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New circulation standards

Facilitating smoother interactions in the future vertical cities

This project reimagines the reality of what transportation will look like in 2040. Building high structures has become a common response to rapid urbanization in contrast to sprawling. According to the UN, 68% of the world population is projected to live in urban areas by 2050. The utopian vertical city is now a close reality and represents many opportunities to ensure that people who inhabit these spaces still interact and feel connected to one another.

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The problem


Vertical cities take the amenities of the horizontal city block and stacks them vertically. This stacking results in the densification of cities but is not without consequences on the wellbeing of residents. According to NCBI, high rise apartment buildings present challenges for people’s quality of life, resulting in social isolation. Through this project we address how to promote a sense of community and social interaction in these new environments.


When transitioning from horizontal to vertical, our elevators become our cars, our public transport. The elevator has become a place associated with awkward encounters leading to uncomfortable situations sometimes. This project reinvents the elevator experience making it more interactive yet respects that not everyone has the same interaction needs.

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The solution

We approached the problem from 3 different scales and designed a solution that responds to every level. First wee propose an efficient and simple transportation system for elevator rides. Second, we explore the person-to-person interaction inside the elevator by creating a interactive experience. Finally we design an interface that will allow users to navigate the system more efficiently and take advantage of the proposed interactive experience to create a stronger sense of community.


Different types of lifts account for different types of transportation according to distance, price, privacy and efficiency. By imagining the various types of elements that constitute the vertical system of transportation, we can better understand the context in which the interactive experience is going to happen. This vertical system mimics in some way the rhythm and variety of transportation methods of the current horizontal system.

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In order to respect people´s different perceptions of personal space, we created a system where the user defines their personal bubble size before entering the elevator as well as the level of interaction they are comfortable with. The elevator is filled with particles, and your personal bubble repulse the particles in order to create space around you. We are playing with the idea that the more people get close to each other, the more space they have.


The creation of an interface helps to bridge the gap between the system and the user, but also between users, interconnecting them to each other and making their commute more enjoyable and easy. The users can plan his trip in advance, control their interaction parameters, and also connect with people they have crossed paths with. 

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The prototype


The elevator space is filled with particles. When someone walks in, the particles get pushed away to create a personal space bubble around that person. When more people get close to each other, their bubbles merge into a larger one.

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Space: Built with fabric and piping tubes

Particles: Projected on the walls (ideally on the ground) with a projector

Body: Detected by the Kinect

Movement: Coded on Processing

The outcome


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