Destination: The Swimming Complex
Here are some pictures from my journey in order:
This past Monday after a long day of classes my friends and I decided to go swimming on campus. As exchange students, we’ve been trying to explore as much of this area as we can in the little time that we have. Unfortunately, I am only familiar with Hall 9 to the ADM building (off by memory alone), so this made it exceptionally hard to navigate without a GPS. Although, when I told my friends they were all up for the challenge! We all decided to meet up at North Spine, which was an anchor for us in terms of referencing our orientation.
In the center of North Spine, there is map outlining the facility and the departments within. The map had a “you are here” sign which we really appreciated because it allowed us to find our way to the bus stops. We figured the bus stop was the best option to help us move forward because there are maps near every single one. While walking to the bus stop I saw two exit signs; one near “Frank by OCBC” and the other by the “Global Lounge” leading us downstairs. There was a second orientation map while going downstairs and then again at the very bottom (at the bus stop). What I noticed is that the map at the bottom was flipped to the side, which was quite unusual for me because I have never seen it placed in a way that placed North Spine on the left side of the map. Regardless, we jotted down buildings with distinct features that could act as a reference for us while on the bus. For the most part, all I knew is that I had to be on the “red bus” for more than 5 stops because it was well past the Chinese Heritage Center.
While on the bus I noticed a sign saying Sports and Recreation Center, so I figured the Swimming complex must be in that direction. We got off the bus and proceed to walk up a hill, after passing the sign the road broke off into three possible routes for us to take. From my memory of the map, the path to the Swimming Complex was short so we decided to take the first left onto Nanyang Hill. While we were walking up I asked what seemed to be a construction worker who was coming down on the other side of the road what was up this street but there was a language barrier that made it hard to communicate. We continued to walk up and saw the building that said NTU Sport Shooting Club. We walked back down the hill and returned to the intersection. Then one of my friends saw another sign that said sports on it so we followed the next path along Nanyang Hill. As we approached the building there were three separate entrances so we went to the “General Office” to ask some clarification question on how to enter and the hours of operation. When we turned the corner the noticed that the general office sign was pointing to a gym of students playing sports. There appeared to be no general office on site. We decided to leave that door and proceed to walk to the next two entrances. This is when I saw a sign saying “Swimming Complex”. We were relieved, to say the least, because walking up Nanyang Hill had made us a little tired. I approached the front the desk and asked about the rules/important things to note while swimming here.
Finally, we were free to swim!
I felt that the signages were quite rudimentary and were not intended for a newcomer, but instead more of a person who has a general idea of their orientation. On the other hand, I do like how the design of the signages were all consistent – bold yellow font against the blue painted wood. My overall takeaways are that the campus is fairly confusing, there are lots of roads that meander, but I would not have difficulty if I studied the bus roots fully. I think by next week I should have everything memorized if I continue to keep touring around. One thing I would advise is having the maps along the bus root be identical to the orientation in real life (in terms of north, south, east, west). This was a very thought-provoking task and made me imagine what people back in the day did without technology – create a mental map with anchor points based on unique landmarks. This exercise also made me realize how dependent I am on my phone to navigate. It was nice to take a break from technology and analyze the placemaking design around campus through a different perspective.
Nice response Rebecca. I agree that it’s confusing how NTU maps are not oriented N-S-E-W. Having universal consistency would be helpful here. And yes, we are very dependent on our GPS for way finding, but staring at the screen to navigate is another visually designed and mediated way of finding your way…and not all things are mapped. So, the challenge is how to gain an understanding of NTU campus through various senses of way finding.