The emotion toward the ocean - Designing for visitors’ empathic experience in SEALIFE Helsinki aquarium
School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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AbstractThe ocean is vital to human survival, but it is under severe threat from humans, such as overfishing and unsatisfactory waste management. Raising people's empathy for the ocean is helpful for them to take action to protect the marine ecology. Direct contact with nature is an effective way for people to empathise with nature, and the aquarium is one of the ways for contemporary people to contact the ocean. The purpose of this project is to explore how aquarium service experience could support visitors' empathic resonance with sea life. In the literature review, this thesis research the studies in the field of co-design, service design, empathy and aquarium in order to build the theoretical framework for practical research activities and state the theory for supporting the proposal. The research project conducted interviews with the curator and designer of SEALIFE Helsinki Aquarium, field observation, and held the experience workshop and co-creation workshop. According to the findings and insights derived from the research activities, a proposal containing three measures was proposed by taking service design as the primary method, it includes design principles, empathy engagement activity and the toolkit for the aquarium and designer. The proposal was taken to the feedback workshop with aquarium staff to collect suggestions and feedback. The research discovered different typologies of visitors in the SEALIFE Helsinki Aquarium from the perspective of empathy, which is adults alone, couples, parents, children, and adults with friends. Research has shown that a series of factors in the service system of the aquarium influence the empathy of visitors, including visitor density, multiple sensory experiences (such as the sound and smell of the ocean), material selection, moving methods, expression of information, distance, connection with life, undesirable service touch-points and the motivation and companion of visitors. The sensitivity of the different types of visitors to different factor is different, only information expression and the distance with the marine life shows have a remarkable influence on almost all kinds of visitors. This thesis demonstrates that service design can contribute to supporting visitor's empathy with nature, and explores specific service methods to achieve this. It can be part of sustainable future design, however, this thesis offers only a glimpse to the topic, and the long term influence of the study and its impact is to be seen out of the frame of the thesis.
Thesis advisorHakio, Kirsi
aquarium, service design, empathy toward the ocean, designing for empathic experience, sustainable design, co-creation