Students from The Bartlett, UCL’s Faculty of the Built Environment, spent four days at the Fourth Portal. Using emotional mapping software, students engage people in Great Yarmouth to gauge body reactions to the built environment when walking around the town.
Students and lecturers from UCL The Bartlett Unit 8, Engineering and Architectural Design MEng (MEAD) arrived in Great Yarmouth on Tuesday, 8th November 2022. Establishing themselves at the Fourth Portal, the four-day exercise encouraged public engagement using emotional mapping technology.
Unit 8, Engineering and Architectural Design in Market Row, Great Yarmouth
Day one: Students and lecturers arrive in Great Yarmouth
The group began their stay with an enjoyable visit to the Time and Tide museum before walking across Great Yarmouth as darkness fell. Arriving at the Fourth Portal, they met Gillian Harwood, owner of the buildings where the hub is situated. An overview and introduction to Great Yarmouth followed.
Catch The Tide Museum. Read about this important Great Yarmouth asset here
Day two: Guided tours and meeting local people
Students had two guided tours of historic Great Yarmouth before gathering at the Fourth Portal for an evening event. In the weeks leading up to the visit, the Fourth Portal team had been contacting local businesses, institutions and groups with an open invitation.
Fourth Portal invitation October-November 2022
A range of local people came to discuss the town, including the principal of East Coast College and the chair of the Civic Society. The locally made short film, Love Letter to Row 116 was shown followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker, Karl Trosclair. Enjoyable conversations continued late into the evening. The feedback from attendees and students was positive.
Students and local people discuss Great Yarmouth at the Fourth Portal
Day three: Emotional mapping
Students employed the open-source electronic prototyping platform Arduino to construct emotional maps of Great Yarmouth. The Arduino proved fascinating to everyone coming into the Fourth Portal; even the students seemed excited.
Arduino emotional mapping devices
What is Arduino?
“Arduino designs, manufactures, and supports electronic devices and software, allowing people around the world to easily access advanced technologies that interact with the physical world. Our products are straightforward, simple, and powerful, ready to satisfy users’ needs from students to makers and all the way to professional developers.”https://www.arduino.cc/
Emotional mapping walks
Two finger sensors connected to the Arduino were attached to the volunteers. The sensors measured how the body reacted to different urban environments as the volunteer walked around Great Yarmouth. Students set a pre-defined destination and followed the volunteer, who chose the walking route.
Volunteers and students set off on different walks
Analysing the data
Students worked late into the evening on the data they had gathered. Not all the Arduino boxes worked as was hoped. Data was interrupted for several reasons, including loss of GPS connection. As frustrating as it was for the students, enough data was collected for the exercise and to present results on day 4.
Students analysing data from the emotional mapping walks
Day four: Presenting results
Day four saw the Fourth Portal mind space transformed into a room for student presentations. Each student group presented their findings to professors back at UCL in London. The 3D models provided a fascinating insight into how people react when walking around Great Yarmouth.
Presentations and 3D emotional mapping visualisation of Great Yarmouth
Great Yarmouth would benefit from an extensive study using such technology as Arduino. Engaging a large sample of local people and those new to the town could provide a deeper understanding of what the citizens of Great Yarmouth feel about their hometown. Such an undertaking could be a positive step toward addressing some of the many issues the town suffers.
The UCL students also had a direct beneficial impact on the income of local businesses, particularly accommodation, restaurants and gift establishments. The Fourth Portal will encourage more academic partners to visit Great Yarmouth over the coming year.