Nirvana Play: Short-Term Play on Academic Campuses
The undergraduate student experience is a unique phase of life, encompassing independence, social group membership, self-identity formation and changing support systems. In addition to their social evolution, students strive to perform well, driven by self and familial expectations, and peer competition native to collegiate environments.
I explored these experiences at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), particularly with respect to a student’s work-life balance and how nonacademic campus spaces play a role in affecting the personal and social emotional environment for students on campus. In my research, I uncovered a persistent state of anxiety resulting from a constant focus on the self, a worldview limited to the CMU work-home bubble and peer-induced stress - all of which contributed to a negatively heightened emotional environment.
Non-academic spaces provided on campus, such as recreational, exercise, eating and green savannah and garden spaces, which aimed to serve as coping mechanisms, were found to be difficult to access on a regular basis for various reasons, such as scheduling issues, membership requirements, inconvenient visibility and further, some facilities were found to be overcrowded or had broken equipment. Hence, they did not successfully allow students daily opportunities to mentally suspend themselves from their anxiety.
My project looks at transitional environments as new sites for short playful interactions. The Nirvana Play pole is a technologically enhanced environment platform that is embedded on existing infrastructure present within the landscape of a campus i.e. street light posts in outdoor pathways.It has been designed to currently run three applications - the Shadow, the Tower and the Swarm. It aims to provide students with daily opportunities to break away and mentally suspend their anxiety. It strives to contribute to the creation of a preferred emotional environment