Slowing Down

Sequential Perspective Analyzes detail and its effects on perception of speed.

The project critiques our modern society’s obsession with productivity, and a fast-paced way of living that is detrimental to our health and wellbeing. Taking time to slow down and find moments of pause and calm can alleviate the stress and anxiety that has become all too familiar. Moments of pause can, in fact, be found navigating the city if you slow down enough to notice. This project repurposes a once congested and provoking speedway through the city into an elevated landscape garden, friendly to those who are looking to gain some perspective in their day-to-day life, inviting one to come and stay a moment. The aim of the research is to investigate our societies fixation with productivity, and our expectations regarding it. Searching for a sense of calm amongst the busyness and speed of the day-to-day grind. Dr. Stephanie Brown speaks about our society’s self-destructive addiction to this kind of faster living.”

This is progress in America. You always move forward and there are no limits to how far you can go or how fast you can get there. Don’t pause, don’t reflect. You win or lose. You’ll fall behin and fail if you stop moving. Fast at any cost is the mantra of a stressed and distressed American society today
Dr Stephanie Brown

Johnathon Porritt echoes Dr Brown’s sentiments stating that “an essential attribute of our progress model - in which consumption substitutes for quality of life - is that the faster you can do something, the better it must be.” I believe that our quality of life is increased when we step aside from our speed addiction into a moment of calm. This idea comes through in the poem Adlestrop by Edward Thomas, where he depicts an express train that makes an unwanted stop where “no one left and no one came” but if it wasn’t for this stop there would have been so much to be missed, such as the “willows, willow-herb, and grass, and meadowsweet, and haycocks dry, no whit less still and lonely fair than the high cloudlets in the sky.”

The intention of this research is to create an opportunity for pause during the business of hurrying on to the next thing, and perhaps, contains the right set of circumstances to permit a longer stay. Through the drawing research, I have identified core elements that contribute to a calming feeling evoked by the physical surroundings, such as an extended walk through a contracted space that opens up to a destination with a view, giving space both physically and mentally. There is a sense of reveal when transitioning between these spaces where the view is not clear until the transition is complete.

This experience of transitioning between these spaces is likened to the bodily experience of anxiety (something that is associated with our productivity-focused society), where the chest becomes tight and the shoulders curl inwards making the body smaller. In contrast, an opening up of space allows the body to become big again, a much more freeing state. Having this contrasting sequence makes the feeling of relief more apparent. This is supported by the argument John Berger makes in Ways of Seeing, where “the meaning of an image can be changed according to what you see beside it or what comes after it”. Here, instead of one image after another, it is one spatial experience after another.

An additional element is a view which gives the observer a wider context and therefore a feeling of being grounded in the place they are in. They are now able to see much more than in the previous anonymous passage of travel and situate themselves in the context of the landscape or city. The research concludes with c composing the relationship between the elongated space of contraction with the expanded nodal space, as well as the event of walking and movement to the event of stopping and looking.


  1. Dr Stephanie Brown.“Society’s Self-Destructive Addiction to Faster Living”
  2. Edward Thomas.Adlestrop(1917)
  3. John Berger. Ways of Seeing, Penguin Classics (2008)

Concept Sketches of Intervention The intervention co-opts part of this Toronto highway into an elevated landscape garden creating a literal slowing of movement.

Precedent Study of Temple of Apollo at Stourhead Gardens Perspectival studies of the experience of moving towards, around, and within the temple. Looking at how it acts as a landmark, and then a frame to view the surrounding environment.

The pavilion acts as a circular threshold to the garden, inviting one to stay here longer, offering different frames such that the viewer can gain different perspectives of the city, and maybe even themselves.