memorable, definable.  Our group chose a section of a canal in Milan as the object of the renovation. The project was also selected for Milan Design Week 2021 and exhibited at BASE milano.

Year

2021

Agency

None

Project Type

PSSD, Spacial Design, UX

Role

Service designer, UX/UI Designer

Overview

Il Naviglio della Martesana

The Naviglio della Martesana is a canal in the Lombardy region. Also know as Naviglio Piccolo. It is part of the system of navigli of the Milan area. This canal was built for irrigation in the 15th century. Now it is a popular recreational area, known for its tranquil and traffic-free cycling paths.

Scenario

Milano città d'acque: the reopening of "Cerchia Interna of Navigli" marked the identity of the city of Milan as "the city of waters". Milan as a network of streams, sprinkled and disseminated by canals. The atmosphere is a patchwork of different styles, multiple histories and lifestyles sewn together by the canal on which they cast their reflections. Water puts in communication different realities. People are understanding the importance of natural spaces and the city is transforming to achieve a sustainable development. A new Renaissance is on sight for Milan: the ecology - oriented interventions aim to achieve the perfect balance of the city with nature. The canal is becoming the decompression point for the city: a place where people go to relief the struggle of the city.

My Role/Responsibilities

Service design, UX design

Process

Research

History and present of Naviglio Martesana

Naviglio Martesana and its importance for commerce and agriculture in history brought along the spatial interventions next to the canal banks. Throughout time the banks were getting more and more physical structures.

The accumulation of architecture in the case of Naviglio Martesana is significant since it was not happening on vertical level, one above the other, but horizontally, leaning on or penetrating existing structures. That being the case, traces of built history are still visible today. Through they materiality they generate poetic images that trigger the imagination of still-alive past and possible future lifestyles around the canal. The first of built next to the canal were private villas of the nobles that had distinct relationship with the canal. Canal symbolized the extension and the unique element of the garden. Having the above in mind villas would usually have gardens facing the canal and balconies above water. Though the canal always remained public, it was privatized in the mind of the nobles through its closeness to the house.

Today with the development of the city increase of the population and democratization of the public space the canal is more public than ever, affecting the lifestyle inside the villas.

Even though the south side of the canal is accessible to public, pedestrian and bicycles, there are no barriers stopping the eye to travel on the other side of Naviglio Martesana, resulting in heavy curtains on the walls and masonry fencing on the elevated gardens.

The victory of railways as a dominant way of transport over navigation has been triumphed with numerous viaducts leaving from Milan’s Centrale Station and crossing over Naviglio Martesana. The intervention created astonishing images and ambientes for passersby but also the shelter for those who don’t have a roof over their head. The triumph of railways spread also on the canal banks where parts of the land were used for installing the necessary infrastructure for maintaining the railways.

When the la Branca factory was first bombed and then demolished its wall has been preserved and in the inside of it the public park was made. Using the free-time and leisure as a common program thread along the canal, numerous parks have been attached to the pedestrian and bicycle lanes that follow the canal. Parks varying in dimensions and contents in more or less successful measure manage to attract the passengers and offer new ways of interpreting the architectural elements in them. One of the cases being playing the tennis against the long wall.

Insights

01

No Pit-stop

Walking along the cycle and pedestrian path on thesouthern side of the canal, the numerous peoplepassing by Naviglio Martesana every day can not findenough stopping points except for a few benches inparks and the neighbouring areas, despite the areabeing full of green spaces and spots where to indulgefor contemplating and resting. The cycle path isalmost 40 kilometers long in its entirety and peoplemight feel the need to stop along the segment theygo along.

02

Functions Overlapping

Wide areas inside Parco Martiri della Libertà Iracheni Vittime del Terrorismo are left bare of elements that define their function. This leads to an overlapping
of functions in certain areas, where regular visitors of the park use the space at their convenience,
and spaces that are completely neglected and underutilized by visitors. The entirety of the area therefore is not exploited in all of its potential.

03

Different Pace

Despite being a few hundred meters away from very crowded, frenetic streets like viale Monza and via Padova, the presence of water slows down the pace of the area in close proximity with the Naviglio. During the sunlight hours, people seem to wander more than walk at the usual Milanese pace. There is a general atmosphere of peacefulness and harmony.

04

Patchwork

Naviglio Martesana is an area with a long history.
By the time passing, a juxtaposition of different architectural styles and destinations of use of the buildings has built up and they coexist together facing the water, as witnesses of the history of the site, made of moments creation and disruption. However, a few people are aware of the fascinating history of Naviglio Martesana.

05

Side to Side

The north side of Naviglio Martesana is mostly public,with the cycle path, the parks, the aggregationspaces. The south side instead, is still dedicated toresidential buildings and private areas that are notaccessible by everyone. However, these two sidesdo not dialog in a cohesive way, the two ends aredetached, despite the presence of traits on thenorth side which are underexploited.

06

Colours vs. Emptiness

Most of the vertical surfaces encountered along
the area were occupied by art, whether it was tiles,street art, graffiti. Most of it was not a designedintervention of organizations or the municipality,rather initiative of local graffiti makers. This mightreflect the urgency of people to express theircreativity but the lack of dedicated spaces or areasto do so.

Observations and interviews

We went on an inspection on the site to collect some real information about people who frequent our area of intervention. We chose user interviews as a method because it was the most convenient and quick way for us to collect relevant data. Our aim with the interviews was to gain an understanding of the provenance of the people we met: Are they from surrounding neighbourhoods? Do they come from outside of Milan? What is the main activities they conduct there? And what is the place's soul according to the people who frequent it?

People who go there regularly are attached to it and feel the soul of Naviglio Martesana, which they identify as a peaceful, relaxing corner of the city. People who go there occasionally don't have the same perception of the place, which they don't often think has a strong identity, and often they are not enticed to come back again.

After inspecting the site, we noticed that the main activities conducted in the area revolve around the sphere of recreation: from cycling to enjoying a drink in Tranvai, Naviglio Martesana identifies a space that is connotated by a relaxed state of mind, where people can recover their balance. However, the facilities provided by the area don’t match the number of people that frequent it: too few bike racks for the number of cyclists that cross the path, too few seatings for the people who stop for a chat after a walk along the canal.

Absence of Water

The map shows how the areas surrounding Naviglio Martesana lack public waters such as municipal and olympic pools, represented by the dots. Swimming pools as facilities attract a big number of users in Milan. As reported by Milanosport, during the three summer months of June, July and August, more than 350.000 accesses occurred in the pools present in the city in 2018. In this context, intervening on the source of water that the canal represents, gains a bigger value, not only to enhance the spatial conditions of a place but also to provide a service of real public interest.

Presence of Water

The area is strongly characterized by the presence of the canal, which has historically been an important articulation for the city of Milan. However, Naviglio Martesana is strongly underused and limited in the activities possible also by the current regulations, despite having great potential. The example of cities like Berlin, Venice, London testifies how the presence of water can be an opportunity for developing innovative services and building place identity.

Thermal Baths

Roman Thermae were initially both public and private complexes mainly for bathing in ancient Rome. Besides their main function of maintaining hygiene these places were also serving for socializing, relaxing and reading. Thermae were composed out of multiple rooms arranged around atrium. The rooms were differing by the way in which water was used in them. The three main features were the tepidarium, warm room, the caldarium, hot room, and frigidarium, the cold room. Besides these some thermae were equipped by steam room and sauna as well. Men and women were separated in different rooms for bathing.

The concept of thermae traveled through time and cultures and its next famous iteration were the hammams, popular spaces in the Islamic world. Its use was tightly connected with both civic and religious purposes. Its layout was grounded on the principal of Roman thermae but it featured the undressing room. In hammams instead of standing water the running water was used for hygiene and the soap was used for cleaning. Another iteration of hammams was the Victorian Turkish bath that became popular as a therapy, method of cleansing and relaxation in the Victorian era in British Empire.

Concept

Mudha

All of the considerations derived by the data collected on the past and present of Naviglio Martesana, combined with our involvement in the inspection of the area and the investigation of the people who animate it led to our concept. The idea aims at restoring a condition where water is free for the public to access, as in ancient thermal baths. The democratization of waters is strongly connected to the history of Naviglio Martesana and has its roots in what was called “diritto dell’acquedotto”, which stated that everyone had the right to tap into the water of the canal for irrigation at the condition of providing to its maintenance. Moreover, our concept aims at valorizing an element as simple as water through its spectacularization, by including it in its variety of statuses, features and possibilities of use.

Mudha
/ˈmuda/

For the Celts, the founders of Milan, mudha means change. We chose a word with ancient origins to celebrate the deep roots of the city. The word change is both representative of a new image and identity for Naviglio Martesana and of the essence of water and its capacity of bringing constant evolution through its flow, as praised in the famous formula of Panta rei.

Main Elements of the Site

Water

Water is the protagonist of our project. To enhance it in all of its potentials, we chose to exploit the spatial conditions determined by the arches to simulate the different statuses in which water can be found in nature. Human- made and nature-made meet in a combination aimed at creating a unique experience for the user.

Arches

In the area of mudha , four arches highlight where the canal and the railway meet. The water, the shapes and spatial conditions enhance two main elements: sound and light.Under the arches, the sound spreads, amplifies and bounces echo effects.

To accompany the sound, light plays a key role. Sunlight is reflected off the walls in fluid patterns in constant motion. The interior is darker and this absence of light emphasizes its presence with games and contrasts.

Interview Synthesis

Using the four hues of the SimpleStage identity as a starting point, I expanded the color palette to accommodate the needs of the platform’s complex dashboard system.

Persona

A persona was built based on the data collected to help drive decision making and keep the product focused on solving users pain points, frustrations, and goals.

Ideate

Cooking up a better experience

To kick-off the design process, quick sketches helped me get ideas on paper to establish which elements were necessary for each screen. A low fidelity prototype was then created for initial user testing.

User Flow

The primary user flow is the process of searching, saving and sharing with friends.

Site Map

YUM's simple information structure makes it easy to navigate and move through tasks.

Sketches

Rough sketches were done to get my initial thoughts on paper and brainstorm new ideas for specific UI elements.

Low-Fidelity Prototypes

Using the feedback and insights gained from research, analysis and sketching, a how-fidelity prototype was created to begin user testing.

Usability Study

A usability study was conducted to determine where improvements could be made and identify new ideas to satisfy user expectations, needs, and desires.

Pain Points
01

Source of restaurant review was unclear

02

Quick save option not available, had to specify which list to save to

03

Emphasis on photos made it difficult to find type of food and restaurant ratings

New Ideas
01

Use color to differentiate YUM's suggestions from a users saved restaurants

02

Remove multi-step process to find social icons and make immediately visible

03

Add a moment of delight to let the user know a restaurant was saved

Design

A focus on simplicity

Inspiration was drawn from fine dining restaurants with a focus on minimal yet functional simplicity. The UI design reflects the user's desire to have a clutter free, curated look and feel.

Logos
Typography & Color

Solution

A highly curated experience

YUM makes the process of finding a restaurant, saving it for later, and sharing it with friends simple and engaging. It connects people to a social network of fellow foodies and only suggests restaurants that match up with each user's preferences and positively reviewed and rated dining experiences.

Sign In

Intro screen and onboarding

Search

Users land on the map screen after signing in and when opening the app, making searches quick and easy.

Save

After finding a restaurant, users can then save it and add it to as many lists as they'd like

Share

After saving they can share it with their friends or friend groups

Social Feed

Users can follow friends and read their reviews or write a review and share pictures of their own dining experiences

Profile & Lists

Profiles feature a recommendation section where users can add their top rated spots

Discover

YUM recommends restaurants based on a users location, friends, saved restaurants, and their positive posts and reviews.

Problems Solved
01

Integrates all needs into one streamlined experience

02

Suggests more personalized restaurant recommendations

03

Supports social connection and engagement

04

Saves favorites for quick reference later

05

Gives users more flexibility to create specialized lists

06

Provides a source of reputable reviews from trusted friends and influencers

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