My immediate response to this question is no!
However, as I sit here and think about it a bit more I realize that it can actually be a desirable thing to feel crowded in some instances. Of course we never want to be in crowded spaces for extended periods of time. Studies indicate sever negative consequences when we have been exposed to crowded spaces for long durations of time. Some of these consequences include increased stress, unhealthy and enlarged adrenal glands, higher levels of illness, and in some cases decreased mental stability. Judging by this information one can easily confirm that it is never desirable to be in crowded spaces.
On the other hand, I believe there are many instances where it just might be viewed as a positive thing for the space to be crowded on a short term basis. How many fond memories do you have of a time during which you happened to be in a crowded space? Think about it-can you recall the last time you were at a live concert watching one of your favorite artists? Those spaces are typically very crowded, but no one seems to mind.
In fact, this instance would feel quite awkward if it was not crowded to the brim. I can only imagine how weird I would feel if I was the only person in a large open space screaming, “Elvis, I love you!” at the top of my lungs! The crowd in this situation is truly part of the experience of the overall event.
Some other situations where crowding can benefit the experience of our environments might include a crowded night club line, a packed camp hall or a bustling sports arena. The experience of each one of these spaces depends, in a large part, on the level and density of the crowd in it.
It is our human nature to assume that if there is a long line outside of a location then the event inside must important. If it was a run-of-the-mill event why would so many people be wanting to attend, right? This occurs very often at nightclubs and bar entrances. I have even heard that it is common for door security to intentionally hold people outside even though their occupancy loads will allow more people to enter. This increases the visibility of the line and therefore the desire to get to that incredible event. This instantly makes the space more desirable. The only thing that changed was the density of the crowd.
On a similar note, crowds feed off of each other. Let’s think about any major sporting event.
The crowd of the event feeds off the energy of each other. Just watch out if the particular home team is doing poorly. The good news is that even if the crowd does become unruly another benefit of crowded spaces is that we naturally become more alert in them. Obviously extreme crowding is not a natural state for us. Because of this, our bodies are reacting to the exterior elements by being more alert than it is in its natural state. This not only is beneficial when it comes to our personal safety, but it also allows us to experience our surroundings more intensely due to our heightened sense of awareness.
The design of our environments and how we consider the need for some cases of crowding is important. Just think what would happen if we designed a concert hall to be too large for the type of concerts to be held in it or if the space a large crowd was about to go into was too small to handle everyone and their heightened senses? The outcome and overall experience of the spaces would be undesirable. We never want to design spaces that cause extreme crowding in our designs for long-term occupancy spaces. However, we undoubtedly need to consider the implementation of crowding in our spaces for the enhancement of circumstantial experiences.