Revolving doors – an examination (Laurier #4 of 4)

Improbable has been profiling the work of Dr. Eric Laurier who is a Senior Lecturer in Geography & Interaction, Institute of Geography & the Lived Environment, University of Edinburgh. Dr. Laurier specialises in the study of ordinary life, as that life happens. A new paper is currently being written in association with Alexandra Weilenmann (University of Gothenburg) and Daniel Normark (Karolinska Institutet & University of Gothenburg) and is awaiting publication in Space and Culture, Special Issue on Mobile Formations ‘Managing Walking Together: The Challenge of Revolving Doors’.

This paper begins with an observation about doors in general :

“Doors are underestimated inventions, enabling us to enjoy the protection of walls without enclosing us in solitude.”

And then turns to a special subclass :

“There is a peculiar type of door, which is in a sense open and closed at the same time: the revolving door. While the revolving door is a wall-hole as well, there are a number of obvious differences between a revolving door and the ‘regular’ notion of a door that reformulates many of the before-mentioned the problems.”

Then, in more detail :

“The design of the revolving door reformulates the delegation of a door closer (cf Latour, 1988). Quite simply it means that as you open the door you also close it, and the action of closing the door therefore does not have to be delegated to a person or a hinge mechanism. However, while this design solves the problem of making sure that the door is never left open, how we can move through the door is also changed. The door now has slots that walkers have to fit into, slot [sic] that have to be entered into and exited in a timely fashion or the walker turns into Charlie Chaplin being either unable to leave or rotated back inside the building they just exited.”

Finally, conclusions are drawn :

• On approach, members of a together analyse trajectories toward the door and
establish who will become the first to pass through it.
• Members of the group make their selection process visible through shifts in
gait & posture and changes in speed.
• After passing through the door, the members of the group wait or adjust their
speed so as to allow for the others to catch up.
• When using different doors, the speed is maintained, while spatial proximity is
lost. The lack of spatial proximity needs to be repaired.

This concludes our short Improbable profile of Dr. Laurier, whose unique, extensive and intriguing scholarly oeuvre is catalogued here.

Further reading on doors: Approachability: How People Interpret Automatic Door Movement as Gesture International Journal of Design, 3(2).