The first round of “How might we”
At this stage, we were trying to form our “How Might We Statement”.
Here is our first four “How might we” statements, inspired by the first round of interviews as well as our own interests:
- How might we make healthy options more accessible and affordable?
- How might we make encourage cooking on campus/improve the cooking environment?
- How might we better provide information for informed food choices (mindful)?
- How to improve the social eating experience?
Our group put it to a vote, and we eventually chose ”How to improve the social eating experience?”, with a focus on the experience of eating alone on campus.
But this raised a few considerations. One, do those who eat alone not like eating alone? And two, is it really a problem?
After much discussion, we decided to focus on the eating environment instead because changing the social situation of eating alone did not seem very meaningful. Furthermore, as each part of NTU has a canteen, students are considered to be well-served in terms of convenience and accessibility. Hence, we went back to our insights and thought of improving some parts of the eating environment, such as minimising the frustration of the lunch crowds, queues and difficulty in finding seats.
Once again, we were back at the Empathy stage, to understand how students felt about NTU’s eating environment.
We first conducted an online survey with 34 respondents.
We asked them about which place on campus they feel has the worst eating environment. 50% chose Koufu as the worst.
When asked about how they feel when they eat at their worst eating environment, 30% said they felt worried and anxious, 18% felt anger and sadness.
20 respondents ranked hygiene as the most important factor for eating environments, among 5 other factors including the physical infrastructure (aesthetics and arrangement), ventilation (air flow, air condition, smell), sound (noise level, music), accessibility and crowd.
The respondents are not very satisfied with hygiene levels in their chosen environment, with most respondents choosing 4 out of 10 in terms of satisfaction.
To further validate the importance of our project focus, we did some secondary research as well.
According to a study conducted in a University in China, the quality of food service (food, service, environment) not only directly relates to students’ health, but also have an impact on students’ mental attitude, happiness, learning effectiveness and influences students’ overall satisfaction of schools (Binge, Xufen, Guoying, Chunyue, & Tingting, 2012).
Redesigning one piece of furniture – the table – which is the one piece of furniture that was problematic and also made up a large portion of the food court. The concept was to have a tray-table system where the table top was replaced by a removable tray. This meant the tables could never be dirty, since there no longer would be tables – essentially removing the problem. New trays and the fixtures for ‘docking’ them would need to be installed in the food courts. Additionally, since the trays are removed when not in use, traffic through the food courts may be improved.
Design of Space & the “culture of clean”
Changing the entire environment of the food court with key elements such as sunlight, sanitising cutlery, a tray washing system and overall enforcing a “culture of clean” through environmental pressure.
Idea 3 – Making use of unused spaces
This idea stemmed from the idea that we could have eating spaces away from the cooking spaces. This idea was more focused on how we could improve ventilation for the eating spaces, since ventilation is the second most important category, yet also the least satisfied category. Some unused spaces we thought of were in the Hive, and the rooftop of ADM.
We would then show the seating capacity and availability of these places through a mobile application to help guide patrons to an available location.