Colpatria tower – A media facade in the Andes

Colpatria tower. &Copy; Steven King, Philipps proyectos Colombia With 49 floors and a total height of 196 meters the Colpatria tower is the highest building of Colombia. It is in Bogotá, the capital city, and since its completion in 1979 it has always played a predominant role in the city’s landscape. The viewpoint at the top of the tower lets appreciate the extension of the city in all four directions.

The tower was first illuminated in 1998 with color lights. This system only allowed to change the colors of the tower and create some basic compositions. However, in 2013 the tower became a new LED system that allows the display of pictures and videos. The resulting media facade is 120 meters high and covers the area between the 12th and the 46th floors.

Colpatria tower. &Copy; Steven King, Philipps proyectos Colombia Learn more about the colpatria tower

3D Print canal house

3D Print Canal House &Copy; DUS architects - The 3D Print Canal House is a unique research project that combines history and future: a canal house is 3D-printed in full size with a large yet transportable 3D printer called KamerMaker (Room maker). The printer, developed specially for this project, is inspired by the ultimaker, a “small-scale” open source 3D printer. In fact, KamerMaker works in a similar way: a 3D model is loaded and sliced in layers that are created one by one by the printer. By overlapping multiple layers it is possible to create 3D forms -and a house.

The building project aims to show that digital production techniques can offer flexible and affordable housing solutions for different situations around the world. For example, the needs of people living in slums or in disaster areas might be also fulfilled such a technique. However, an estimate of the production costs can be only be given once the 3D printed canal house is completed.

KammerMaker &Copy; DUS architects - Watch a video of the 3D Print Canal House…

Homebrew sensing project – Citizen science

Homebrew spectrometer © Jeff Warren
In the everyday life we might get in touch with hazardous chemicals even without noticing it. Building materials, fabric dyes, additives in food and contaminants resulting from fracking can expose us to hazardous materials. This can have a serious impact on the health of whole communities. When the effects of chemical exposure and the resulting health problems become evident, the community affected faces a complex and often lengthy process to demonstrate the presence and the impact of such chemicals in their environment.

If a community realizes that its environment is being affected by chemicals it would normally have to collect and send samples to a laboratory. Such process can be quite expensive due to the highly specialized equipment and the expert roles involved in the analysis. However such analyses can be simplified by creating affordable yet reliable tools that enable the citizens to collect and analyze samples of for example water, and test the presence of toxic materials such as mercury.

The homebrew sensing project supports the creation of reliable and open tools that can be used by non-experts. The project focuses specifically on spectrometry, a powerful method to identify materials. To achieve this, the initiators have developed a low-cost spectrometer that allows anyone to carry out spectrometric analyses at home, empowering common people to obtain information about hazardous materials in their environment.

Homebrew sensing project © Jeff Warren Watch a video of the spectrometer… – Altruism in the digital age

© - Fund raising for local communities is about supporting altruism at a local scale through on-line tools. While it has a similar structure to other donor sites, it focuses on projects that are intended for a specific location and are started by certain organizations. privileges quality and close connections with local structures.

Not every person can start a project in Only neighborhood groups, governmental entities and some qualified non-profits can submit their ideas and raise funds through Individuals should team up with such organizations to submit projects. The restriction assures a minimum level of quality and of support for the projects. This is a distinctive characteristic of that prioritizes quality over quantity.

© - Fund raising for local communities (more…)

SCSD – Smart citizen sentiment dashboard

Smart Citizen Dashboard © Nina Valkanova and Moritz Behrens
Smart citizen sentiment dashboard (SCSD) is an interactive installation that visualizes the feelings of São Paulo’s citizens regarding some of the challenges faced by the city. The project collects the feedback of the citizens through a simple interface, and shows this data in the media facade of the Galeria de Arte Digital (FIESP). In this way SCSD transforms the media facade of FIESP into a point for social encounter where some of the issues affecting the quality of life in the city can be openly discussed. The installation was created by Nina Valkanova and Moritz Behrens with the support from Verbe Cultural and Galeria de Arte Digital do SESI-SP.

For the realization and development of the project the artists organized workshops with some inhabitants of São Paulo. The workshops let them identify some of the most pressing issues of the city and gave them important input for the design of the installation. The participatory strategy also let the artists translate the questions of the citizens into a visually appealing language that could deliver a message about the quality of life in the city, and at the same time be easily understood by anyone.

The dashboard gives the participants the opportunity to comment on five different issues namely, environment, mobility, security, housing, and public space. By swiping an RFID card over the interface they can easily express if they are happy, dissatisfied or if that particular issue is indifferent to them. However, the project is not only about playful interactions. The data provided by the participants is collected and stored in a sentiment database that is also visualized and displayed in the FIESP’s media facade. Thus, the smart citizen sentiment dashboard shows the general mood of the city and highlights the points where more work is needed.

Workshops Smart Citizen Dashboard © Nina Valkanova and Moritz Behrens Smart citizen sentiment dashboard © Nina Valkanova and Moritz Behrens Watch a video of Smart citizen sentiment dashboard

Fruit city – Mapping fruit trees

Fruit city map &copy, - Vahakn Matossian Fruit city is an online application that lets the users map fruit trees in London. The project offers a handful of tools that encourage the collection of fruits within the city. In this way the initiators want to promote the use of available resources, avoid the wasting of edible goods and support an environmentally friendly food system.

A great portion of the fruits sold in cities come from distant places such as Brazil, Chile or South Africa. While this supports the economy of those countries, the transport of goods has a considerable footprint . Growing food locally has gained importance in recent years as a way to create a sustainable food system. The idea of fruit map is to use food sources that are already available in cities and provide helpful information to the citizens on how to do that. (more…)

Discovery wall – Zoom into medical research

Discovery wall - media installation © Hirsch & mann | Squint/Opera Discovery wall is an art installation created as a recognition for the donors that made possible the completion of the Belfer research building, part of the Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan. It was conceived and developed by the creative agencies Squint/Opera and Hirsch&Mann, which won the commission for the artwork in an international competition.

The artwork celebrates the opening, early in 2014, of the new Belfer research building, which was dedicated to biomedical research. Discovery wall, approximately 4.8m x 2.7m large, comprises hundreds of tiny screens and circular acrylic disc that magnify the images displayed by them. This magnifying effect is a direct reference to the medical research activities and the key aesthetic and conceptual element of the installation. The passers-by would see something from the distance that draws they to see more and more information.

The double layer, screens and lenses, creates a unique visual effect, as the wall will look as whole from a long distance while the screens can be appreciated as single elements when looked closely. The creators use this characteristic to create large-scale visuals with smaller images, taken from the archives of the Belfer research center. Thanks to its set-up, the installation shows the research and the discoveries achieved in the Belfer’s building, in a way that is visually appealing and can be enjoyed from the street or from the lobby.

Discovery wall - media installation © Hirsch & mann | Squint/Opera Discovery wall - media installation © Hirsch & mann | Squint/Opera Watch the making of discovery wall…

Stereopublic – The hunt for quiet places

Stereopublic is a both an app and an online map that let the people of some cities geo-tag quiet places in their surroundings. The project is a collaborative effort that encourages the people to navigate their cities and consciously enjoy the sound scape. The goal is to create world-wide database that lets the people find relaxing places in the city.

Our vision plays a predominant role in the way we experience the world and many environments are focused on the visual aspects of things. Stereopublic makes us aware of the sound scape of our cities and how a quiet place can also provide a great pleasure for our senses. In a way, stereopublic creates a new sort of citizen, an audio flâneur, someone who wanders around looking for those places that are not only pleasurable for our eyes but also for our ears.

The stereopublic map of London. Stereopublic - A hunt for quiet places © If you want to become part of the hunt for quiet places you can download the stereopublic app for free and start wandering around your city. Once you find a new or your favorite quiet place, you can create a geo-tagged entry for it in the map and give it a color according to your current mood. If you really enjoy that moment you can take a 30 seconds long record and upload it, so that the whole world can have a bit of your quietness.

The length of the recordings require a particular pace, as you need to expend 30 seconds in the place that you want to record. Half a minute can be short for many, but in a busy city it can be a lot of time, so taking part in the project demands also a certain state of mind. Some of the recordings are enhanced with compositions made by Jason Sweeney, the author of the project.

Stereopublic won a City 2.0 TED Prize award and was also supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding & advisory body, the Government of South Australia through Arts SA, Adelaide City Council.

Stereopublic credits

Video: Jason Sweeney
Devised, directed and composed by Jason Sweeney
Creative Producer: Martin Potter
Interactive Producer: Nick Crowther
Designer: Amy Milhinch
Design Studio: Freerange Future and the team of:
Yuri Tománek, David Walker, Deanna Daminato,
Lisa Iacopetta, Abdul Rauf, Minka Park.
Architectural Consultant: Dale Wright

Tangible Orchestra – Walking through the music

Tangible Orchestra - interactive installation at Royal mile, Edinburgh - © Rebecca Gischel and Sebastian Walter Tangible orchestra is an interactive installation that uses light and sound to create a playful experience. It was exhibited at Royal Mile, Edinburgh. The installation comprises seven cylinders equipped with lights, loudspeakers and ultrasonic sensors. When a person approximates a cylinder, the latter will blink and reproduce the sound of a particular instrument. All together create an interactive musical composition that changes together with the movements of the spectators.

The perception of each spectator is unique because the sounds reproduced by the cylinders will change depending on to the position of the person. This characteristic encourages the people to walk around, jump towards or even hug the cylinders. If enough people is engaging with the installation a complete musical work will be slowly assembled. To create the piece played by the tangible orchestra both electronic and classical orchestra instruments were used, creating interesting contrasts that fluctuate between electronic, repetitive rhythms and the melodies of classical instruments.
Tangible Orchestra - interactive installation at Royal mile, Edinburgh - © Rebecca Gischel and Sebastian Walter Watch a video of Tangible orchestra…

Leerstandmelder – Mapping of vacant spaces

Leerstandmelder is an online map that allows city inhabitants to report vacant spaces in their surroundings. The map highlights in this way some of the inequalities created in the city by long-term vacant spaces, as such could be inhabited or used by people in need for them. According to a report released by The guardian many of the empty spaces in Europe are bought just as investment and some have never been used.

The phenomenon has already reached an alarming scale, as approximately 11 million houses remain vacant in Europe. It doesn’t matter if they are old or new, living or industrial spaces, if they are in the centre or the periphery, or if they are public or private. They directly affect people who struggle to find affordable flats and work spaces in their cities.