Think | Exploring urban environments – A Designed Subconscious Experience for Improved Citizen’s Well-being

By 2050, over half of the population are expected to be living in urban areas, yet people living in the city have a 21% increased risk of anxiety disorders and a 39% increased risk of mood disorders.

George Street, Edinburgh, has been a key case study for myself to rethink and examine the urban landscape’s design and its influence on urban citizens. Speculatively redesigning the design regulations and principles, I have delivered a subconscious experience which hypothetically iterates the importance and need for improved stimulation within urban environments for the better of citizen well-being. To deliver this, I formulated a business proposal called ‘Think’, suitable persona representations, visualisations of research and supporting insight material.

Brain stimulation is a proven catalyst for improved and boosted well-being for outlook and everyday engagements. Creating brain stimulation subconsciously through colour wavelengths, unpredictability and multi-sensor,: new active pathways within one’s brain will be formed.
Carrying out interactive workshops which examined the brain activity contrast between children and ages 40-60 has inspired me to work around children’s subconscious hierarchy of priorities, resulting in me being able to deliver a business proposal, personas and research materials.
Capitalising on the idea of exploring over exploiting, likelihood of neural pathways in the brain as one ages will be reduced – forming a healthy brain through this subconscious experience.

Interactive Research Workshop

As a research method technique, I designed an interactive workshop which could be done remotely by a number of participants. I created a story-building exercise which let me understand the subconscious of over 20 children (ages 6-8). Rather than working with words, I wanted to work with a storytelling, drawing and colouring exercise. This workshop taught me the user group's needs, desires, fears, self-expression, outlook. The act of story-building and storytelling relates to a child's psychological method called 'Fable' which is when lessons are taught from story. Flipping this recognised method, I aimed to extract the potential lessons from a story which the children make, contrast these to the adults, and reflect these onto my demographic of adults through designed social innovation. Codifying and overlaying the data, I was able to find trends and insights.

Psychological Research

With research and user psychology being a huge passion of mine, I formulated a research and data driven concept and proposal - sticking closely and applying theories, inspiration and methodologies as I went along. Interviews, field research, co-design, engagement tools, ethnographic studies, emotional mapping, infographics and synthesising insights are only a few of the research methods I utilised throughout this project.

Brain Activity Visualisation for Urban Landscape Design

The key theme I picked up through my research is the idea of exploration vs exploitation. This lead me to the theories of an ambidextrous mindset, and how a person can balance both for a ‘healthy brain’. A ‘healthy brain’ is a term used to relate to the idea that a brain is being exercised, stimulated and positively challenged which is proven to prevent and lessen age related diseases, well-being and brain fog. Neural pathways are something which drew me in to question - how can I create new pathways in the brain to create stimulation, physical adaption and brain expansion for creativity and outlook. Psycho-geography (the exploration of urban environments and how it affects someone’s subconscious and conscious), and the idea of ‘being a product of our environment’ were my concluded concept goals in order to generate brain stimulation for improved citizen wellbeing.

Key Insight Cards and Specifications

Case Study - George Street

For this project’s subconscious experience, it only made sense to create a multi-layered user journey. Based on the desk and field research I carried out throughout this project, I wanted to include and apply the layers of my research to one of my personas. The user journey - this essentially is a walk through description of the user’s subconscious experience from start to end on George Street. The next layer is a Brain activity layer. I felt that adding this would help take the viewer in to understand and break-down the invisible brain activity which my user would hypothetically endure during my proposed design. Finally, I had a wellness layer, which included a chart, symbols and descriptions to explain to the viewer how the user journey and brain activity go hand in hand in transforming the user’s well-being.


Persona Cards - These are a useful way to communicate to an audience the need or value of my innovation, so picking the personas whom represented minorities, averages and whole communities was key for me.

Design Principles for Urban Design

Visualising Brain Connections

Business Proposal Document

Subconscious Experience Momentss