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Interaction of Architecture,

Media and Social Phenomena

Jens Geelhaar Frank Eckardt Bernd Rudolf
Sabine Zierold Michael Markert
Interaction of Architecture,
Media and Social Phenomena
Jens Geelhaar Frank Eckardt Bernd Rudolf
Sabine Zierold Michael Markert
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 4
Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena
MediaCity Conference 2010
Bauhaus-Universitt Weimar
Coverdesign by Michael Markert
All articles 2010 by their respective authors
All rights reserved.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 5
From Researching the Virtual
Towards Understanding the Real Urban Life 13
Frank Eckardt
Te Practice of Cybernetic Urbanism 37
Raoul Bunschoten
Daniel Wedler
Sentient City Survival Kit:
Archaeology of the Near Future 45
Mark Shepard
Digital Metropolis: Te Implications of
Information Densifcation for Spatial Society 65
Noah Ives
Interface Design for Shared Spaces 73
Nina Valkanova
Media Architecture as Social Catalyst
in Urban Public Spaces 95
Hendrik Weiner
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 6
Cidadania 141
Rolf Kruse
Pedro Aibo
Where the Action Should Be -
Learning from MicroPublicPlaces 159
Marc Bhlen
Sound as Interface 169
Petros Kataras
Ermis Adamantidis
Alaa Alfakara
Sonic Activation
Spectral Architectural Memories 181
Eva Sjuve
Intelligent Furniture for the Architecture of Tomorrow 189
Matthias Weber
Sebastian Hundertmark
Ursula Damm
Large Screens and Small Screens:
Public and Private Engagement with Urban Projections 201
Geofrey Shea
Michael Longford
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 7
Creativity, Knowledge, Engagement:
Keys to Finding the Right Governance Model
for a Regional Community Precinct 211
Kirralie Houghton
Marcus Foth
Greg Hearn
Urban Overlay 233
Martin Kohler
Kai von Luck
Jens Wille
Boulevard of Production:
A Future Talents Attractor 245
Georg Flachbart
Ivan Redi
New Media as a Catalyst for Integration
in Cross-Border Regions? 269
Jan-Philipp Exner
Guido Kebbedies
Te Mythological City 285
Peter Wendl
MediaCitys Atmospheric Commons 315
Jordan Geiger
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 8
Sensing Digital Identity
and Stimulating Digital Co-Presence 329
Eleni Sotiriou, Marco Krechel, Hugo Loureiro,
Madhav Kidao, Paul Goodship
Public Space 2.0 355
Sandrine von Klot
Drawing Circles
Search on Mobile Devices 369
Mathias Mitteregger
Small Texts?:
Text Messages, Art and Public Spheres 389
Frauke Behrendt
Social Media Platforms as Strategic Models
for Local Community Development 431
Tanya Sndergaard Tof
An Instrument Of Urban Morphology 447
Seung Ra
Te Architecture-Infrastructure Synergy 467
Marthijn N. Pool
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 9
Sustainable Interaction
with Food, Technology, and the City 491
Jaz Hee-jeong Choi
Marcus Foth
Mobile Applications
in Urban Planning 499
Karsten M. Drohsel
Peter Fey
Stefan Hfen
Stephan Landau
Dr. Peter Zeile
Adaptive Architecture
A Conceptual Framework 523
Holger Schndelbach
Mobile Node:
Open Portable Infrastructure
Overlapping Digital Paths 557
Efan Foglia
Cyberspace as a Locus for the Sustainability
of Urban Collective Memory 571
Segah Sak
Burcu enyapl
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 10
Interactive Spaces -
Reactivating Architectural and Urban Space by Tracing the Non-
Visual 589
Katja Knecht
Kyd Campbell
Te Facadeprinter
A Distance Printing Device
for Communication in Urban Contexts 607
Julian Adenauer
Michael Haas, Martin Fussenegger
Adrienne Gispen
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 11
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 12
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 13
From Researching the Virtual
Towards Understanding
the Real Urban Life
Frank Eckardt
Bauhaus-Universitt Weimar
Urban life has its own meaning as it is framing our social, political, cultural,
and economical activities within space. If the city in its built reality is not
seen as a mere synchronous description and urban life is recognized in its
dynamics, then the question about the material side of the city becomes
interesting. Te city as a physical and imagined process then becomes a
reality which cannot be captured with a binary understanding, in which
all non-visible is banished. (Davis, 1999)
Te city is more than an accumulation of built places. Te question about rank
and the meaning of the virtual and imagination arises. As a consequence,
the relation between the city as a state of mind, referring here to the famous
quotation of Robert Park, and empirical urban research requires a complex
analysis. Tis means that research on the E-City is dedicated to socio-
psychological aspects of urban studies which can be easily trapped within
too much seeking for signifcation and too much speculation, and this would
leave a lot of space for critizism due to the simplifed attitude. Te major
attempt of researching the E-City should stress, however, the refusal of
any theoretical conception, in which ideas, discourses and pictures of a city
are linked in a direct and causal line to and the appearance of the physical
environment of the city. (Borden/Friedland, 1993)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 14
Cities are no direct manifestation of imagination. At the same time, it
cannot be argued that the imaginary side of urban life is just an accessory or
a cover page for the urban social fabric. Empirical research cannot directly
receive an insight on the dreams and longings of the urban population,
if the logic of the virtual is recognized with having its own independent
existence and way of development. Te dilemma of past urban research
was caused by a narrow-minded sight on imagination and virtuality, which
did not open up for a more fundamental, non linear arranged virtual layer
of the city. What remained were escapist dreams into the fantastic world
of unearthly technological promises. Since the sixties, special attention has
been paid for the hypothesis of an increase of virtual processes in cities.
Generally spoken, these debates have to be looked at with a radicalized
modernity as the background, in which the society looks for imaginations
to forecast the efects of innovations in technical/technological progress.
At that time, emphasis was put on the assumed shrinking diference
between physis and imagination. In particular, the Cyborg theorem of
the physical space is prominently maintained: Te embodiment of space
passes on a problematic form of space itself and wipes away the clear
borders between the organic and the inorganic. (Villani, 1995)
Re-arranging the urban discourse
In urban studies, the well-established terms and analytical concepts have
not been re-arranged to face the difculty of conceptualizing virtuality.
On the contrary, the assumed contradiction between the real and the
virtual real has many lives and can be found in one or another way
throughout literature. It seems hard to imagine that reality is to some extent
fctional and that virtualities are not mere products of fction, but real.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 15
Learning from the development of the Cyborg discourse, urban studies
should re-conceptualize their basic attempt to understand urban life by
shaping analytical tools to overcome these stereotype distinctions between
the real and the imagined, the built and the human, the geographical and
the social. Hybridity is a key concept that derives from the Cyborg theories
and which might be capable of showing a way beyond dual concepts.
Hybridity became a key concept to understand the interwoven relation
between the virtual and the real: A cyborg is a hybrid creature composed
of organism and machine () Cyborgs are post-Second World War
hybrid entities made of, frst, ourselves and other organic creatures in our
unchosen high-technological guise as information systems, texts, and
ergonomically controlled labouring, desiring, and reproducing systems.
Te second essential ingredient in cyborgs is machines in their guise, also,
as communications systems, texts, and self-acting, ergonomically designed
apparatuses. (Haraway, 1991, 1)
In this hybridizing relationship between virtuality and the real reality,
a wider confguration of the urban is anticipated, with which any kind of
essentialist or ontological understanding of cities is excluded. In particular,
the problem of the machine-people contradiction is exposed and qualifed
as being untenable. At the same time, with the Cyber perspective a
metaphor, which gives the virtual no literal place has been widely spread.
Exemplarily for the debate of the nineties, Forer and Huisman (2000)
stated that the virtual would lead us to new experiences of spaces, and
that virtual would immerse into the picture. Te interaction between
the virtual space and the real time is made possible through global
crossings within Cyberspace and through characteristic fgures of the age
of the virtual producing new space metaphors (Quau, 1993, 63).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 16
Understanding the virtual
Te consequence of the metaphorical understanding of the virtual has led
to an urban discourse with the basic assumption of an autonomous sphere
of the virtual, not being critically reviewed yet. For the further analytical
and empirical research on the virtual city we have to acknowledge
that this has been a dead end of thinking. Tis is the reason for a certain
unease which can be observed when the term Cybercity is taken up
again. However, the still lasting talk about a new time period appears to
be a perspective that does not include the necessary historic dimension
of technological development (Lacoche/Wakeford/Pearson, 2004; Tarr,
1987). New attempts to re-conceptionalize the research on virtual urbanity
address the virtual in a way that underlines the necessity to see the it
in a process relationship with reality. (iek, 2002). Te overemphasis
of the virtual in the debates around Cyberspace is comprehensible in
the sense that this happens every time when technological innovations
in the information and communication media became observable. Te
debate was coined considerably by the focus on the interaction between
humans and technological networks, in which indeed apparent changes in
the behaviour of the city dwellers seemed to be of signifcance (Mitchell,
2003). From these frst theorizing attempts two diferent conclusions
can be drawn: On the one hand, an empirically oriented research agenda
appears, where it is considered to keep close track on the observation of the
technological innovations. On the other hand, it remains the conceptional
difculty to understand virtuality and space in a way without both
overlapping themselves by mutual metaphorics. (Gandy, 2005)
Latter difculty was addressed by a widening of the concept of space by
progressing from cyborg to the cyberspace (Turkle, 1995; Bingham,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 17
1996; Ludlow, 1996; Woods, 1996; Kitchen, 1998; Lunenfeld, 1999).
In this discussion on the city, space was included into a neo-organic
perspective, where the city was understood as a neurological information
and communication organization. However created vaguely, space was
connected with diferent parts of the urban (realm), where human
interactions can be observed (Leach, 2002). By the intensive difusion of
the new information and communication technologies, the city transforms
into an urban center like into a nerve system, designed to generate
information and control the movements and actions of its inhabitants.
Existing functional and hierarchical orders are supplemented by vertical,
vague and nonlinear communication lines (Gille, 1986). In this way the
metaphor of the body is waived partly and is reduced to being the place
for the processing of information. (Kurokawa, 2001). To what extent
this still concerns an understanding of body in a biological sense is at
least questionable against the infuential reading to the body without
organs by Deleuze and Guattari. In this discourse, however, the focus
on information can be understood as the conceptional progress, which
overcomes the simplistic dualism virtual/real (Boundas, 1996; Massumi,
2001). Urban indicators such as size, structure or order are less stressed,
while movements and interactions are emphasized instead as characteristics
of urban life. (Amin/Trif, 2002)
Te focus on information was infuential for urban research, which
particularly leads to the expression in the work of Castells, who emphasizes
the creation of fexibility within functional urban structures (Castells,
2003; Steinbicker, 2001). Te net as a metaphor refects the innovations
in the information and communication technology in the eighties and
their infuence on the fundamental dimensions of human life: on the
structure of time and space. With his approach, the Informational Cities,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 18
Manuel Castells attempts to analyze the efects of the new technologies
within the frame of the special economic, social, political and cultural
contexts of regions and cities (Castells, 1989). IT innovations step into
interaction with historical changes, where the restructuring of capitalism
expresses itself within its matrix of economical and institutional settings of
organization. Te qualitative and quantitative changes of communication
and information are not only a component of this restructuring; on the
contrary, they shape the logic of social development. We are experiencing a
phase of capitalism, which is characterized by the mode of informational
development. Tis development mode describes a new relationship
between production, space and society. (Armitage/Roberts, 2002)
Information is no longer only the carrier of knowledge for the production
process, the generation and acquisition of information becomes crucial
for economic processes. Information becomes a resource and this
changes the status it has had before. It becomes important as the basis
in innovation processes and it is no longer only a product of industry.
Before the informational revolution, the factor of energy for innovations
was decisive. Now information takes this place, as transport costs have
become insignifcant. In this way, the mode of informational development
infuences the human approach to production and consumption. In
particular, the socio-cultural symbolism of society is coupled more closely
to its production sphere. Tis is expressed in a transmission of the logic
of the informational process. Te fexibility of informational production
has been made possible through IT technologies and through the fexible
organization of consumption and management. With the new fexibility
a change of production size occurs, i.e. the mass production is given up in
favour of tailor made production based on the principle of just in time
deliverance. Fast adjustment to the diversifying and innovating market is
the key for economic success. As a consequence, the economy approaches
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 19
the symbolic world of the society more strongly and thus the sharp dividing
line between both society and economy - keyword: 24/7-economy -
becomes penetrated (Lash/Urry, 1994).
The Virtual and the Space
Referring to the relation of space and society, the informational age
is assumed to make a crucial turn: Te space of the information fows
is overlaying the space of the places. Te new service industry looks for
places of synergies. Te international manager class occupies places,
reserving certain parts of the city exclusively for itself. Te networks
of the informational economies organize themselves autonomously,
to a large extent independently from the urban, whereby they free
themselves from control from cities and states, but both still justifying
their power through a territorial binding of their citizens. Time and space
are increasingly condensed. Castells progresses the discussion about time
space compression (Harvey, 1989). Cities and regions must fnd their
own role in the spreading network society. In regard to culture, they are
forced to use their historical roots for the production of a local identity
which difers from others. Economically, cities can fnd their place in the
world-wide networks, if they are able to organize a specifc form of social
control of their urban society, which in turn creates special ofers on work,
knowledge and information potentials. Te urban environments ofer the
general conditions for the reproduction of the informational economics.
In the network societies, cities are confronted with the requirements of a
capitalistic crisis, which are in search of new ways of proft maximization
by establishing the informational development path (Laguerre, 2005).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 20
Castells ofers an extensive basis for the analysis of the restructuring
processes in economy and society in the informationyl age. According to
his analysis, the capitalistic restructuring is evoking a new synchronisation
of time which is depending on a more virtual perception of space, generated
in particularly by the internet. (Garsten/Wulf, 2003) Urban research in
the informational mode of capitalism represents a program aligned to
the problem of individualization versus localisation. Te urban dimension
of social integration rises in importance again, while the discourse on the
social is shaped by spatial arrangements. Urban semiotic gets the most
attention, when new symbolic cathedrals and agora can be observed in
cities again. Semiotic analyses should take place as a contextualisation of
communication matrices. Traditional requests to urban research remain
virulent, must, however, again be re-linked to the city of the informational
age: Castells calls attention for forms of urban poverty, racism, social
exclusion and above all, the new social movements. (Castells, 2000)
However, Castells network approach does not convince in many aspects.
Certainly, the networks he focusses on are existing and unfolding their
efects and power. Te network metaphor seems to stress a new developing
trend in the complex interaction net between territorial economy and the
global fows. Nevertheless, there should be caution to what extent these
fow economies have an input on the national economy (Storper, 1997,
239). Te conception of urban complexity on the basis of the network
metaphor appears to be insufcient, because it does not consider sufciently
the complexity of movement and fxation (Brenner, 2000). Te critical
question concerns in the frst place the signifcance of agency which has
to be seen as framing virtuality, whereby these are to be seen primarily as
mental structures (Hayles, 1999). From a sociological view on cognition,
the theorizing of virtuality has to be guided by questions, which to date
usually have derived from singular studies only and lack more general re-
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 21
conceptualisation (Zerubavel, 1999). In acceptance of this starting point
for research, it remains only the narrow analytic derivation of the question
regarding the organization of virtual space/spatial virtuality for the Cyborg
debate: not space as such became insignifcantly, the space concept has
been virtualised and can take place only there. Space implies imagination
and place, information and physis; the consideration on space transforms
into its own analysis (Bukataman, 1993).
Beyond information
Intensive research has already at an early stage underlined the correlation
between information and communication technologies and social
inequality in cities (Graham/Aurigi, 1997). It has been thus recognized
that technological progress does not eliminate or minor social inequalities
automatically. On the contrary, the question about newly developing
injustice, in the sense of access equality, has become important (Negroponte,
1995). Meanwhile, this concern motivates a wider scientifc community,
which operates with the concept of digital divide and which has thereby
been infuential on the formulation of European policies (Stewart, 2006).
From a normative and analytical point, the research on accessibility to
information and communication technologies has produced rich results
( Janelle/Hodge, 2000). However, (comparative) work has only rarely
enclosed the urban dimension explicitly, but for many authors it seems to be
natural that this concept concerns an urban topic in particular. Terefore,
the digital divide is ofen seen as a rural-urban problem (Kvasny, 2006).
Research on the social consequences has particularly looked at the change
of work conditions and environments (telework, telecommuting) (Moss/
Carey, 1995). Although the positive efects of these work forms have
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 22
dominated the discourse for a long time, the research fndings in the
middle of the nineties have presented a more diferentiated view of the
new deriving work circumstances (Wresch, 1996). Accessibility is a pre-
condition for participating actively in informational economics, but the
information and communication industries are also generating their own
hierarchies and architectures of inequality, between for example simple
work as data organizers and creative users (Resnick/Rusk, 1996). Social
inequalities like those following the lines of gender, income, culture and
ethnicity were reproduced on the tele-work job markets ( Jones, 1995).
Cybertariat may be a description for the developing subclass of tele-
workers. (Huws, 2003)
At the same time, another research feld developed, which tries to understand
the virtualised city particularly as a (new) form of industrialization
(Markusen/Hall/Glasmeier, 1986). Research on settlement strategies
of companies in these sectors led to various results, with partially very
diferent beginnings. In particular, the dependence on infrastructural
conditions for this New Economy became relevant (Hackler, 2003). Te
issue of location factors fnally drew attention on the more sof aspects of
urban life (Florida, 2005; Musterd, 2006; Scott, 2006; Hospers, 2003). In
geography, attempts were undertaken to locate and to map these companies
and their service ofers (Zook, 2005; Dodge/Kitchen, 2001). A connection
between economic development and the geographical organization of
urban life has been examined (and stated) in wider concepts (Graham,
2001). Here, geography is primarily based on the term of distance. In the
knowledge economics, distance is assumed to be reduced in its signifcance
(Krugman, 1992). Later analyses have questioned the somewhat simple
acceptance of the decrease of mobility costs by pointing out the fact that
accelerated mobility does necessarily mean higher degrees of connectivity.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 23
In particular, the higher and faster overcoming of distances (a hypothesis
maintained with the internet development in background) and the assumed
(automatic) loss of signifcance of the cities, can up to now not be observed
empirically (Aadey/Bevan, 2006; Pons-Novell/Viladencans-Marsal,
2006). However, more complex mobility defnitions have underlined
the connection between communication technologies, physical mobility
and regional structures (Mackenzie, 2006). Logics of mobility as such
are becoming apparently crucial (Shen, 2000). On the basis of analysing
economic restructuring through telecommunication innovations, many
studies have tried to explain urban transformation and its logic in terms of
infrastructural innovations. Hereby the shif from ofce-work to tele-work
in the private sphere receives its explanation (Moss/Townsend, 2000). In
the same way innovations in the urban morphology are regarded to be
relevant (Crang, 2000). Even more attention has been paid to the socio-
psychological imbedding of the Internet (Dring, 2003). In this research
area extensive work has been concerned with the increasing isolation and
dependence of intensive internet users, which has been supported so far by
empirical research. (Amichai-Hamburger, 2005)
Inhabiting E-City
A rather complex relationship results from these studies with regard to the
integration of the virtual internet world into the biographic continuity
of the individual. In a socio-psychological perspective, the characteristic
of internet-supported communication strives for an understanding,
which stresses the anonymity and the uncoupling of proximity from
the interaction logics of face-to-face communication (Hulme/Truch,
2006). Te character of on-line communication is contradictory: Our
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 24
emotional system is not yet structured to deal with opposing features: Te
contradictions and uncertainty associated with online relationships make
them less stable and more intense. Emotions play a much greater role in
these relationships. (Ben-Zeev, 2005, 134)
Te accepted higher emotionality of online communication is caused
by the greater necessity to achieving integration into personal life,
which at the same time requires the contradiction of proximity and
absence. However, referring to social embeddedness in group processes
and situations, interpersonal on-line communication does not difer
from of-line communication. Tis frame must be regarded as being of
substantial infuence, weakening or waiving the peculiarity of interpersonal
communication in the web (McKenna/Seidman, 2005). In terms of online
friendships we can assume the following: First of all, the friendships
formed in Cybertown are informal, personal, and private. Secondly,
they are chosen rather than enforced. Tird, they are also produced and
maintained in similar ways to those in ofine life. (Carter, 2004, 123)
Initially, online friendships are free foating, then they are built upon
mechanisms in order to develop confdence: As a result, it is no longer
distinct and separate from the real world. Cyberspace has become part of
everyday life. (Carter, 2004, 123). Te available research results assume
that online socialisation is to be regarded as an additional, supplementing
layer of intra-group communication (Matei/Ball-Rokeach, 2002;
Hampton/Wellman, 2001; Wellman, 2001; Tiedecke, 2000). Te frst
sociological study about weblogs found out that the long arm of real life
does not allow revolutionary changes (Schmidt, 2006, 171).
Referring to these fndings, it becomes questionable whether it still can be
justifed to award an own conceptual quality to the Cyberspace/Cyborg
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 25
theorem. Te assumption seems to be likely that many approaches remain
technology-dominated and the confguration of social communication
seems not to have been the starting point of the subsequent observations
( Jackson/Poole/Kuhn, 2002). From a sociological point of view, the
question about the logic and order of virtuality appears to be substantially
more promising to investigate than this would be within the framework of
the Cyber-discourse, which pays lip service to the term space (however
defned) in its name, but rarely conceptionally refects the term and
usually means (a-historically, three-dimensional, a-sociologically) place
(Tiedecke, 2004). Virtuality opens up a research perspective on the city,
which focuses primarily on the structures of expectations, emotions and
memories. To what extent then this might be the question arising from
the analysis of online technologies do they extend, narrow or transform
the spaces of action and emotion for the individual; in what kind of relation
do they stand with more real spaces: in agreement or confict? (Becker,
2004; Paetau, 1997) One logical assumption could be that urban virtuality
could be understood as following an own logic of densifcation and
territorialization. Virtual spaces were not split up by their technological
sense of being a medium, but they look for adequate confgurations
where hybridizing into on- and of-line become possible. Te absence of
such spaces of transition leads to a process, where, if conficts like forms
of virtualisation are not intermediated, urban anomie is produced, which
binds the single individual to its virtual life. Tese correlations, more than
only regarding the internet, become obvious with reference to the wide
spread mobile telephone. Teir omnipresence and ubiquity, meaning
all-time accessibility and de-privatisation through constant use in public
places, points out that communication in its exclusive interpersonal form
only develops as an extended communication, where the presence of a
material or potential third is permanently present (Dring, 2004;Gergen,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 26
2002). Ubiquitous communication, as it can already be observed nowadays
in terms of the mobile phone, develops a persisting tension between the
private and the public, the accessible and the exclusive, and the common
and the interpersonal (Hfich, 2006). Tese borders are complexly
restructured in a process which can be characterised as being culture-
dependent (Vincent, 2006). In the western societies and in the way the
mobile phone is used there, it reproduces already existing distinctions
within the social feld, and does not create autonomous social dynamics,
which would be able to question the inequalities (Geser, 2006). Studies of
the social efects of the internet cafs are coming to a comparable result.
(Lee, 1999)
Resisting techno-determinism
Obviously, it is difcult to consider the empirical fndings appropriately
with the existing research strategies and the general experience of the
new communication worlds. Most conceptional and methodological
approaches circle around three main topics and hardly fnd common
ground: Substitution, technology and medium of the urban. Te topic
of substitution is present in main parts of the debate. Tis covers a wide
theoretical feld with inconsistent and contradictory conclusions, but
one approach seems to dominate with narration as the most important
form of theorizing. Narration means mostly romanticising, in a negative
mood for instance in the writings of Virilio (Morisch, 2002; Redhead,
2004)), working with a plot based on the time before and afer
technological innovations (Coyne, 1999). With this temporal dualism a
further narrative structure of the research logic is implicitly set: the world
outside and inside. Cities are afected, formed, shaped, transformed,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 27
arranged, changed etc., i.e. they are subject to a power from the outside,
which approaches them like asteroids from the universe, chanceless against
the almighty impact of the technologies. Research on the virtual city
follows therefore a discourse over urban development, which describes the
city as a target of technological planning (Aibar/Bijker, 1997). Tis kind
of viewing the city refers to technological planning developments as - to a
large extent - deterministic and decouples it from their local developing
circumstances: Te pervasive reliance on technological determinism and
cartoonish end of city visions has actually worked to obscure the complex
relationships between new communication and information technologies
and cities and urban life that have emerged as ICTs have difused to be
embedded in real everyday lives and practices. (Graham, 2004, 11).
Te technological view of the virtual city prevents the empirical study
of correlating the technological with the urban development, because it
maintains the assumption of causality in one direction (technologycity).
Tis is theoretically not convincing and neglects the complexity of
the relationship between city and communication. Tis way, theorists
are victims of their omnipotence fantasies of technological power.
Technodeterminsm is a scientifc escape to fee the challenge of multi-
causal interferences in the urban fabric. Te pitfall of substitution (space
and physicality can be replaced virtually), believing that information and
communication technologies have a de-materialising efect, is the extreme
of this technology debate. Robins summarizes this as follows: Trough
the development of new technologies, we are, indeed, more and more open
to experiences of de-realization and de-localization. But we continue to
have physical and localized existences. (Robins, 1995, 153).
From this statement about the predominance of the banal reality over the
virtual realities, it is a long way to the formulation of an appropriate theory
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 28
of the electronic city, which would also have to argue with the second
axiom of technological determinism: the concept of the media. A similar
approach can be outlined regarding this vagabonding term: If one seeks
a common horizon in newer positions of media theory, then one could
say that media are not regarded as only being procedures for storage and
processing of information, for the spatial and temporal transmission of
data, rather media win their status as scientifc, i.e. systematizable objects
in this way, and it is the question what they store, function and mediate
in each case under conditions, they create and represent. (Engell/Vogl,
1999, 10) In this limited understanding, media are no more the McLuhan
message and technological history is no longer written with the focus
(only) on technical progress. Yet, the terminology of the medium allows
the theoretization of self-dynamics and an autonomous sphere, which
generates (in a more subtle manner) efects, efects on society. Can the
research on the E-city in general proft from theorizing the media in
this way? Or does a the term medium remain as an explosive device, with
having the various theoretical cross-overs as a background, which urban
research has already addressed enough with the concepts along the factors
size, density, mobility, structuring, hybridizing, confict lines, anomia,
control and metabolism? Te question arises, which research surplus
could be aimed at, if media were to be introduced as a special research
perspective within the urban research. Te characteristics of the auto-
dynamics of media - which can be defned diferently - are opened not
evidently inevitably, since auto-organization as such is a characteristic
of many urban processes. Tus, the request for a workable and distinctive
understanding of media becomes more urgent. It does not appear to be
very helpful, in the frst place, to call everything which would correspond to
this all-comprehensive criterion of self-regulation and having a transmissive
function at the same time a media. Te most important objection against
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 29
considering media as a category for urban research is, however, the lack
of sensitive theorizing of the media in terms of complexity, which itself
contributes so far to the wider understanding of urban life as such. So the
E-city has to be seen as a cognitive concept on the one hand. On the
other hand, empirical work pragmatically uses the term medium as it is
applied in specifc situations. It remains to be discussed critically whether
approaches working with constructivist theories are really able to discuss
their results of research beyond causality relations. So far, the existing
research is still conceptualized in a way that it cannot easily contribute
to the general discourse on media. Te fundamental difculty lies in the
fact that constructivist theories are ofen taken too literally and not as a
guiding analytic question and thereby with the objective to work towards
own theoretical implications. For the understanding of the E-city a
discourse has to be built up with starting beyond a transmission of the
prevalent concepts of the media. It needs to, not only simply translate or
learn from the existing disciplinary approaches referring to the virtual
and the real, but it should enfold the logic of the Electronic city as an
urban science and thus analyze and, since it is bringing in the urban in
its complexity again, reformulate some of the main starting points of the
recent debates. (Eckardt/Zschocke, 2006)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 30
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MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 36
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 37
The Practice of Cybernetic Urbanism
Raoul Bunschoten
Daniel Wedler
CHORA, architecture and urbanism
In March 2006 I arrived with a group of students from the London
Metropolitan University in Xiamen, China. Te aim was to do a workshop
with local students, and to explore the relationship between the Taiwan
Strait and a local city. At the end of the short stay we presented a series of
cooperative urban prototypes to a group of urban planners; this moment
was a crucial turning point in a long warm-up towards the Taiwan Strait
Atlas publication,
Before we go further into the actual processes of negotiation I want to step
back into 1996, when I was invited to do a workshop in TungHai University,
in Taichung, Taiwan. I arrived on the day of the frst presidential election
in Taiwan. Te Peoples Republic of China does not recognize Taiwan as a
sovereign state. Te Taiwan Strait remains a geopolitical hotspot, despite
the intense commercial, personal, linguistic and various other relationships
across the Strait. When I arrived there, I was placed on a discussion panel
in a conference on traditional Chinese architecture straight away. When
asked to contribute, a dog wandered into the conference space, and this dog
gave me the chance to speak on a theme that linked the traditional debate
to a more generic theme: Te theme of the threshold or Liminal Body in
architecture. Was the dog allowed into the conference space? Did he know
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 38
he shouldnt cross the threshold? How did he experience the threshold, as
the door was open? I drew this dilemma as a diagram on the blackboard,
essentially a line separating the room and us from the outside space with
the straying dog. Somehow, from this discussion I shifed the signifcance
of the line into a representation of the Taiwan Strait as border territory,
a truly complex Liminal Body. A space that many people share through
a common history and culture but that is also divided by the historical
events, and of course also by the sea. But across this space increasingly
new links are appearing as well, a process continuing today with many
industries in Fujian Province owned and run by Taiwanese businesses, and
the frst direct fights between mainland China and Taiwan in 2008 .

Image: Taiwan Strait Atlas Cover Sample Page TSA
(Raoul Bunschoten/Joost Grootens) (Raoul Bunschoten/Joost Grootens)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 39
Back in Europe I discussed the project with the graphic designer Joost
Grootens, and he suggested turning the project into an Atlas Project. Te
Taiwan Strait Atlas would become the frst in a series of Liminal Body
Atlases. Tese Atlases would describe the emergent dynamics of territories
that straddle boundaries and are undergoing rapid and complex change.
Te territories are not merely growing, but displaying new forms of
dynamic behaviour, potentially leading to new urban forms. Te project is
to describe six regions: 1. Te Taiwan Strait; 2. Te Bi-Oceanic Corridor
between Valparaiso, in Chile, and Buenos Aires, in Argentina; 3. Te
Rotterdam- Ruhr region (Sector E); and 4. Te Tames Gateway in the
UK. (Earlier concepts included the Mexico-USA border; and the central
mining seam, bisecting Johannesburg, as well).
Ten I met a young man from the Netherlands on a plane who turned out
to be working in a small frm specialized in brokering carbon exchanges,
and working with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) process set
up in the Kyoto Protocol. His explanation of that process made me realize
that this mechanism could be highly relevant for urban design. Once
we started doing research on the topic we noticed that newer concepts,
allowing a large number of smaller projects to be bundled together,
(programmatic CDM) had been approved. Afer several false starts, the
idea of applying to the UN with programmatic CDM methodologies
became clearer: Te fnancial tool CDM could potentially be used as an
Urban Planning Instrument: Creating cluster of projects that could adopt
specifc prototypical technologies or design principles, and apply with
these clusters for CDM money to reduce the CO2 Emissions of Cities on
a overall scale. Tis could be compared to an urban choreography of a large
amount of projects, huge single structures for example power plants, and
tiny interventions multiplied in thousands, linked together by one mana-
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 40
Image: Carbon Monitoring (Chora)
gement Instrument. A live monitoring process where the C02 reductions
of each project and of all projects combined becomes visible.
Such an Urban Choreography and the need to manage its complexity have
always been at the focus of our attention and the resulting discourse had
led to the development of the Urban Gallery some years back.
Te Urban Gallery is a planning tool that links an interactive management
of knowledge with negotiation methods for prototypical urban projects.
It has four methodological layers: a database, prototypes, scenario games,
and action plans. Te Urban Gallery is run or managed by Urban Curators,
a practice of managing urban processes without necessarily fxing them
through buildings or other design practices. Te Urban Curator designs
the linking of processes, or in other words, designs the organizational form
of the dynamics or behaviour of an urban environment.
Te CDM concept in a way was the missing link, creating enough
complexity for a serious test run of the Urban Gallery. While we
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 41
also progressed on the Taiwan Strait Atlas, we started developing the
components of what we call the Taiwan Strait Incubator: A simultaneous
evolutionary implementation of Prototypes on both sides of the Taiwan
Strait, driven by CDM. Eventually we where able to use commissioned
studies to develop the concept further. In Xiamen the City asked us to
represent them on the First Energy Efciency in Buildings Expo and
we proposed to the City ofcials the design of an Interactive Model to
experience our Concept, this was accepted.
Image: Concept Taiwan Strait Incubator Diagram of the model
A Co-Evolution of Pilot projects on both sides of the Taiwan Strait
Te model was designed to both educate the public and act as a planning
tool for developers, designers, and city ofcials. Te city was 3d modelled
in 1:10.000 and printed as 122 rapid prototype SLS prints. Te tiles are
stitched together by metal wires to an overall size of four by four meters.
Four Consoles with push buttons control 620 LEDs via Arduino boards.
(Interactive Design: Nick Puckett) Each of the Inputs triggers a Scoreof
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 42
LED responses and each push button represents a potential Prototype. Te
Light of the coloured LED shines through the translucent STL material,
Clusters of prototypes appear, and spheres, technical or cultural, overlap,
appear and vanish again. Te city is a Canvas, the Planner a Painter. Tis
Urban Teatre illustrates in our understanding a new form of urban design,
art and practice:
Te message is not simple, the medium not sexy, the means complex.
Urbanism must turn a corner and become, if not sexy, at least creative,
artistic like the choreography of a dance, or like the cybernetic concept
of co-evolution. Urbanism is really a cybernetic practice, or a form of
cybernetic art. Cybernetic urbanism - it is not yet a good title, but it
describes where the profession has to go: choreography and co-evolution.
Image: Setting Up the Model in Stuttgart
IFA-Gallery 2010
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 43
Exhibition Post-Oil-Cities, IFA Gallery Stuttgart, 2010
Wires underneath STL Tiles
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 44
Wiring Diagram
All these relationships and actions have created a web that in itself forms
simultaneously a model and the product of the Taiwan Strait Incubator. It
is research by doing, action through design. Te project allowed student
teams from both cities to come to the opening of the Shenzhen Biennale
and to install an exhibition about the work together. Tey also played out
potential scenarios for the Taiwan Strait; a frst link is created how the next
generation will tackle climate change across the Taiwan Strait.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 45
Sentient City Survival Kit:
Archaeology of the Near Future
Mark Shepard
University at Bufalo
231 Center for the Arts, Bufalo, NY 14260
+1 (716) 645-0934, shepard6@bufalo.edu
In this paper, I discuss the Sentient City Survival Kit, a design research
project that probes the social, cultural and political implications of
ubiquitous computing for urban environments. Following a discussion of
the philosophical and cultural problems of attributing sentience to non-
human actors, I present a brief cross-section of historical and contemporary
constructions of non-human sentient beings in the felds of science fction
literature, computer science research, and applied technology. Te paper
concludes by introducing the notion of an archaeology of the near future
as a conceptual framework for designing and fabricating a series of artifacts,
spaces and media for survival in the near future sentient city.
Te Sentient City Survival Kit is a design research project that probes the
social, cultural and political implications of ubiquitous computing for
urban environments. Conceived as an archaeology of the near future, the
project consists of designing, fabricating and public presenting a collection
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 46
of artifacts for survival in the near-future sentient city. Less invested
in the business of predicting future trends in mobile media, pervasive
computing or embedded information systems, the project focuses more
on prototyping concrete artifacts in the present based on current research
and development in urban computing and ambient informatics in order
to facilitate a discussion around just what kind of future we might want.
As computing leaves the desktop and spills out onto the sidewalks, streets
and public spaces of the city, information processing becomes embedded
in and distributed throughout the material fabric of everyday urban space.
Pervasive/ubiquitous computing evangelists herald a coming age of urban
information systems capable of sensing and responding to the events and
activities transpiring around them. Imbued with the capacity to remember,
correlate and anticipate, this sentient city is envisioned as being capable
of refexively monitoring our behavior within it and becoming an active
agent in the organization of our daily lives.
Few may quibble about smart trafc light control systems that more
efciently manage the ebbs and fows of trucks, cars and busses on our city
streets. Some may be irritated when discount coupons for their favorite
espresso drink are beamed to their mobile phone as they pass by Starbucks.
Many are likely to protest when they are denied passage through a subway
turnstile because the system senses that their purchasing habits, mobility
patterns and current galvanic skin response (GSR) reading happens to
match the profle of a terrorist.
Te project investigates the darker side of this near future urban imaginary
and posits a set of playful and ironic techno-social artifacts that explore
the implications for privacy, autonomy, trust and serendipity of this highly
observant, ever-more efcient and over-coded city. In the passages that
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 47
follow, I trace the primary theoretical threads from which the project is
woven. I begin by discussing the diference between the attribute sentience
and the act of sensing, which leads us to the philosophical problems of
Cartesian dualism and non-human sentience. I then introduce related
concepts of the Pathetic Fallacy and the Category Mistake as markers by
which to unpack historical and cultural biases regarding the application of
human-like attributes to non-human actors. Here, Latours observations
regarding the lack of an accepted vocabulary concerning agency in the
absence of anthropomorphic characters is central.
Having established a set of theoretical tensions at the core of the project,
I then briefy map the so-called Sentient City in terms of the persistent
and pervasive meme of non-human sentience along three vectors. Te frst
concerns the Sentient City as technological fantasy depicted in science
fction literature. Te second addresses the Sentient City as technical
challenge defned by corporate research initiatives in computer science and
engineering. Te third addresses the Sentient City as operative reality in
the form of existing and emergent urban computing applications and their
claims toward smart or intelligent urban infrastructure.
I conclude by presenting a preliminary set of items included in the Survival
Kit and discussing how critical design practice ofers an alternative
to artistic projects focused on strategies for re-enchanting the urban
environment. Suggesting that we might both sharpen and broaden the
questions we ask when evaluating speculative projections for near future
urban technologies, I introduce Greg Stevensons notion of archeology
as the design history of the everyday (Stevenson, 2001) as a way of
refocusing artistic production on provoking public discussion about the
shape of future cities.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 48
Pathetic Fallacies & Category Mistakes:
Making Sense and Non-Sense of the
(Near Future) Sentient City
And supposing there were a machine, so constructed as to think,
feel, and have perception... we should, on examining its interior,
fnd only parts which work one upon another, and never anything
by which to explain a perception. (Leibniz, 1714/1965) [1]
What does it mean to call a city sentient? Te word sentience refers to
the ability to feel or perceive subjectively, and does not necessarily include
the faculty of self-awareness. Which is to say, the possession of sapience
is not a necessity. Sapience can connote knowledge, consciousness,
or apperception. Looking at the Latin roots of the two words can be
instructive. Te word sentience, derived from sentre, present active
infnitive of senti, means to feel or to hear. Sapience comes from sapere,
present active infnitive of sapi, meaning to know. So a Sentient City,
then, is one that is able to hear and feel things happening within it, yet
doesnt necessarily know anything in particular about them. It feels you, but
doesnt necessarily know you.
Wherein lies this perception? How do we account for it? In the passage
quoted from above, Leibniz goes on to claim it is in a simple substance,
and not in a compound or in a machine, that perception must be sought
for. His belief that the gap between the physical and the subjective is
unbridgeable, that we cannot explain subjective experience though an
accounting of physical processes, can be traced to Descartes and his theory
of dualism (Descartes, 1641/1996) [2]. Cartesian dualism, commonly
known as the mind-body problem, asserts that mind and matter are
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 49
fundamentally diferent kinds of substances, and argues that mental
processes are immaterial and that material organisms dont think. In
Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes attempted to account for animal
behavior by purely physical processes as a means to distinguish living things
that merely sense from those that are sentient. In doing so, he claims that
this distinction marks an essential metaphysical diference: human beings
are those that are sentient, all others are merely capable of sensing.
Sensing, the thinking goes, is something animals, some plants, and some
machines can do. Sensing involves a sensing organ or device that enables
the organic or inorganic system of which it is a part to actively respond to
things happening around it. An organism or system may sense heat, light,
sound, or the presence of rain, for example. Yet having a sensation or a
feeling is something which goes beyond mere sensing, for it involves an
internal state in which information about the environment is processed
by that organism or system so that it comes to have a subjective character.
Qualia is the philosophical term for this, which Dennett (1988) [3]
defnes an unfamiliar term for something that could not be more familiar
to each of us: the ways things seem to us.
Non-human sentience has long been a fash point of controversy between
the humanities and sciences. In Modern Painters (Ruskin, 1864) [4],
Ruskin coined the term Pathetic Fallacy to signify any description of
inanimate things that attributes to them human capabilities, sensations,
and emotions. His translation of the Latin phrase natura abhorret a vacuo
(nature abhors a vacuum) is widely known and has become part of common,
everyday language as evidenced, for instance, by its contemporary usage
by a U.S. military general in a New York Times article describing reasons
for NATOs swif entry into Kosovo following the withdraw of Serbian
Forces in 1999 (Becker and Rhode, 1990) [5].
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 50
Within literature, anthropomorphism is by now an accepted literary device,
yet within the natural sciences, for example, it is still considered a serious
error in scientifc reasoning if taken literally. Bruno Latour suggests that
the difculty lies in describing agency in the absence of anthropomorphic
actors, that there is a lack of accepted vocabulary to address the non-
human agency of things, technological or otherwise. [E]very time you
do that, he states, immediately people say Oh, you anthropomorphize
the nonhuman. Because they have such a narrow defnition of what is
human, that whenever a nonhuman does something, it looks human, as if
its sort of a Disney type of animation (Latour, 2008) [6].
As Keller Easterling notes (Easterling, 2008) [7], the term Category
Mistake introduced as the fundamental mistake of Cartesian dualism
by Glibert Ryle in Te Concept of Mind (1949) [8] describes a seemingly
nonsensical mixture of logics. For Ryle, Cartesian dualism mistakenly
assumes it is sensible to ask of a given cause, process, or event, whether it is
mental or physical, implying that it cannot be both. He argues that saying
there occur mental processes does not mean the same type of thing as
saying there occur physical processes, and, therefore, that it makes no
sense to conjoin or disjoin the two. Easterling elaborates on the category
mistake: For instance, one mistakes a part for a whole, or inverts levels in a
hierarchy. Or a child thinks a division is a smaller part commensurate with
a battalion or a squadron, when it is the overarching category for those
of smaller divisions. She goes on to show how beginning with Jesus and
extending to messianic characters in general, category mistakes are markers
for dominant logics with universal claims, yet also suggests how they can
serve as an escape hatch out of the monotheisms of logic and discipline.
In order to fnd the trapdoor into another habit of mind, one would not
quarrel with, but gather evidence in excess of these dominant logics.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 51
Te Sentient City thus becomes a contested site: a theoretical construct
within which longstanding claims of essential human qualities, capabilities
and characteristics are critically destabilized through their attribution to
non-human actors. Tis destabilization is understood to work actively,
as a tactical maneuver enabling other ways of thinking that not so much
confront dominant ideologies but elide common wisdoms about not
only what it means to be human but also what it might mean to be a city.
In gathering archaeological evidence of near future urban conditions,
the Survival Kit enters the debate on non-human sentience through the
trapdoor in the foor.
Tis method is, of course, by no means new. In the next section I briefy
review a cross-section of representations of the Sentient City culled from
the fantasies of science fction writers, the research agendas of computer
scientists, and the claims accompanying recent applications deployed by
corporate interests, governmental agencies, and the military. Te intent
here is less to provide a comprehensive overview but rather a selection of
examples that point to the historical persistence and cultural pervasiveness
of the sentient non-human meme.
The Sentient City as Technological Fantasy,
Technical Challenge and Operative Reality
Non-human sentience is no stranger to the science fction community.
From Arthur C. Clarkes Diaspar, the computer controlled city described
in Te City and the Stars, to his work with Kubrick on HAL (sentient
machine); from Stanislaw Lem and Tarkovskys Solaris (sentient
planet) to DC Comics Ranx the Sentient City created by Alan Moore;
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 52
from Gibsons sentient cyberspace as portrayed in Neuromancer, to the
sentient programs of the Matrix, or Bruce Sterlings spime (to name but
a few), science fction has imbued a range of inanimate things of all
scales with forms of sentience that do not map neatly to those of ordinary
Tese technological fantasies of non-human sentience exhibit no consensus
regarding the place or nature of sentience, however. Sentience is at times
centralized (Clarke, Kubrick, Moore), at times distributed (Lem, Gibson,
Sterling). While Clarke and Kubrick attempt to anthropomorphize HAL,
as symbolized by his iconic and omnipresent red eye and reinforced by
his conversational acuity, Lem persistently portrays Solaris otherness:
the planets sentience is evidenced through the manipulation of a simple
substance constituting its oceans that has nothing in common with
anthropomorphic fguration or behavior.
Addressing sentience as a technical challenge, the Economist published
an article fve years ago titled Te sentient ofce is coming (2003)
[9] that described then current research in augmenting computers and
communication devices with sensors to enable them to take into account
their environment and adapt to the changing conditions of their use. Here
the aim was to create convivial technologies that are easy to live with. Yet
as the article points out, cohabitation with sentient things is not without
dilemmas. What happens when we the toaster in your home gets bored
of always making toast, or the fax machine in the ofce thinks the tone of
your fax doesnt jive with that of the frm?
Achieving sentience in the domain of Artifcial Intelligence (AI)
research is a serious research agenda with a long history. ATT/Cambridge
Universitys Sentient Computing project (1999) [10] attempted to
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 53
combine sensors and computers to monitor resources, maintain a
computational model of the world, and act appropriately. Combining
sensors and computers was at the time nothing new, but the broad attempt
to maintain a computational model of the world proved daunting. As
of 2006, the project was re-focused on tracking and location systems for
sentient vehicles and sports.
Today the emphasis is less on trying to maintain a proprietary computational
model of the world, and more on using the world itself as model and
letting ordinary people contribute to its making. More than a few early
Urban Computing and Locative Media projects focused on crowdsourcing
metadata about a place by enabling people to markup and annotate digital
maps with notes, images and media objects geocoded to specifc locations
(Urban Tapestries [11], Yellow Arrow [12], Semapedia [13], to name but a
few). Google Maps and Google Earth have further catalyzed the collective
production of these geospatial datasets. With the introduction of the GPS
enabled iPhone 3G in 2008, location-based services building on these
datasets are being mainlined to the masses.
Context-awareness plays a signifcant role in current research in sentient
systems. In addition to knowing where someone is, factors such as whom
they are with and what time of day it is reduces the possibility space within
which inferences and predictions are made. Tis real-time information is
correlated with historical data of someones mobility patterns, purchasing
history, personal interests and preferences (as refected by user-generated
profles) in order to make more accurate predictions about what his or her
wants and needs may currently be, or what actions s/he is likely to take
next. MITs Serendipity project [14], for example, draws on the real-time
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 54
sensing of proximate others using Bluetooth technologies built into mobile
phones to search for matching patterns in profles of peoples interests.
Developed by the Human Dynamics Group at the Media Lab, the projects
goal is to facilitate corporate productivity by providing a matchmaking
service for workers with shared interests or complimentary needs and skills
who otherwise might not encounter each other within spaces organized
around the ofce cubicle. A typical design scenario involves one worker
needing the skills of another and the system facilitating their meeting:
When we were passing each other in the hallway, my phone would sense the
presence of his phone. It would then connect to our server, which would recognize
that Tom has extensive expertise in a specifc area that I was currently struggling
with. If both of our phones had been set to available mode, two picture messages
would have been sent to alert us of our common interests, and we might have
stopped to talk instead of walking by each other. (Eagle, 2004: 12) [15]
Tis project presents at least two assumptions that are worth exploring
further. Te frst is that matchmaking should be based on comparing
profles and looking for synergies between two people. If the term
serendipity is understood to mean the process of fnding something
by looking for something else, the Serendipity project does precisely the
opposite: it simply outsources the problem of fnding something we are
already looking for (that expertise in a specifc area that I was currently
struggling with that I have somehow indicated in my profle). Secondly,
while the introduction of available mode suggests that some attempt has
been made to address privacy issues, there is no consideration of who has
access to your profle data and how they use it.
Profle data considered private in one context can be publicly revealing
in another. Another MIT project, code-named Gaydar, mined Facebook
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 55
profle information to see if people were revealing more than they realized
by using the social networking site. By looking at a persons online friends,
they found that they could predict whether the person was gay. Tey did
this with a sofware program that looked at the gender and sexuality of a
persons friends and, using statistical analysis, made a prediction. While
the project lacked scientifc rigor they verifed their results using their
personal knowledge of 10 people in the network who were gay but did
not declare it on their Facebook page it does point to the possibility that
information disclosed in one context may be used to interpret information
in another.
Looking upstream, Crang and Grahams recent paper Sentient Cities:
Ambient intelligence and the politics of urban space (2007) [16] does
a great job at outlining how corporate and military agendas are currently
driving these technological ecosystems were likely to cohabit with in the
near-future. Mapping the Sentient City as operative reality, they point
to location-based search results and target-marketing databases storing
fnely grained purchasing histories as steps toward data-driven mass
customization based on continuous, real-time monitoring of consumers.
Further, citing a study by the US Defense Science Board calling for a
New Manhattan Project based on Ambient Intelligence for Tracking,
Targeting and Locating they outline an Orwellian future that is in fact
currently in operation in lower Manhattan.
Te Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, as the plan is called, resembles
Londons so-called Ring of Steel, an extensive web of cameras and
roadblocks designed to detect, track and deter terrorists. Te system went
live in November of 2008 with 156 surveillance cameras and 30 mobile
license plate readers. Designed for 3,000 public and private security
cameras below Canal Street, this system will include not only license plate
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 56
readers but also movable roadblocks. Pivoting gates would be installed at
critical intersections and would swing out to block trafc or a suspect car
at the push of a button.
While the implications of projects like Serendipity occupy a relatively
benign problem space, Te Lower Manhattan Security Initiative points
toward possibly more serious outcomes from the false positives (or false
negatives) inevitably generated by the pattern matching and data mining
algorithms at the core of the system. What happens when Facebook profle
data is added to the mix? How do we ensure the privacy of data about us
that is collected through inference engines? What are the mechanisms by
which these systems will gain our trust? In what ways does our autonomy
become compromised?
Toward an Archaeology of the Near Future
While it may be intriguing to attempt to seek answers to these speculative
questions about potential futures, a more pressing challenge is to identify
concrete examples in the present around which we might organize a
public debate that aims to both sharpen and broaden the questions we ask
ourselves about what kind of future we want. In the wake of a massive,
global fnancial crisis and increasingly grim environmental forecasts, the
general public is fnally beginning to register that as a planet we need to
negotiate our way of life with those of the various actants and ecosystems
with which we cohabitate, be they environmental, political, economic,
social or technological. While Crang and Graham do help understand
current corporate and military agendas, their analysis of the role of artists
working with Urban Computing and Locative Media as one of re-
enchanting urban spaceof making visible the invisible traces of things
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 57
past, a haunting of place with absent othersrenders artistic practice
in relatively conservative and familiar terms, casting art in a reactionary
role vis-a-vis technological development. What other roles might artists,
architects and designers play in shaping how we inhabit the near-future
Sentient City?
Te Sentient City Survival Kit takes as its method a critical design
practice (Dunne, 2006) [17] that looks toward archaeology for guidance.
Archaeology involves the (re)construction of a world through fragments
of artifacts, where past cultures are reconstituted in the present through
specifc socializing and spatializing practices involving mapping, classifying,
collecting and curating (Galloway and Ward, 2006) [18]. Cultural
knowledge is reproduced through relating in space and time the traces
and remains of people, places, things, activities and events. Collections
of archaeological artifacts serve to reveal the everyday social and spatial
relations of societies not contemporary with ours, yet recontextualized
within the present. Stevenson (2001) [19] refers to an archaeology of
the contemporary past as the design history of the everyday, where
common objects drawn from daily life do not simply (passively) refect
cultural forces (trends in taste and fashion, for example) but also actively
participate in shaping the evolving social and spatial relations between
people and their environment.
Positing an archaeology not of the contemporary past but of the proximate
future, the project takes the practice of designing everyday artifacts as a
vehicle for shaping tomorrows cities. Te aim here is to attempt to
instigate the process of imagining a future city and its inhabitants through
fragments and traces of a society yet to exist. Collectively, the artifacts,
spaces and media that constitute the Survival Kit ask: in what kind of city
would I be viable, useful, necessary, or even popular? Who made me, and
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 58
for what purpose? What relations between people and their environment
do I suggest? In what places, circumstances and situations would I be
Ultimately the project is less invested in forecasting future trends in
technology than focused on provoking public discussion in the present
about just what kind of future we might want. Tis involves a design process
based on looking at whats happening just upstream in the computer
science and engineering R&D labs and teasing out some of the more absurd
assumptions, latent biases and hidden agendas at play. Te production of
physical working prototypes for items in the Survival Kit subsequently
involves playing out the design implications these assumptions, biases and
Sentient City Survival Kit
Te Survival Kit currently consists of four items (with this number
expected to grow to between 6 and 8 in total).
Te public can engage with the project in three ways:
1) Public presentations of a set of working prototypes for items in the
Survival Kit in the form of museum/gallery exhibitions and performances
at arts festivals and related events. When exhibited in a museum/gallery,
the Kit will be accompanied by video documentation demonstrating the
use of its items together with a verbal and visual description of the project
concept. When performed at an arts festival, festival attendees will be able
to take items from the Kit out into the city to experience how they perform.
2) Online access to a dedicated project website containing text and images
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 59
describing the project, video documentation of the performance of items
in the Survival Kit, together with a set of DIY tutorials and design
documents that describe how to make the items in the Kit.
3) A series of public lectures at international architecture, art and
technology related panels, events, conferences and festivals.
Very much a work-in-progress, the following concept sketches and
preliminary prototypes of the Survival Kit have been presented to date at
conferences (Subtle Technologies, Toronto; ISEA 2009, Belfast), exhibited
in galleries (Te Center for Architecture, New York; Te Rotterdam
International Architectural Biennial, Te Netherlands) and documented
online via a dedicated project website: http://survival.sentientcity.net
Figure 1 - GPS Serendipitor
In the near future, fnding our way from point A to point B will not be
the problem. Maintaining consciousness of what happens along the way
might be more difcult. Te GPS Serendipitor is an alternative GPS
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 60
navigation sofware application for mobile phones that determines a
route to a destination that the user has not previously taken, designed
to facilitate fnding something by looking for something else. What are
the implications of a society that needs to download an application for
Figure 2 - RFID under(a)ware
In the near future sentient shopping center, item-level tagging and discrete
data-snifng are both common corporate culture and popular criminal
activities. Tis popular product line consists of his and hers underwear
designed to sense hidden Radio Frequency Identifcation (RFID) Tag
readers and alert the wearer to their presence by activating small vibrators
sewn into bras and boxer shorts.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 61
Figure 3 - Ad-hoc Dark (roast) Travel Mug
In an environment where all network trafc is monitored via smart flters,
where access privileges are dynamically granted and denied on the fy based
on your credit card transaction history, and where bandwidth is a function
of your market capitalization, standard commuter gear includes this travel
mug designed for creating ad-hoc dark networks for communication
along a morning commute becomes. Consisting of a mobile phone screen
embedded in the lid of the mug together with a small wireless mesh
networking radio and microcontroller, commuters share short messages
tapped out on the side of the mug and picked up by a capacitance sensor.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 62
Figure 4 - CCD-me-not Umbrella
When human vision is no longer the only game in town, dont leave home
without this umbrella studded with infrared LEDs visible only to CCD
surveillance cameras, designed to frustrate object detection algorithms
used in computer vision surveillance systems.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 63
[1] Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. (1714/1965). Monadology, and
other philosophical essays. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.
[2] Descartes, Ren. (1641/1996). Meditations on First Philosophy.
Cottingham, J., trans., Cambridge University Press.
[3] Dennett, Daniel. (1988). Quining Qualia in A. Marcel and E. Bisiach,
eds, Consciousness in Modern Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[4] Ruskin, John. (1864). Modern Painters. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
[5] Becker, Elizabeth and Rhode, David. (1999, June 6). Crisis In Te Balkans: Te
Military; Pullout Talks Start, but Pact is Delayed. Te New York Times, p. A1
[6] Latour, Bruno. (2008). Where Constant Experiments Have Been Provided.
[7] Easterling, Keller. (2008). Only the Many. Log, 11, winter.
[8] Ryle, Gilbert. (1949). Te Concept of Mind, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
[9] Te Economist. (2003, June 21). Te sentient ofce is coming. Te Economist.
[10] Sentient Computing Project. AT&T Laboratories, Cambridge.
[11] Urban Tapestries. http://urbantapestries.net/
[12] Yellow Arrow. http://yellowarrow.net/
[13] Semapedia. http://semapedia.org/
[14] Serendipity. http://reality.media.mit.edu/serendipity.php
[15] Eagle, Nathan. (2004), Can Serendipity Be Planned?, MIT
Sloan Management Review, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp 10-14.
[16] Crang, Mike and Graham, Stephen. (2007). Sentient Cities: Ambient intelligence
and the politics of urban space. Information, Communication & Society, 10:6, 789 817
[17] Dunne, Anthony. (2006). Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products,
Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design. Cambridge: MIT Press.
[18] Galloway, Anne and Ward, Matt. (2006). Locative Media as Socialising and
Spatialising Practice: Learning from Archaeology Leonardo Electronic Almanac 14(3),
[19] Stevenson, Greg. (2001). Archaeology as the design history
of the everyday in V. Buchli and G. Lucas (eds.) Archaeology of
the Contemporary Past, London: Routledge. p. 53.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 64
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 65
Digital Metropolis:
The Implications of Information
Densication for Spatial Society
Noah Ives
Cornell University
With the spatialization of digital media, interaction design has become
an architectural concern. Te performative nature of digital information
alters the users physical environment, in turn generating distinct patterns
of user behavior. Since the organization of the human body in space
is the domain of architecture, changes in behavioral patterns call for
corresponding changes in architectural typologies. Architecture ceases to
act as a landmark or a background. Instead, it becomes a highly responsive
interface at the center of human activity.
Bits and Buildings
Digital information saves people time. Coded data can be less massive (e.g.
electronic or quantum bits), and less massive signals allow users to process
and communicate information at a lower resource cost. Given infnite
resources, the same results could be achieved at the same rate at any scale.
In reality, however, energy efciency translates to time efciency. Te less
that information is bound to physical space, the greater its rate of change.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 66
To the user, this means that digital information can be highly performative.
Conversely, physically massive artifacts like architecture are ill-suited
for performativity. Building design is the attempt to accommodate
varying conditions within a static spatial organization. Fixed to the earth,
buildings revolve into and out of the line of sight of the sun, catching light
as they spin. Tey house various systems within their foors, roofs and
walls that allow inhabitants to heat up, cool down, open and close spaces
as they perform their daily activities. Historically, people have considered
architecture itself too heavy to be worth re-arranging on a routine basis.
Te proliferation of the built environment is evidence of the proliferation
of humanity. Like the coral reefs of polyps, architecture is one sign of our
ability to transform matter into forms that sustain us. Digital information
is another sign. However, the two operate at opposite ends of the scale of
our sensory experience. Architecture orchestrates our movements through
varied physical spaces; digital technology provides the convenience of
varied information at a single location. Architecture is predicated on
bodily motion, digital information enables us to experience more while
moving less.
As per capita physical resources diminish and information technology
advances, digital media generates an increasing proportion of human
experience. Hans Moravec predicts a future where physical activity
will gradually transform itself into a web of increasingly pure thought
(1997). Te responsiveness of digital technology compared to the inertia
of the senses is making the human body itself obsolete. In Moravecs vision,
information technology is rapidly co-opting the material domain of
architecture. However, people continue to design for themselves, and the
human senses have a determinate structure. Tis means that no matter how
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 67
efciently information is coded it is only useful to us when it is translated
into our scale. Digital information cannot completely replace physical
information as long as it is directed towards human users.
Te evolution of both architecture and information technology
demonstrate increasing sensitivity to the complexity of the users senses.
In architecture, early 20th century approaches designed for a highly
prescribed and proscribed set of human needs. Te sterility of the resulting
environments and their failure to efect their stated social goals continue to
haunt attempts at so-called rational design. (McCullough, 2004; Venturi,
1996) Information technology has likewise grown toward a more holistic
approach. While the earliest paradigms of interface design prioritized
content over form, subsequent models have focused to a greater extent on
user experience. Te intricacies of sight, sound and touch have all become
integral to interface design, and there is ongoing investigation into digital
manipulations of taste and smell. Further, digital output frequently
mimics forms found in the physical world, even when the technology itself
has rendered them anachronistic. Tis trajectory represents the attempt to
create a more convincing cyberspace. However, as the illusion only got as
far as the inner ear, (McCullough, 2004) interaction design has necessarily
expanded into physical space.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 68
Spatially Interactive Typologies
People are not designed for stillness and do not respond well to forced
immobility. Te human body must be active to be healthy and the senses -
especially the kinesthetic -are not fully engaged when the body is stationary
(Fleishman and Rich, 1963; McCloskey, 1978). For the user, the historical
separation between information technology and architecture represents
an unnatural condition. Digital technologys broad progression from
stationary to mobile to environmental illustrates designers recognition of
this principle. Fixed devices force users to abandon spatial behavior. Tere
is no architecture for such devices - they exist in stillness. Autonomous
mobile devices are more adaptable to patterns of human behavior. Still
these represent an alternative, rather than a contribution to the physical
environment. Te one can only inform the other referentially, and users
must divide their attention between the two. Within this paradigm,
we live between two realms: our physical environment and cyberspace.
Despite our dual citizenship, the absence of seamless couplings between
these parallel existences leaves a great divide between the world of bits and
atoms (Ishii, 1997). Architecture remains relatively non-performative and
digital information remains aspatial. Te integration of digital information
within the built environment, however, creates a unique spatial condition.
It is possible to produce a unitary experience of physical space and digital
information in one of two ways. First, inhabitable surfaces and spaces can
themselves become output devices. Taken to its conclusion, this approach
would turn each state of physical matter - not only solid matter, but also
liquids and gases - within everyday architectural spaces into interfaces
between people and digital information (Ishii 1997). In other words,
the physical fabric of the built environment acts as a scafold for digital
information. Te user is mobile relative to the digitally-informed physical
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 69
environment, and this environment responds to the users spatial behavior.
Second, mobile digital devices can mediate the pathway of information
from the spatial world to the user. Tese devices move with the user
through space, enhancing incoming information with digital output
before passing it on to the user. For digital media to be spatial, output
devices must be proximal or distal, but not in between. Spatial media is
thus the incorporation of computation devices either i) onto our skins/
bodies, [or] ii) into the physical environments we inhabit (Ishii 1997).
Digital technology alters the roles of the diferent human senses in
producing experience. Te sensory organs have evolved around the
information patterns encountered in a world not informed by digital
processes. Tey react to input from diferent areas of the body, with
diferent signals, at diferent speeds. Te distinguishing characteristic of
digital information is its relatively performativity, so it tends to privilege
the more responsive senses. As counterparts to the senses, output devices
also impose constraints on interactive media. Diferent devices engage
diferent senses, and each device comes with its own material costs. Further,
such devices may respond to patterns of interaction diferent from those
that people have historically exhibited. Te structural constraints of the
senses and the environmental limitations of interface devices mean that
the human body behaves diferently in a digitally informed world.
Tis in turn afects the behavior of architecture. Engaging the kinesthetic
sense with digital media involves transforming architecture into a digital
interface. Rather than a static background, comparable to a stage for
human activity, architectural elements take part in the sensing, processing
and communicating of highly responsive and concentrated information.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 70
Performative Habitats
Tere is an inherent tension between architectures dual role as digital
interface and material system since, for designers, the essential fact about
[the] locus of attention is that there is but one of them Raskin, 2000). Te
more architecture is endowed with responsive information, the less it acts
as a static object. Te large scale and fxedness of buildings have historically
helped people orient themselves in space and have declared the cultural
values associated with spatially defned regions (Rowe and Koetter, 1984).
As the elements of architecture become more fuid, these social functions
diminish. Te characteristics of certain locations change more rapidly,
material history matters less, and inhabitants ability to adapt and respond
becomes more important relative to memory. Responsive technology
promotes responsive behaviors.
As a communicative device, such technology represents a powerful social
tool. Digitally informed space has greater visceral impact than aspatial
media, and is more programmable and performative than purely material
spaces. Proximal devices create highly individualized experiences, while
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open source projects fuel subversion. Like any communicative media
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will help overcome the problem of information overload. Tere is more
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 71
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as taking a walk in the woods (Weiser, 1991). Te competing dream
(Weisners nightmare) is to get the most out of the human user as possible
without sacrifcing digital efciency. However, when digital technology
enters the world, the reality it produces will always fall between the two.
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MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 72
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 73
Interface Design for Shared Spaces
Towards a More Aective Relationship
Between People, Places and Information
Nina Valkanova
Interactive Technologies Group
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Carrer Tanger 122-140
08018 Barcelona, Spain
In this paper, we describe the doctoral research on urban media interface
design. Te objective of this work is to explore and eventually conceptualize
principles and guidelines for the design of urban screens in shared
spaces, which can increase the communicative potential of the media
landscape through afective and engaging experience. We believe that
by considering an interdisciplinary approach drawing on both scientifc
and artistic design knowledge and practices, we can develop meaningful
and engaging interfaces, which can sustain a more afective relationship
between the spaces, the people inhabiting them, and related information.
In particular, we are interested in exploring and expanding the notion of
information aesthetics onto the domain of urban media interface design.
By considering the environment with its architectural and situational
aspects as a key entity in informing the design, we focus on studying and
understanding the experience of aesthetics, information interpretation,
and interaction with media interfaces in shared spaces. Te long-term goal
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 74
of this research is to unify the key fndings in a conceptual framework
for design recommendation for urban media interfaces. Our approach
strongly relies on research through design method by addressing diferent
real life challenges through several design cases and framing them by the
overarching research question. As an example, we present two design
casesAmbientNEWSandtheVisitorsand discuss the implications of our
initial key fndings.
1 Introduction
Nowadays digital information is becoming more pervasive and intertwined
with our daily activities. Te constant evolvement of ubiquitous
technologies has enabled the expanding use of digital technologies as
part of numerous aspects of human life beyond the workplace, including
schools, museums, airports, etc. In our research we focus on the media
interfaces that are constantly being integrated in various kinds of shared
places. Tese dynamic digital displays vary from LED screens, plasma
screens, and information terminals, to projection surfaces as well as
intelligent architectural surfaces and media facades.
For quite a long time, these have been dominated by commercially
motivated digital imagery, like advertisement of consumer goods or mass
sports and music events, or by highly task-oriented activities (fg. 1). Tese
media interfaces play a vital role in our perception of the spaces around
us and our understanding of the public realm that embraces them. Te
predominance of these types of interfaces also determines the attitude of
people inhabiting the shared spaces and their behavior towards each other
and the environment. It is marked by passivity and alienation and non-
refected consumption (McQuire, 2007; Huhtamo, 2009).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 75
Figure 1: Current urban screen situation is marked by
functionalism and / or commercialization
Tere is a need to develop strategies of articulating the new public domains
that connect physical urban spaces and the potential spaces created by the
new media technologies and foster their positive potential (Broeckman,
2004; Struppek, 2007). Terefore, we ask if there is a more meaningful
way of using ubiquitous technologies for our shared spaces. In particular,
how can the shared spaces augmented by technology become mediators
of interaction among people, enhance awareness, encourage playfulness,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 76
provide consciousness, provoke refection or create an emotional
connection between people and the environment? In the following, we
are going to address these issues by making a review of related works and
positioning our research within the feld of HCI and interaction design.
Later on we will exemplify our approach with two design cases we have
developed in the course of our research and present their preliminary
2 Related Work
On a theoretical basis, commentaries and essays from new-media, urban
and social theorists have considerably explored the general question how
to support goals which the urban mediascape would like (or should) to
achieve: instead of being the subject of privatization (commercialization),
rationalization and functionalism, it can be the mediator to achieve
the following goals (among others): increase awareness, refection,
consciousness and enhance the emotional relationships between people
and places? (Gofman, 1966; Virilio, 1997; Manovich, 2006; Struppek,
2006; Lester, 2006). In recent years, numerous organizations have begun to
undertake initiatives to explore and promote the communicative potential
of urban displays throughout experimental public participation (among
others Urban Screens, 2010; Media Faade Festival 2010). In the pursue
of afective and engaging experience in the shared environment, quite a
large amount of collectives from diferent genres, like games, architecture,
and arts have embraced the creative possibilities that digital interactive
technologies ofer. Teir motivation centered on the procreation of
artistically and/or culturally related content on urban media interfaces
integrated in the environment. Te Project Blinkenlights (2010) is a
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 77
classical example of such an installation where artists placed lamps behind
each window in a building in Berlin and used the resulting pixel matrix
as a screen for playing pong and displaying low- resolution animations.
Architecture has throughout history been constantly on the lookout for
new ways of renewing itself with use of new materials and new expressions.
Te technology enhancements make it possible to create dynamically
changing faade expressions by trespassing the use of mechanical devices
(Institut du monde arabe a Paris, 2010) and overlay buildings with digital
information layers. Along with the proliferation of media facades and
intelligent surfaces in recent years, media architects have started to explore
their communication advantages of media facades as interfaces situated on
the periphery of human attention, but yet advantageous in their prominent
position and size (Media Architecture Institute, 2010). In essence, a
successful staged display has to harmonize with its hosting building since
the architecture and the presented content infuence each other and are
perceived as a living organism of interlaced digital and physical artifacts
(ag4 media faade GmbH, 2010). Body Movies (Media Art Net, 2010) -
an installation by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (2002), and Hehe: Nuage
Verte (2010), a project by the art collective HeHe, exploring the potentials
of projections technologies on increasing the awareness about air pollution
in urban environments - are some of the most prominent examples of
urban media displays motivated by Art.
Beyond artistic or purely aesthetic qualities, artistically inspired works
have a high communication potential because of their ability to provoke
emotional response, social interaction and to stimulate meditation
(Bounegru, 2009). However, the majority of them remain sole realizations
of the artistic expression of a person, or design inquiries into new forms
and materials of architectural expression. Although quite valuable on
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 78
experimental, experiential, and technological levels, they fail to achieve
signifcance from an HCI research perspective because there is still a
lack of conceptualization of their design principals. Only few research
investigations have tried to conceptually validate the potential impact of
such applications of creative design knowledge without easily labeling it as
art. We frst present few works that have tried to combine scientifc and
artistic design knowledge, and which form the bulk of such research to the
best of our knowledge. Ten, we introduce the state-of-the-art in research
on urban screens.
In the intersection feld of information visualization and interaction
design, Lau and Moere (2007) introduced a model of information
aesthetics, which focuses on the experience of aesthetics, information
interpretation, and interaction. It considers the way in which information
is represented, basing on both intrinsic and extrinsic data meaning, and
the use of artistically-enhanced but efective mapping techniques. In this
model, aesthetics considers the context in which the information should
be interpreted rather than the subjective judgment. Snibbe and Rafe
(2009) outlined design principles and guidelines for creating engaging and
emotionally afective interactive experiences based on cinematic narrative
models, and argued how to use them in design interactions with high
communication potential. However this work is extensively focused on
full-body experiences in exhibition halls and museums and does not study
open urban life settings like urban space or shared public institutions.
Urban life, with its social and cultural practices, difers from other
aspects of human life, and has diferent kinds of spatial and situational
circumstances. Several HCI researchers and practitioners are exploring
the challenges and potential this domain represents (Dalsgaard and
Halskov, 2010). Signifcant eforts have been invested in understanding
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 79
the peoples relations with situated urban interfaces, building a corpus
of studies that unpack the particular social and interaction mechanics of
diferent types of urban screen applications (Brignull and Rogers, 2003;
Vogel and Balakrishnan, 2004; Peltonen, et al., 2009, OHara, et al., 2009).
Te relationships between the characteristics of these interfaces, the
environment, and types of audience in diferent setups has been observed
and analyzed in detail by Fatah Gen. Schieck, et al. (2007), Huang, et al.
(2007, 2009) and Jurmu, et al. (2009). Tese works contribute signifcantly
to gaining a better understanding of the emergent social interactions and
behaviors when situated interfaces are integrated in real-world settings, but
they do not provide a comprehensive framework for centering the design
of these interfaces on increasing the communicative potential of the media
landscape through afective and engaging experience.
We believe that by considering an interdisciplinary approach drawing on
both scientifc and artistic design practices, we can develop meaningful and
engaging interfaces with a high communicative potential. As Dalsgaard
and Halskov (2010) mention, it is a challenging task to bring known design
techniques onto the design of urban media interfaces, since these should
be adapted and altered to address the specifc issues of the domain and they
may need to be supplemented with new techniques and approaches.
3 Research goals
In the scope of our work, we are particularly interested in exploring and
expanding the notion of information aesthetics onto the domain of
urban media interface design. By considering the environment with its
architectural and situational aspects as a key entity in informing the design,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 80
we focus on studying and understanding the experience of aesthetics,
information interpretation, and interaction with media interfaces in
shared spaces. We align our investigation on the topic with the concept
of human information interaction (Gherson, 1995) and its three
fundamental entities: environment, information and person as defned by
Moghnieh, et al. (2010) (fg. 2). As discussed by Lau and Moere (2007)
we should look at aesthetics as anartistic infuence on the implementation
of design requirements and intended purpose of an interface, rather than
subjective aesthetic judgment. It possesses the capacity to convey patterns
and meanings, leaving for open interpretation, which can be especially
benefcial in the feld of urban media interfaces appeal to audience,
attract attention, encourage personal involvement, allow serendipitous
discoveries, and more profound long-terms impressions (Foster and Ford,
2003; Moghnieh, et al., 2008).
Figure 2: Placing information aesthetics as a layer for design
principles over the three fundamental entities of HII
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 81
Hence, in the context of urban media interface design, we treat information
aesthetics as a layer, which potentially allows for the better integration
among the people, the environment, and the information in the design.
Within the frame of the overarching research question What are
the guidelines for urban media interface design, which increase their
communicative potential through afective and engaging experience? we
will tackle our research goals from the following perspectives, which are
naturally interconnected in the desired outcome for design principles:
+ What kind of information related to people inhabiting public spaces can
be used to support the underlying communication goals? Which are its
levels of complexity, granularity, and resolution of representation?
+ How should we utilize and incorporate in the design the inherent
qualities of the public space in accordance to the needs and interests of the
people inhabiting it? How do those relate to presentation of information?
+ What are the possible implicit and explicit interaction scenarios that can
support the underlying communication goals?
4 Design Cases
As part of identifying key aspects for afective and engaging communication
through urban media interfaces, our research focus revolves around
understanding the experience of aesthetics, information interpretation, and
interaction with media interfaces in shared spaces. Te research approach
we adopt is based upon practice-based engagement in cases of experimental
design. Te process of engagement with the design cases is largely (but
not solely) infuenced by the research through design method laid out
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 82
by Zimmerman, et al. (2007) as it involves groundinginvestigation to
gain multiple perspectives on a problem; ideation generation of many
possible diferent solutions; iteration cyclical process of refning concept
with increasing fdelity; and refection.
So far, we have investigated and conducted two experimental design cases
of media interfaces integrated in diferent shared environments to come to
grip with the research aspects of interests in real-life situations.
4.1 AmbientNEWS
Tis design case is a large-scale display, which aims to augment the
awareness of people in its proximity on news topics of their interest.
Originally, the display is designed for the large open newsroom space of a
broadcasting company. Professional journalists create and edit broadcasting
materials inside the newsroom - a shared space characterized by an intense
and multivariate fux of information and social activity, dominated by
corporate overtones, and hosting a large number of desktop screens.
Despite the disposition of a large number of information systems, a detailed
contextual inquiry conducted with a team of journalists (Moghnieh, et al.,
2009) revealed that they still fnd challenging to maintain awareness of the
geopolitical picture of events developing in the areas they cover.
Figure 3: Prototypical deployment of AmbientNEWS
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 83
AmbientNEWS responds to these needs by mining recent news and
developing stories from the web and visualizing the online news landscape
related to topics of interest in the vicinity of the display. Te temporal
evolution of information is shown by a dangling fowers animation,
which represents the continuous fow and development of the topics by
causing the fowers to emerge, grow, proliferate petals, or vanish subtly
in responseto changes in the online news landscape. In its frst version,
the display was auto-reactive: it did not incorporate interactive means to
engage with the user, but was a dynamic, constantly evolving generative
animation, reacting and changing on the input constantly mined by its web
engine. Te auto-reactive display was designed to be deployed both as a
large-scale projection or a large display integrated in the upper part of a
faade of the inner architectural space of the shared space (fg. 3 illustrates
a prototypical deployment in a newsroom) - depending on the technical
and lighting conditions available in the space - and thus visible from
various viewing angles in the space. Considering the interface design in
such an information-overloaded environment, we rely on the peripheral
attention of people as an alternative medium of communication, which
can be explored by integrating of the display the upper part of inner
faade (Tomitsch, et al., 2008). Since dynamics forms an important part
of the aesthetic concept, readers are encouraged to view a short video clip
of the display that is available on the web at: http://thinktank.upf.edu/
AmbientNEWS was designed to refect the use of integrated peripheral
displays in shared spaces to augment serendipitous information discovery.
Hence the aims of AmbientNEWS are many-fold: 1) to catch the glance
of people in its vicinity without being obtrusive, 2) to communicate in
an artistically enhanced but efective way the relationships among topics
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 84
of interest, 3) to foster personal refection on the information and 4)
to enhance the relationship between people and environment through
afective experience.
Te lack of natural settings in the large newsroom would incite people to
glance frequently at the organically shaped colored fowers, and connect
with the visualized information space not only because of its aesthetical
appeal, but also because of the unusual visual representation of information
in these settings. Such visual metaphor capitalizes on ambiguity as a
resource for design (Gagver, et al., 2003). Furthermore, we are interested
to evaluate the display in terms sense-making (information interpretation)
of the visual metaphor and the dynamics animation, and hence validate
the communication potential of its design.
We have developed an evaluation plan of 4 phases; the last one of those (the
long-term evaluation) is still in the process of planning. Figure 4 depicts
schematically the evaluation plan, what and how has been evaluation in
which phase. Te preliminary results of the frst 3 phases created noticeably
positive and afective response in the users. Te broadcasting experts
interviewed were able to correctly identify the meaning and purpose of
the visual elements and the animation dynamics. Tey have expressed an
afrmative opinion on its potential to augment the information discovery
in the environment of their newsroom. Other users, which were not
broadcasting experts, expressed curiosity and the opinion that the display
can be also re-used in the context of their working environment (archiving
specialist, owners of bookstores).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 85
Figure 4: Subsequent evaluation phases of design case
Figure 5 : TeVisitors Prototype deployed in an exhibition hall
Some people even started to discuss and interpret the meaning of bigger
fowers vs. smaller once making more abstract assumptions about the
overall geopolitical picture or the internal relationships among news
departments (there is too much news about football or local cultural
events have a rather large ratio in the broadcasting agenda). Generally,
the users who informally reviewed the display were highly intrigued by its
contents and positively afected by its presence in the space.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 86
Te design case theVisitors is a large-scale projection, seamlessly integrated
in the architectural space of an environment, characterized by a high human
fow. Trough subtle natural sounds people are notifed upon entering and
leaving the space. Furthermore, their presence and interactions with the
space is refected in the animation of an aesthetical visual metaphor (in
one of the walls of the space there was a seamlessly integrated projections
of an stylized subtly moving tree, populated by birds fying in and away
upon passengers entering and leaving).
Te objective of this design case is to create emotional links between
spaces of intense human trafc and their visitors. Its conceptual aim of
theVisitors is to explore the interaction among the architectural spaces
and the passers-by and how this can be communicated by abstract visual
representations of peoples presence and activity. We deliberately chose to
integrate the display as seamless as possible in the space by carefully taking
into consideration the architectural form of the faade and mapping
the projection onto it, so it does not look like a common rectangular
projection surface. Lots of information aesthetic works use visualization
techniques to convey patterns, but leaving their interpretation open to the
user. We believe open interpretation is a valuable resource for successful
communication design and can be supported by better integration and
interplay between display and architecture. From this work we expected
to collect some observations and empirical evidence of on how this kind of
(multimodal) visualization design is perceived by inhabitants and users of
shared places, and how it changes and enhances the way passers-by perceive
their environment and consequentlychange the way they move in and live
and sense the space.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 87
Te frst version of the prototype was presented in an exhibition hall
(fg. 5) during an open-doors event freely accessible to diferent kinds of
audience. We studied peoples behavior and reactions with respect to the
installation through walk-through sessions, observations and informal
interviews. Generally, it was very well perceived by the visitors, which
were intrigued by the subtle sound response to their entering/leaving the
space and could easily relate it to their abstract representation on the
tree. Teir comments and reactions showed amusement and curiosity, and
they were eagerly showing and explaining the meaning of the installation
to their companions. Some visitors were repeatedly entering and leaving or
exaggeratedly passing through the hallway thus trying to interact with the
diferent modes of the installation.
In addition we have also talked to participants in the exhibition, who were
actually space inhabitants (exhibitors or staf of the building) and not
directly interested in interacting with the installation because of lack of time
due to their own exhibitions responsibilities. Tey were usually walking in
and out of the space, carrying out material for their own installations or
standing around their stands and talking to other people. Tose visitors
also expressed an afective relationship through the installation by saying
that with time it has turned out to be a delightful greeting for visitors and
a unobtrusive but playful way to represent human fow and activity. One
of them said I am glad that I am not constantly engaged with interacting
with it, because I dont have time for that, but I appreciate it being there
it gives me the sense of being connected to the other visitors through the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 88
4.3 Findings And Perspectives
Based on the initial fndings gathered from the observations and
interviews from both design cases, we feel encouraged by the positive
evidence supporting the underlying research themes and assumptions. On
a conceptual level, we explored how information aesthetic principles can
be grounded in requirements for the displays (which goals it has to achieve
and what are the restrictions), and be subsequently engaged in design
taking into consideration the situational and architectural circumstances
in the shared space. We will leave out the details on the design process
and the concrete design decisions resulting in the current version of
AmbientNEWS as they go out of the scope of this paper. A detailed
discussion can be found in (Valkanova, et al. 2010).
On an experimental level, what is very important for us as researchers is
to provide empirical evidence on the impact or power of urban media
displays to achieve their communication goal(s).
We showed that AmbientNEWS was defnitely successful in three of the
four aims, which the design cases had anticipated: 1) to catch the glance
of people its vicinity without being obtrusive, 2) to communicate in an
artistically enhanced but efective way relationships among topics of
interest, 3) to foster personal refection on the information. Te fourth
aim - to enhance the relationship between people and environment
through afective experience can be supported by some comments from the
participants of the evaluation sessions and by the overall afective reactions
and acceptance of the display, but this needs to be further explored by a
prolonged on-site deployment.
Similar conclusions can be drawn in the case of theVisitors. Te initial
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 89
empirical fndings showed that the multimodal dynamic visualization
(abstract visual metaphor combined with sound) was positively perceived
and successfully interpreted as human presence and activity, thus
enhancing the awareness of the visitors of the shared space. For quite a
number of visitors, the display attracted attention and incited short-term
interactions by playing around with the notifcation and presentation
schemes. People expressed afective responses of curiosity and joy. More
importantly, evidence from visitors and inhabitants of the space shows that
they were able to emotionally link to the display and thus enhance their
afective experience in the space. Tis is an important motivation for us,
as we are interested in exploring the information aesthetic principles in
various areas of urban life, which are ofen characterized by uninformed,
spontaneous or open-ended situations and activities.
We plan to stage the installation in another more open public space (like
a busy waiting hall in the train station, or the open hallways between
diferent university buildings) in order to fully validate the design case in
terms of the underlying communication goals. We will aim to measure the
attention and awareness and sense of place of inhabitants in the proximity
of the installation.
5 Conclusions And Future Work
In this paper we have described our research on design of urban media
interfaces, guided by the overarching research question What are
the design guidelines that increase their communicative potential of
urban media interfaces through afective and engaging experience?.
Drawing upon the prolifc discussion by media practitioners, artists and
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 90
social theorists, as well as the current state-of-the-art of HCI and IxD
research on urban media interface design, we emphasize the still lacking
explorative, conceptual, and empirical fndings in terms of afective and
engaging communication. We address these issues in our research in the
domain of urban screens, treating the notion of information aesthetics as
a layer, which potentially allows for the better integration of the people,
the environment, and the information in the design. Based on a research
through design approach, we have conducted two experimental design
cases dealing with real-life challenges in diferent shared settings, the
frst one characterized by an dense and multivariate fux of information
(AmbientNEWS) and the second one marked by intense and spontaneous
human trafc (theVisitors) and discussed the preliminary fndings. In the
next phase of our investigation, we plan to conduct long-term deployments
on the developed scenarios and account for more long-lasting efects
and engagements. In addition to that, we plan to study their contextual
applicability to other environments, especially more context-free open
urban spaces. We will focus on how the information aesthetic principles
taken into account in the initial design cases should be transformed or
adjusted to a diferent shared setting, both in terms of architectural as well
as situational diferences. We also recognize that our conceptual base will
need further informed refnements, especially in relation to studies from
the domain of urbanism ( Jacobs, 1961), architecture (i.e. Rudofsky, 1987;
Alexander, et al., 1777) and studies of experience of place (Tuan, 1977). In
order to test the feasibility of our conceptual fndings, we will experiment
with further design interventions in urban settings. We will be led by our
strong belief that informing a better urban media design has a potential
beyond the immediate fascination of and interaction with the installation
in terms of relating to, refecting upon and communicating information.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 91
Te author would like to acknowledge the valued contribution of Ayman
Moghnieh and to thank Roger Tarrago Bonfl, Andrea Rosalez, David
Peuela, Piero Sacco, Stiliana Mitzeva and Gil Casadevall for being
irreplaceable members in the creation the two design cases. Te authors
would also like to thank the members of the Interactive Technologies
Group at the Pompeu Fabra University for their support and ideas.
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MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 95
Media Architecture as Social Catalyst
in Urban Public Spaces
Hendrik Weiner
Dipl. Ing. Arch.
Buildings will become computer interfaces and computer interfaces will
become buildings. William Mitchell, City of Bits, 1995
Tis paper explores the potentials and possibilities of Media Architecture
to improve the spatial quality and communicative functions of public
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 96
spaces. It formulates a specifc viewpoint of the architecture and planning
theory about the subject of medialization of public spaces.
Starting from the efects on society of the mechanization of our
environment, just thinking of the electrifcation in the 19th Century or
the light architecture of the 1920s, one needs to ask, which substantial
contributions of the spatial implementation of technology can lead to a
sustainable and liveable public environment today.
How can Media Architecture support the social and communicative
functions of urban public spaces?
To fnd answers to this question, frst it is needed to clarify the requirements
of todays urban public spaces and the needs of their users. Tis will be done
by discussing the term quality of public space in general and in contrast
to branding spaces, by discussing research results about the user behavior
in urban public spaces and by the focus on opportunities to appropriate
urban spaces.
By pointing out several examples of Media Architecture and art projects,
the potentials of interactive opportunities in urban public spaces gets
outlined multifaceted.
Te paper will present one test project in detail: Te Interactive Parasite
for the cultural center Schlachthof in Bremen. In this example, the
functions of representation and interaction are combined. Te project tries
to connect the questions of getting attention, representing the institution,
caring about the user participation and dealing with the quality of space to
create a special type of Media Architecture.
Te paper shows how little has been done to research the real efects
of Media Architecture to urban public spaces and their users. For this
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 97
research to be done it suggests the use of qualitative and empirical methods
in combination with attended experiments and test projects to develop an
contextual knowledge to planners and designers.
Te flm Minority Report by Steven Spielberg takes the short story by
Philip K. Dick from 1956 to draw a complete media controlled public
environment by eye-scans with the efect of personalized advertisement in
the public space.
At the same time, the project urban diary by Friedrich von Borries
uses the subway station U2, Alexanderplatz in Berlin to reanimate the
desensualized public space. Te intention was realized by an interactive
screen to support an open communication process in the public space.
Passers-by could read messages, send there own message or just ignore the
project. With time, a kind of city diary was written. Tis project asks for
new interactive interfaces to attract and develop the public spaces in an
participative way (Borries, 2002).
Since 2006:
A Brand Environment as an Adventure Landscape: more than 1000
square meters of an advertising space in the most frequented subway
station of Austria, the Karlsplatz with up to 200.000 passengers per
day, the GEWISTA stages the frst station branding of Austria for the
new Sony Walkmanphone. An Innovation that has plenty to ofer: high
contact density and length, enormous impact and highest attention
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 98
value, especially for the young and mobile target audience. (Out of home
Austria, 2010)
Te station branding unites many advantages: high frequency, , intensive
and sustained eye contact, high attraction and with this an increased
attention, and possibilities of interaction up to face to face contacts to sales
promoters says the advertisement company enthusiastically (Out of home
Austria, 2010).
Also the public player is happy about the more friendly and bright
stations with more light, the confrontation with new worlds of images,
the diversion and the better subjective feeling of safety (Out of home
Austria, 2010).
Te concept of station branding or total branding is a new dimension
of out of home-advertisement and promises an omnipresence with high
range, a massive contact density and a high number of recalls (Hochschule
Luzern, 2010). And it completely occupies the public space. Te passers-
by are totally surrounded and involved by the advertisement.
In order to observe the passers-by in Tokyo cameras were installed in 20
subway stations. Tese cameras gather information about sex and age
to develop target group profles. Trough this one can fnd out which
advertisement is viewed by whom and when (Out of home Austria, 2010).
Tese activities lead to pervasive advertising.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 99
Urban Public Spaces Characteristic today
Urban public spaces today are diferentiated. In these spaces, we fnd parallel
acting and diferent levels of behavioral norms happening at the same time.
Urban public spaces are not consistent, but complex, multilayered and
contradictory. Public spaces can be described as variable occupied places
with a permanent change of their meanings. (Sennett, 1998, p.48)
Diferent interests and stakeholders compete strongly over the urban
public spaces. Examples for this are: private Investors (shopping malls),
the security interests of people (video control, security services, gated
communities), demonstrations of individual or political opinions, trafc
and so one. Tis continuous negotiation of diferent interests and values
is efecting and fnally constituting the public space. In this way, the
public spaces are the central characteristic and the assumption of urbanity.
(Wilder, 2003, p.2)
Public space today is seen as a dynamic relation to the rules of society,
individual and group interests, power, proximity and displacement,
inclusion and exclusion. It is the physical construction of the social
space (Riege, Schubert 2005, p.251). In addition to this, public space
creates a physical memory of the city by preserving meanings and stories.
Tereby, the public is a social phenomenon and is dominated by social
developments. Te public can not be created merely by physical designing
(Schubert, 1999, p.19).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 100
Quality of Public Space
Urban public spaces are the daily world of experiences of people living in
the cities. Terefore public spaces are the real references and identity areas
of a city. Particular for the contact and understanding of inhabitants with
their diferent opinions and ways of life, public spaces are the essential
physical framework to negotiate the values of a democratic society. Tis
functionality and usability can be called the quality of urban public spaces.
To create this quality there are some simple rules to consider: Public spaces
has to be free, open and accessible without any physical, social or economical
restrictions at any time. Any public spaces need to be fexible and open to
use without predefnitions. Tey have to be adaptable for unpredictable
uses. Te central social function of the public space is to be a place of open
exchange, communication and to ofer a free space for appropriation. In
being so, the personal feeling of safeness plays an important role. Public
spaces also need to be defned and separated into other spaces, cross-linked
with each other and they need to have a certain character and an aesthetic
value (Rei-Schmidt, pp.7-8). Opportunities to have experiences, to test
behavior, to practice interaction, to withdrawal, to rest or to re-interpret
should shape the urban public spaces. Tis can support their quality.
Terefore urban public spaces should ofer a wide range of possibilities
to experience, to express opinion and to have interaction. But there is no
causal connection between design and the public. Open ground plans and
areas with low spatial limits are of no use if political, social or economical
exclusions exists. Te social structure determines the limiting factor
(Kaltenbrunner, 2003, p.35).
Te Introduction of this paper refers to total branded spaces. Tis
branding occupies the public spaces with the promise of entertainment
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 101
and a world full of experiences. Tis intervention is well accepted by the
people, because it is activating the space. But by winning this world of
experience these spaces become predefned and loose their function of
openness. Te high acceptance of these branded areas can be explained
by the contrast to the low aesthetical and spatial quality of many public
areas. Ofen, the low level of positive experiences, of dark areas or dull,
functional corridors and streets make people feel lost and support unsafe
feelings. Tese areas are uncared for and their potentials are forgotten. Te
loss of sensual-aesthetical qualities of the space is producing a want, which
gets satisfed by an industry of fctions. Public spaces get reinvented and
fctional restaged (Kaltenbrunner, 2003. p.35). Sometimes it looks like
branding and other commercial activities are the only power to redesign
public spaces. If more and more public spaces are efected by branding and
pervasive advertising, the question Who owns the public space? points
out the basic confict of use of the urban public spaces.
Te forefront of this development was the shopping mall. Today, this
typology is an integral part of the city. Te private space inside has
adopted many attributes of the urban space. In doing this, all annoying
factors are eliminated to create a kind of perfect world. In these spaces the
density of experiences and infuences are high. Being in a shopping mall
is comfortable, but it is a highly controlled space without any possibility
of self-representation except for shopping. In order to fulfll this illusion
of a perfect world, many public spaces in the inner cities are adapting the
aesthetics as well as the concepts of social control, for example site security
( Jonas, Schumacher, pp.3-5). Nevertheless the problems like vandalism
move into other areas and cannot be solved just by designing aesthetical
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 102
Tese examples show the power of an important parameter of space:
the atmosphere. Schmitz (1993) defnes atmosphere as spatial expanded
feelings. So atmosphere can be understood as a space of feelings and by
this, atmosphere can touch and animate people to sympathize with an
ofered environment. (Hasse, 2006, p.12). Te restaging of the public
spaces by branding is consciously using this efect.
Te alternative way is to understand public space as a public matter and to
think about an integrated concept of a more cohesive society. So what about
supporting atmospheres to make experiences and to practice interaction
in public spaces without predefned messages? How can concepts of
development be created by strengthening the open and communicative
function of urban space? How can a higher quality level of public spaces
be designed, other then by ofering events? And which part does Media
Architecture play in designing open and atmospheric public spaces?
Appropriation of Public Space
Te interplay of users and urban spaces became a stronger focus within
the last decades: As people are infuenced by space, the space itself
becomes infuenced by the daily use of people. Space is lived individually,
is thought and interpreted subjectively and can be actively produced by
people. (Litscher, 2009, p.5). Tis concept describes the idea of spacing,
of creating spaces by an active appropriation of the public spaces. It means
more then just the use of the space (usage). By usage, the content and
form of the use is not questioned. To appropriate the space is to expand
a personal sphere of human action, which means one changes the given
situations and arrangements (Deinet, 2006). So in this spacing process
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 103
the public spaces and their elements become tested, reframed and adapted
to the needs of the user (Nissen, 1998, p.154). Te space and its purpose
of use gets newly interpreted. Tereby the appropriation of public spaces
can support the participation and can lead to an emancipation of the user.
Unfortunately, planning mechanisms, the ways of space production and
the appearance of public spaces have little reacted to this knowledge as of
Relevant to understanding the daily use of spaces is the focus of the
situation. Situations are defned by the physical space and all the infuences
in it, including all objects, the people present and there actions, their social
and biographical background, their relations, the valid social rules and
codes, the time, climate and weather conditions (afer Segern, Werner
2003; Segern 1992). Trough this viewpoint the complexity of public
spaces becomes visible. With the concept of situation the quality of a
place can be described in a detailed way. Tis helps to clarify the complex
circumstances in public spaces.
So how can public spaces appear as a world full of open experiences, of
open interactions as well as of rest, recreation and as inviting spaces of
participation and emancipation? Te paper is suggesting to use Media
Architecture approaches to improve the communicative functions of
urban public spaces and to design new levels of public interaction.
Use of Public Spaces
In the last decades the believe was a formed, that the public spaces
are devaluated by the increasing medialization of the communication
processes. Te new medias (print, broadcast, TV, internet) took over
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 104
the spreading and communication of news, but to manifest political
opinion the public space is still in use through speeches, concerts, festivals,
demonstrations and so on. It is the stage of the social condition and society
conficts. (Kaltenbrunner, 2003, p.28)
Against all prophecies, in the daily life the public spaces are still strongly
used, sometimes even overused, but resilient empirical research about the
real development of urban public spaces in detail is missing. So nobody
has prove of the changing use of public spaces. (Kuklinski, 2003, pp.3-4).
One open question is the character of the user and his needs in the public
spaces. Te alienation and the decoupling between the people and public
spaces has ofen been pointed out. In order to reconnect the people with
the space new possibilities of use and new atmospheres should be created.
In a more user-centered design process the unclear users needs can be
clarifed in a participation process. In general, more empirical research is
needed to defne the relevant requirements of the space and to develop
founded advices for the planning.
So the users needs of public spaces have to be characterized. In the last
years, at least the needs and interests of young people (teenager and young
adults) were researched more in detail by the Wstenrot Stifung. Tese
young people spent half of their free time outdoors, being active, mobile
and enroute (Wstenrot Stifung 2003, 2009). Te perception of the city
by young people can be described as a sequence of events and a process of
occurrences, which is spun of material and immaterial threads (Wstenrot
Stifung, 2009, pp.188-189). So young people perceive the public space as
an experience of diferent spatial situations.
Research of the Use-Management of public spaces by Litscher (2009)
shows that young people are giving public spaces a high value. Important
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 105
to them is the possibility of choosing diferent options and spaces as well
as to stage their way of life in the public. Te way of using the public spaces
can be diferent and provocative against the common opinion of the older
generation, but it is an active use of space. Conficts which are articulated in
the urban public spaces are based mostly in the social challenges of society.
In this context, the recommendation is to get the young people to
participate in the planning, to support self dependent acting in space,
to invest in layers of interaction and to improve the public part (outside
faade) and the structure of buildings, so to enrich the public functions of
architecture (Litscher, 2009, p.13, Sieverts, 2007, p.10). Tese are all links
for using Media Architecture approaches.
Te Experiment U-DJ of the Wstenrot research made a practical
intervention by installing a public listening station in a subway station,
where young people got invited to play their owe music. With this
intervention the trafc area became a stage and a place to pause. Tis small
example suggests the potentials of interactive opportunities in public
spaces (Wstenrot Stifung 2009, p.169).
Also the Wstenrot Stifung postulates the need of real public spaces,
which are not limited by private interests and has got a high level of
freedom of movement. Young people have a strong desire for diferentiated
and multilayered public spaces with a wide range of spatial and emotional
experiences and atmospheres. Especially rare are free and open spaces for
spontaneous games (like football), meeting points and communication
areas without any consumer stress (Wstenrot Stifung, 2009, p.187).
Young people need multifunctional spaces where they can experience
diferent situations at the same time as well as safe resting areas. And they
need free spaces to experiment with their personal way of life.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 106
To increase the identifcation as well as the responsibility of people with
their neighborhood and their cities, better direct participation by planning
and design of urban public spaces is needed.
A lot can be done to raise the quality of urban public spaces. But what role
can Media Architecture play? How is Media Architecture able to support
and may be to start participative processes and emancipative forces in the
public space?
Media Architecture Examples and Approaches
In the 21st century the technology revolution will move into the everyday,
the small and the invisible. Mark Weiser, 19521999
Ways of Implementation
Todays technical developments enables the creation of new forms of
public spaces by the use of new media and technology.
Te diferent ways of implementation of technology in the urban space
shell be illustrated by some examples. Tereby several approaches to enrich
the public spaces can be shown.
Te Tower of Winds by Toyo Ito, fnished in 1986, still gives the
standard of the enrichment of the urban space by Media Architecture.
Here architecture is as a holistic medium and produces a special ambience.
Tis light sculpture represents the nature and complexity of the city and
their inhabitants by reacting to man-made and natural forces, such as
ambient sounds, wind forces, time of day and season. Tere is no direct
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 107
man-machine-interaction, but the Tower of Winds visualized the sense
of the palace in a unique way. It makes aware the complexity and infuences
of the urban space (Archidose, 2004).
Media Facades
Te Blinkenlights project of the Chaos Computer Club in 2001 in
Berlin can be pointed out as the prototype of using a building facade as an
interaction tool in the urban space. Te possibility of controlling the light
shape of the building, of sending personal massages and of collaborating
by playing games via mobiles made people enthusiastic about it. Tis
illustrates the strong potentials of interactive opportunities in urban space
(project blinkenlights, 2010).
Supported by the increasing development of technology, buildings
get complete covered by media facades and appear in the city as three
dimensional media-bodies. Tis media-bodies have the power to dominate
the public space by size and by light output. Te biggest example of today
is the Bayer Tower in Leverkusen. It is installed with the argument of
innovation, of activation the urban space and of bringing a new landmark
to the region. Te media faade airs information into the city space. By art
projects and events, the public shell get benefts. Finally the information is
controlled by the company and of course, the Bayer Logo beams all over
the city of Leverkusen. It is omnipresent in the city. (media architecture
institute, 2009.)
A careful implementation of a media faade is the example of the PDS Bank
in Mnster. Tis project tries to mediate between the interests of the bank
and of the public through a participation process and a mixed content.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 108
Tere are many references to the city itself. For example, the media faade
shows pictures of the city of Mnster (Ag4, 2008; PSD Bank, 2008).
Te Crystal Mesh faade of the ILUMA building by realities:united in
Singapore do not uses LED-Meshes. It tries to avoid the imitation of a
TV-screen. Here the faade is architectural, not invisible but sculptural.
It generates the character of the building by ornamental light-elements.
Te use of only white light and the varied resolution supports a sculptural
and more abstract appearance of the building. Its becoming an unique
character and enriches the urban public space (realities:united, 2009).
Te project Enteractive by Electroland in Los Angeles visualize user
activities in the building on the outside faade into the urban space. Inside,
an interactive foor animates the people to step on LED tiles like in a game
sow. Outside, the light reactions are displayed and repeated. Except of the
fickering lights the urban space gets not infuenced by this installation
Emotional Bodies
A more emotional kind of Media Architecture is the D-Tower by
NOX in Doetinchem, Netherlands. It claims to be a public refection
tool of feelings. Trough the input of the actual feelings of the people
of the city, based by a questionnaire, the tower identifes the mood of
the city. Te mood is translated to several colors. Te tower shows the
colored light as a feedback to the inhabitants. Trough the deal with the
feelings of the community, the D-Tower enters a level beyond the direct
communication of text massages or motion detecting (D-Toren, 2007;
Gemeente Doetinchem, 2007).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 109
Bubbles by Materials & Applications is a spatial adaptable pneumatic
environment, as far as the sources show, in a semipublic location. Te
interactive installation is reacting on touches and involves the visitors by
modifying the shape of the infated bubbles. Tis creates a sensual and
tactile dialog with the visitors. With this, the installation points out the
potential of reactive environments in an experimental way (Materials &
Applications, 2007; Bubbles, 2007).
Responsive architecture
Projects like the muscle tower II (2006) of the hyperbody research group
of the TU Delf, the Aegis Hyposurface by dECOi Architects (2001), or
the Refexive Architecture Machines (2010) by the Situated Technology
Research Group at the University at Bufalo, Department of Architecture
are experimenting with interactions by kinetic processes, to build up
physical interactions to the environment. Its still a feld of basic research,
but there can be expected spectacles impressions on the way to get real the
dream of movable or refexive architecture (Interactive architecture, 2007;
TU Delf, 2009; Interactive architecture, 2006; Refexive Architecture
Machines, 2010).
Kinetic architecture
Te Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam by West 8 is a much more basic
example of a moving architectural element, but it is realized in the public
space. Tis central square of Rotterdam is designed as a public stage.
Hugh lamps, shaped as cranes, are installed to illuminate the square. Tis
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 110
lamps becoming an interactive element by the operation of the people. If
somebody puts a coin in, the crane starts to move. So the user is asked
to act and to intervene in the public space. As a city stage, the square is
fexible in use and changing during day and seasons. Tis concept works
with diferent elements like lightning, fountains and crane lamps to create
an inviting atmosphere. With this elements, the public space becomes a
playground and a feld of physical interaction (WEST 8, 1996).
Interaction areas
Te Living-Light project by the Living Architecture Lab (David
Benjamin, Soo-In Yang) of the Columbia University, Graduate School
of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, has developed a building
faade, which displays the air quality of the city and the public interest in
it. It is realized as a pavilion in the Peace Park in Seoul. Te information
about the development of air quality in the related part of the city is given
by lighting up the single panels. Per text massages, people can ask the
pavilion to get informed about the air quality of a district. Te interest is
displayed by blinking of the asked panel. So this faade works as a public
information board. A content leaded control is used. It informs about the
development of the air quality and about peoples interest in it. Tereby, it
is increasing the perception of public issues like air pollution. It can make
people aware of there environment. Here, Media Architecture becomes a
communication tool of the public space (Te Living, 2009).
Magical Mirrors was kind of art project and a test setting in the public
space. In the middle of Berlin integrated in a faade of a ofce building,
several reactive working large screen were situated in the pedestrian area of
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 111
a street. In passing, people got irritated and curious about it and started to
explore the screens. By observations and interviews, the rules of motivation
to interact with ofered interactive applications were researched. Tis is a
basic research of the user-application relation in public spaces (Michelis
Te intension of the Moodwall by Urban Alliance, situated in a low
pedestrian tunnel in a neighborhood of Amsterdam Bijlmer, is formulating
a technological intervention within the local environment as reaction to
the existing social context. Te wall reacts to the movement of passers-
by by dynamic light changes. Te aim is to reduce the feeling of security
in the local area. Tis example uses Media Architecture as an instrument
to improve the quality of the public local environment. With the project
several questions can be researched: What kind of mood is created by the
wall? How strong is the reduction of unsafe feelings? By what exactly the
insecure atmosphere can be improved? By which associated measures the
efects of the wall can be supported? And what efect has the interventions
to the general problem of social unsafe areas? (urban alliance, 2009).
An other project with the similar intention is LIC/LAAC - Light
Information Cube/ Local Annonymous Asynchronus Communication.
A light cube intervenes in non-places. Tis project uses form, light and
a LED text scroller to create a social orientated communication tool and
a meeting point for the local inhabitants. Trough text based content, the
quality of the public space as well as the social condition of asylum seekers
gets a platform. A participation ofer through text massaging is included. So
technical interventions combined with a communication strategy can be a
way to involve the neighborhood and to start a process of understanding
(co-lab, 2002).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 112
In the Dessau municipal park, the park lights are changing by the presence
of people. Te Project, called ReLief Reactive Light Energy Field,
suggested several measures to intensifying the parks use. Te assignment
asked to design a concept of more surveillance and security technology.
Actually, the criminal statistics and the local research showed, the feeling
of security was not founded on facts. Te implemented light concept
lights some essential zones of the park with brightly light, while other areas
remain dark. So darkness and insecurity are still elements of the park. In the
selected zones, the perceived security is increased. Te visitor can choose
between lightness and darkness, the diferent qualities increase the parks
multiple uses. By movement sensors, the idea is further supported: Te
less movement there is in the environment, the darker the lighting stays.
Tis sketches a changeable image of the nightly park usage and increases
the cost- and energy-efciency. Every approaching movement will be
registered through the light-energy feld, so that secure and safe feeling
will increase is well (realities:united, 2010).
Te Project Bench of Light by Stefan Sous shows the power of light to
support the use of urban spaces in a direct way: park benches becomes light
objects and by this a request to stay. By the function of a bench, meetings
and group forming is supported (Stefan Sous, 2002; Lichtnet, 2006).
Intervention tools
To empower the single user of public space, the grafti research lab has
develop several intervention tools based on electronic devices such as the
LED Trowies and the L.A.S.E.R Tag. Tese tools are working directly
with the public space and are personifying the technique. It enables
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 113
individual remarks in the public space. Te user is asked and supported to
infuence the environment actively. Te intention to break the technical
devices down to the individual user transfers the idea of the open source
sofware into the public space. Tis philosophy can be a key approach to
develop user-centered interactive opportunities in public spaces (Grafti
Research Lab).
Planning tools
A wider dimension of Media Architecture is the conscious use of digital
media in the planning process and production of space to create interactive
planning tools. It was frst implement by Renzo Piano in his project
Mobile Workshop, UNESCO-Neighbourhood-Workshop, in 1978. A
mobile cube was placed on the market place to create a central meeting
point. Te project was based on the participation of the inhabitants. Te
cube was a communication base, diverse methods like the open council
and the photo-research were combined. For research, participation
and documentation, media technologies were used to support the
communication process. Te interactions of the participation process
were very intensive and meaningful to all sides. So the support of the
participation through media technologies on-site is a innovative setting
and should be used much more in participation processes of today to get
people involved (Piano, R., Brignolo, R., 1997).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 114
Art Projects
Two more art projects I like to highlight to illustrate the opportunities of
dealings with the public space. With the Audio Ballerina (1990), Benot
Maubrey has created an electroacoustic sculpture in the shape of a skirt.
Tis skirt, like the tutu, is equipped with microphones and loudspeakers
and it is wear by a performer. So the performer is able to compose
there own music by sampling the sounds of the environment trough
diferent interfaces (microphones, radio receiver, movement sensors).
Te performer dances with the sampled sound of the environment. Te
sampled sound becomes a part of the environment and get sampled again.
By dancing in the public space, the performer can establish interactions
to other people by sampling there noises. So through the electroacoustic
device their is added an additional communication layer like a flter. Te
sampled sound is bringing together all acoustical infuences. Te sound
becomes the medium of intermediation between the dancer and other
people. Tis people becoming a part of the performance by their own
sounds. Te electroacoustic device is connecting the dancer with the
whole environment. As a next step, the performer can involve people more
directly by dancing. Tis work creates a new communication cannel by
using the electroacoustic device as an interaction catalyst and a contact
machine. (Maubrey, B.; Medien Kunst Netz, Frieling, R.)
Te other project works without any technique. Clegg & Guttmann
were installing Te Open Library since 1991 by placing weatherproof
bookcases in public places. From there, the books could be free taken or
exchanged. Te intention was to monitor the reading and communication
behavior of a neighborhood. As result, the project faced the whole range of
social interaction: Total destruction, enthusiastic acceptance, continuing
the project by citizens initiatives. Te idea of free accessible bookcases also
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 115
was copied several times. Tis project understands the public space as an
collective open and free space, in which values like books can be shared.
Te open library installs a free and discreet ofer to use the public space
as a space of exchange. Te book, a medium by itself, becomes a medium
of the public space. Te question, if people use this ofer, if they ignore
it, if they just take books, if they also bring books or if they destroy the
bookcase shows the social behavior of the people and their relation to the
public space. Te project also generates a virulent communication process:
people start to talk about the bookcases or even to organize themselves
to support the project. Hereby, the project asks for the appropriation
of the public space and deals with the idea of a social sculpture (Ofene
Bibliothek, 2004; Bcher-Wiki, 2010).
Tis selection of projects describes the wide spectrum of todays Media
Architecture. Currently, the efects to the public spaces can only be
imagined, because of the lack of empirical research. All public space
related projects of the paper are classifed through a mapping (fg. 1).
Terein the relation between the size of the efected space to the efected
number of people is show. Te involvement of people is difer in the active
involvement, like tactile experiences or interaction via mobile, and the more
visual involvement by distance to the Media Architecture. Tis mapping is
quite roughly and not based on empirical data, but it gives an impression
of the diferent efects. For example, media faades without the possibility
of interaction are quite fare away and abstract from people. On the other
hand, touchable projects are local based and direct in use of people.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 116
of people
local area city place




involvement of














fg. 1
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 117
Tere are a lot open questions: How do users percept and rate Media
Architecture and their interactive opportunities in the public spaces?
What kind of people give what kind of attention to the interventions of
Media Architecture? How do the opportunities change the user behavior?
Which efect has Media Architecture to the perception of the city and the
urban public spaces?
Te paper shows how little has been done describe the efects of Media
Architecture in the urban public space. Clear statements about the
particular efects of the named projects are depending on a qualitative and
empirical research. Only with this, by asking and observing the potential
users, the accomplishments of Media Architecture could be measured and
pointed out more clearly.
High Tech vs. Low Tech
Many applications of Media Architecture uses high tech solutions. High
tech solutions are complex, highly specialized and needs special knowledge.
Tey uses up-to-date, and therefore, the most expensive techniques. Also
the development of prototypes is quite expansive. So high tech is usually
applied by big companies and big events to get the biggest amount of
reputation and attention. Tis technique makes possible to infuence
strongly the public spaces and to become omnipresent.
Te opposite concept is low tech. In this thinking, applications are
developed by the standard of simple function and producing, simple
handling, robustness and simple maintenance. Low tech means no use of
expensive technology but use of simple working principles and intelligent
solutions to reach high efciency (Wikipedia, 2010). In comparing to
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 118
high tech, low tech is more based on an individual use. Te scale and
performance of low tech applications usually are limited. So the efect
to the urban space is depending on the number of applications. Several
projects shown in the paper work with the low tech concept.
Ofen, the requirements of projects supported by the local authorities, the
administrators of the public space, are similar to the standards of the low
tech concept. Except of so called lighthouse projects, projects needs to
be quite cheep to get realized, robust to keep working for a long time and
easy to understand to be used by all kind of people. Also the maintenance
should be simple. So the design of durable, low-maintenance and quite
cheep applications of Media Architecture by the low tech concept can be
a interesting challenge.
Almost all discussed projects uses light! Te fundamental relevance of
light for the use of the public space can be seen by the implementation
of the street lighting in the 19th century. It was the precondition of the
development of any modern urban night life. Today, cities like Liverpool
have established a night-time economy by illuminating the inner city
to attract it for tourists and visitors. Tis cities are improving their image
through light (Schulte -Rmer, Nona, p.11). Light festivals are organized
by the city marketing (for example Ldenscheid), or by foundations (for
example Berlin) to support the city through cultural events. More and
more cities follow the example of Lyon to develop a master plan of light
and to realize a general light concept of the whole city. (LichtRouten,
2010; City Stifung Berlin, 2010).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 119
Light mediates safeness and supports the perception of spaces. Te station
branding concept as well as projects like the Moodwall argues with this
aspect. By illuminating buildings and landmarks, a city can realize a self-
dramatization of its character. Light is used to shape spaces and to promote
positive images of the city. Tis attitude has become a basic element of city
marketing strategies.
In this context, illuminated buildings and special light objects reshapes the
silhouette of a city and emphasizes special places and areas. Tereby the
collective memory of a city can be supported.
Artifcial light defnes spaces specifcally. It becomes a tool of urban design.
If it is corresponding to the urbanistic and social environment, it can
support the readability of spatial, historical and social coherences of the
Light dos not stop at the plot boundaries. Tis enables exciting but confict-
laden opportunities of space shaping in the urban space. Te increasing
use of light by private investors in the public spaces is a challenge by
developing a coordinated light atmosphere of the overall city. Here again,
the question of who owns the public space? is touched and concepts for
the enhancement of social interaction in the public spaces are required.
Quite small interventions can support this efciently, as the project like the
Bench of Light by Stefan Sous is shown. (About light master planning:
Zentrum fr Internationale Lichtkunst, 2010).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 120
Interactive Parasite
First time the concept was presented on the exhibition
bremen2.0 - thinking a new city, Bremen, 2008.
Te starting point to develop the concept of the Interactive Parasite was
the question, how the technical opportunities of today can be used and
being integrated in the public spaces to support their sojourn quality in a
free, open and not commercialized way?
Te basic concept of the Interactive Parasite is an interactive sculpture (spatial
structure) added in the urban public space to create a new atmosphere.
Te metaphor of the parasite emphasizes the idea of intervention. Te
sculpture adds interactive functions to the environment. Terewith, the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 121
user of the public space should interact with the environment and other
users. He should get motivated by curiosity or involved en passant.
Te purpose of an Interactive Parasite is to enable open individual or
group interventions into the public spaces by ofering interfaces and new
possibilities of use. Te user can infuence or impress his environment by
using the ofered interfaces. Te parasite becomes a control panel and
the user is sending out personal signals. Tereby also the environment
gets personifed. Te user can read the environment as part of himself.
A process of confrontation and identifcation is started by the use of the
ofered interactive opportunities. Within this whole process, the involved
person becomes a producer of the public space and of its atmosphere. Te
concept develops a kind of public playground to make the public space
more fexible for the diferent needs of use and to test and to learn about
the personal behavior in the public space.
In contrast to temporary projects, the intension of the concept is to install
a permanent working structure to become an integrated part of the public
space in daily use. To attract the public space itself by interactions and
atmospheres they have to be permanent installed. For a permanent use,
other conditions and rules of perception are working. Te appearance, the
way of interaction and involvement has to work with little noise. For this
intension, the design of embedded spatial solutions with care or the local
conditions and needs of users is required.
Application Possibilities
To develop these integrated solutions by using technical as well as social
knowledge, the local needs of the users and the requirements of the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 122
public spaces have to be analyzed. Tey can have a wide range. Probably,
a pensioner likes to have a diferent atmosphere and spatial setting of the
same site as a teenager. Also a central town square needs to get a complete
diferent parasite as a public park or a street with there parking places,
building entrances and small free spaces.
Especially for the enhancement of neglect public spaces, the change of
the atmosphere and the integration of interactive opportunities can be an
invitation of use and participation. Projects like LIC/LAAC and may
be the Moodwall show this. Tey work in a local scale and combine
technical solutions with social contents and communication strategies to
support a neighborhood.

Acting and Motivation
Depending on the ofered interfaces, there are conscious and unconscious
possibilities of use. If the light in a city park is changing by the movement
of people en passant, it is quite unconscious (Project ReLief ). If there
is a button to push, like at the Interactive Parasite, people need to decide
and act very consciously. Also there are diferent ways to attract the acting.
Since the Blinkenlight project looks like the most used idea to involve
people in interaction in public is gaming.
Interactions in the public spaces are free to choose. So there has to be a
setting, which creates motivation. Te rules of motivation in public spaces
frst were empirical researched by Michelis (2009) with his test project
Miracle Mirrors. He points out fve motivational factors: challenge
and control, curiosity and exploration, choice, fantasy and metaphor and
collaboration (Michelis, 2008). Te user gets motivated by identifying an
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 123
interaction target and by a direct feedback of its acting. To get curious,
interaction opportunities needs to be quick understandable, surprisingly
and unpredictable. Te more choices a user can make, the more the
interaction is interesting. Metaphors can explain the interaction before
starting it. To interact together with other people in one place can create
collaborative interactions like gaming.
Situational Spaces
Te concept of the Interactive Parasite can be extended to a comprehensive
concept of developing difered layers of experience and use in adoption to
the local conditions and needs. Te combination of the built environment
including interactive opportunities to a tangible atmosphere in an open,
not commercial, way can be a resilient proposal of the confguration of
todays urban public spaces.
Te infuence of people to decision making, to the shape and to the
possibilities of use in public spaces needs to be upgraded. Only by a higher
integration of the interests and needs of people, the public space can keep
its urban function and can be an attractive alternative to commercialized
and gated zones. To connect people more directly with there environment,
the integration of public interactive applications can be one tool to make
urban public spaces more manipulable. New forms of spatial interaction
can show directly the personal appropriation of the public space. Tis helps
to coupling people with the public spaces and supports the identifcation
with the environment. Trough the extended concept of the Interactive
Parasite, public spaces receives the chance to acquire people by new kinds
of appearances and possibilities of use.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 124
In this wider perspective, the concept suggests to create public spaces with
opportunities of individual appropriations by interactive applications.
Analog to the idea of the Web 2.0 there is imaginable a Public Space
2.0, which supports the individual activities of the users and which ofers
several ways to infuence the environment. To this, the social factors of the
environment need to be considered. By the connection of an open and
inviting spatial design (support of diferent needs) with several interactive
functions (support of communication), a public space could ofer diferent
situations and satisfy diferent needs in one place. By time, by user and
by use, the space would be adaptable and later on may be adaptive.
Tese situational spaces would ofer selectable experiences and diferent
opportunities of a direct use in one place. Tereby situational spaces would
produce a wide range of ofers to the diferent kind of people living in the
city. But this situational spaces can not be thought by using technology
only. Te combination a open social setting with a diferentiate spatial
design and public interactive applications can multiply situations. By
increasing the public communication and the borders of tolerance, there
can be developed a new integration power of urban public spaces. Tese
situational spaces would ofer a new kind of quality of public spaces.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 125
Te concept of the Interactive Parasite was frst presented in 2008 at the
exhibition Bremen 2.0 thinking a new city by a prototype model. In
2009 started the realization in the public space as a long term installation
for the cultural center Schlachthof in Bremen.
Te project tries to connect the questions of getting attention, representing
the institution, caring about the user participation and dealing with the
quality of space to create a special type of Media Architecture.
On one hand the Cultural Center is located next to the residential area
Findorf, on the other hand to the biggest town square Brgerweide.
Usually it is a huge parking area. Every once in a while temporary events
takes place. Just next to it is the trade exhibition area. Within sight is
located the main station of Bremen. Nevertheless the location lies in the
backside of the city. Te cultural center itself creates a open atmosphere
with a kind of experimental or alternative touch. Especially to young
people the site ofers a free accessible skater area. So the reachable space of
the Interactive Parasite is the public space around the cultural center.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 126
Central Station
(back side)
Town Hall,
Trade Exhibition &
Town Square
Cultural Center
Municipal Park
City ground plan, Bremen
Entrance area of the cultural center
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 127
Te site is daily used by young people.
Te cultural center was looking for a new kind of outside representation to
be noticed as an active cultural institution of the city. Passers-by should get
interested about the cultural ofers. Afer a quite long time of discussion
about diferent possibilities and options the cultural center decided to
support the idea of the Interactive Parasite.
Te Interactive Parasite is an multifunctional object with three diferent
layers. Its purpose is to change the general appearance of the cultural
center by a small intervention. Te frst layer is the unique shape and the
highlighted position in about 25 Meter height. Te object is a special sign
of the cultural center, visible from far distances, especially at night. Te
second layer is the light. Tere are 27 diferent appearances by switching
the light. Te single lights are combined in a way to get asymmetric pattern,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 128
so the audience will not understand the logic of the pattern and the
installation keeps to be a bit cryptic. Te light concept generates attention
in the evening and at night. Te third layer is the interactive application
by a control panel. It is placed at the entrance area of the cultural center
depending on time and event. Its the tool to bring the interactive function
to the visitors. Via microphones, the sound of the wind in 25 meters height
is hearable at the control panel. Tis creates a connecting atmosphere to
the structure above. By discovering and listening the control panel, people
should get curious. To use the control panel for interaction, the visitor only
needs to push the bottom. In this moment he becomes an active role: the
visitor becomes a producer of space by turning on and of the lights of the
cultural center. Tis fash lights and light changes, for example, can be seen
as far as to the main station. So people in the surroundings gets attracted.
Te cultural center can visualize its activity through the light changes.
Te implementation of the Interactive Parasite is not fnished jet. If this
is happened, particular the positioning of the control panel to test the
diferent possibilities and situations of use and to analyze the motivation
of the potential users can be researched. Also variations of the function,
such as the direct connecting of the light changes to the activities of the
cultural center (for example by concerts) can be tested.
Tis project works with the concept of low tech. Te budget for realization
is very small. So the used material is basic, stainless steel for the structure,
fuorescent lamps from the building center for the light, cables and buttons
for the electric, microphones and powered speakers for the sound. Te
challenge of a low budget was taken by the intension to create a basic
interaction unit and to test the minimum requirements of a working
interactive application in the public space. Depending on the fnancial
resources, the installation can be more developed in future.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 129
Interactiver Parasit, draft, interactive functions
Interactive Parasit
light panels (controllable)
light stripes (controllable)
cameras (controllable)
speakers (controllable)
spotlights (controllable)
projectors (controllable)
contol panel
control of light, sound ...
... listen to the sound of wind
light stripe
light panel
camera & microphon
Draf of the Interactive Parasite
View fom Findorf, Parasite at night
Entrance area
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 130
Views fom the site to the parasite, control panel
Te Parasite, Entrance area
Te site at night
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 131
In the frst feedbacks, the employee of the cultural center gave positive
and mixed reactions about the installation. Te comments ranged from
A sign of art and culture, visible from a long distance to a irritated Oh,
whats this?. In general the interactive issue gets the most attention. Tere
is an interest of further developments. But also misgivings of the strong
dominance of the concept, if a similar sculpture would be installed on the
Tere are several opportunities of research through this installation. It is
an open structure and can be modifed or extended. Tere can be analyzed
the possibilities of motivation to enter the interaction, the perception by
visitors and passers-by and the overall efects to the public space.
With the made experiences there can be proposed a frst approach of
categorization to evaluate test projects and fnd out more about the
settings and typologies.
First approach of categorization of test projects
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 132
Research and Methods
To fnd out more facts about the efect of Media Architecture in public
spaces, the paper suggest to use empirical research combined with test
Tere are many things to research about Media Architecture in public
First of all is the question about the signifcant efects of Media
Architecture in public spaces. Te suspected efects needs to be described
and to be analyzed empirically. Only an empirical research can deliver valid
and applicable knowledge.
Te empirical research works with a mix of methods. It includes mapping,
feld studies, qualitative interviews, the analysis of the medial and social
pattern of interaction as well as the study of open and covered conficts, of
the sense of security and of the typical forms of use. Tereby, a user-centered
approach to fnd out more about the users needs plays an important role.
Tis mix of methods is developed in the feld of planning theory, which
researches about the spatial planning and urban development. For example,
an evaluation of the quality of public spaces was done with this Mix of
Methods by Paravicini (2002).
Te research will be enlarged by the concept of research through design
( Jonas, 2004). With test projects the efects of public spaces becomes
monitored. So the infuence of Media Architecture in space can be tested
and adjusted. Tis kind of test arrangement helps to understand the means
and the mode of action of Media Architecture in public spaces. Other
examples of using test projects to analyze the behavior of people in public
spaces are the installation Magical Mirrors by Michelis (2009) and the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 133
experiment U-DJ of the Wstenrot Stifung (Wstenrot Stifung 2009,
Te project Interactive Parasite is initiated with the intension of being a
research object.
Te next steps of research should be a continuous monitoring of the
Interactive Parasite, to analyze single topics through modifcations and the
further development of the installation. Te accumulated knowledge can
be used to design update versions and prototypes for diferent situations
in public spaces.
Tis research aims at developing contextual knowledge to planners and
designers and transferable concepts of Media Architecture.
So by which measures Media Architecture becomes a social catalyst in the
urban public space?
Te Key is to bring together the topical issues of urban pubic spaces with
the multifaceted possibilities of Media Architecture. Tis discipline
develops a wide range of applications and strategies to create emotions,
to impact information, to transform spaces and by this, to touch peoples
feelings. Tis is a great resource and potential.
Urban public spaces are heterogeneous and have complex requirements.
Tey are still the daily world of experience of people living in the cities. In
urban public spaces is formed an essential part of the individual identity.
Tere, also the values of a democratic society are negotiated.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 134
To strengthen this public stage Media Architecture can add
communicative and interactive applications to the urban space. Such as
stimulating atmospheres, fexible spaces, activating or calm areas and not
at least participative tools. Media Architecture can develop diferentiated
ofers to the various needs of the users. Te discussed examples give
an insight into this. Te design of free and open urban public spaces
can be a productive challenge to the discipline. In order to support the
appropriation of urban public spaces, Media Architecture can play a
special role as a interface of mediation.
Te current efects of Media Architecture to the public space one only can
guess. Tere is a lack of empirical research about it.
To explore an approach of empirical research, the paper suggests the use of a
mix of qualitative and empirical methods in combination with experiments
and test projects founded on the concept of research through design.
As a test project, the Interactive Parasite provides various possibilities to
research in this way.
Te research focuses on the relation between the user, the interactive
application and the urban space. Te purpose is to develop contextual
knowledge and transferable concepts in the feld of Media Architecture,
which helps to enrich and to open up the usability and atmosphere of urban
public spaces by a progressive use of todays technological possibilities as
well as the topical social knowledge.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 135
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MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 141
Rolf Kruse
Dipl.-Ing. Arch.
FH Erfurt, Interim Professor Media Design
Altonaer Str. 25, D-99085 Erfurt
Pedro Aibo
Dipl. Ing. Dipl. Ing. Arch.
Hhler und Partner, Architect
Shatti Alqurum, Sultanate ofOman
Interactive Spaces
Cidadania is an experimental approach to explore new ways to visualize
the dynamics of spaces and to make them accessible to a broader audience
in a live performance. It is based on two strong believes:
Broad understanding of spatial and social development processes and
participation is essential for sustainable planning of community spaces.
New media technologies help to communicate and discuss those issues.
Architects have to continuously experiment with the perception of space
by ordinary people. Otherwise they are tempted to react to challenges
with established principles and patterns instead of adapting up-to-date
methods and processes.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 142
What is Cidadania?
Initiated in 2008 at the Architecture Department of the Technical
University Darmstadt, the Cidadania project today is driven by an
interdisciplinary and international group of artists, scientists, students
and professionals from diferent areas like architecture, media arts, music,
dance, acting, computer science, mechanical engineering, and marketing.
Fig. 1 Interaction between video content and actors
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Organismus Darmstadt
Fig. 2 Collage illustrating the manifold elements of the play
Until now two diferent plays have been developed and staged in diferent
locations in Europe. Te conference presentation will focus on the
concept and implementation of the frst performance called Organismus
Darmstadt which dealt with the continuously changing structure of
urban space. It was performed in the Staatstheater Darmstadt in 2008.
Te two hour performance had manifold elements of interactivity between
multimedia content, actors, dancers, musicians and the audience: From
specially composed and live performed music (from a Balkan folk group,
a Scottish pipe band, a new music ensemble and a jazz quintet) through
multiple large moving video screens, up to an Virtual-Reality (VR)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 144
Changing Spaces
Corresponding to the diferent chapters of the play, which are describing the
historical development of the city of Darmstadt, the spatial arrangement
of the room changed multiple times. Te goal was to keep the audience
physically and thus mentally in motion as it occurs in our urban space in
a slower speed.
In the beginning of the performance the screens only let little space for the
audience stepping in while the tribune was occupied by the live band. At
frst people were irritated, but afer some time they arranged themselves to
share the provided cubes for sitting.
Fig. 4 Shared Space: Spatial setup at the beginning of the performance
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 145
Fig. 5 Motion: Movable screens with 36 m2 synchronized video projection
In contrast to that scenario some other arrangements immersed the
audience into the performance: Spectators stood between the projection
cones with the actors walking and dancing around them. Tis situation
made them a part of the staging which simulated the experience of a public
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 146
Fig. 6 Search: One of the spatial setups to oblige
audience to search for a perfect view spot
Fig. 7 Intimacy: Dancing scene performed in the narrow
space between the screens and the audience
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 147
Fig. 8 Force: For the pause, the moving screens slowly pushed
the audience out of the room while showing a video about
the role of the citizen in the super-organism: city.
Virtual Reality Scenario
According to the interdisciplinary and cross media approach, a high
tech 3D visualization technology was applied. In cooperation with the
Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research (IGD-A5) and
based on data from the Hessian Ministry of Economics (HMWVL), a
large digital model of the city of Darmstadt and detailed 3D models of
landmark buildings were created by students. One challenge was to create
models that can be rendered in real-time, but still maintain their individual
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 148
Fig. 9 Large scale 3D city model
Fig. 10 Rebuilding the City: Texture of landmark building
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 149
From passive to active
In a central chapter of the play, up to 10 people from the audience were
able to control the movement of the landmark buildings just by wearing a
hat and walking in front of a large projected cityscape. Tis changed their
role from a passive spectator to an active participant of the play.
Fig. 11 Participation: Citizens as planners in the Virtual Reality scene
Te real-time interaction was performed in three steps:
Te frst scene shows landmark buildings of the city of Darmstadt (such as
historical buildings or new ones such as the Darmstadtium.) as seen from
a pedestrian view on a black background. Providing a very compressed
tessellated impression of the city.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 150
Fig. 12 First scene: landmarks buildings recognition
Changing to a slight birds eye perspective, the layout of the whole city of
Darmstadt becomes visible: streets, parks, axes, industrial areas etc. People
now are given the task to fnd the actual locations of the building.
Again the perspective changes to a view almost from top. All other building
blocks of the city are added to the scene like an injection. A particle system
(as it is known from physical simulations) was used to make these buildings
continuously moving around while trying to fnd the best solution between
two potentially opposite conditions: 1) move to the place of origin and 2)
avoid collisions with other blocks and especially the landmark buildings.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 151
Fig. 13 Second scene: Street grid added
Te (at frst unwanted) jittering of the buildings fnally generated a really
adequate look associated with organism, change and uncertainty.
In step 1 the participants viewed the buildings from ground like they
know from everyday live as citizens (= users of the city). By changing the
perspective to a top view they had the chance to see, rearrange and thereby
rethink the city like planners ofen do - but in a playful and collaborative
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 152
Fig. 14 Tird scene: all other buildings are added
Interaction Technology
In the setup for the interactive scene, developed by the Media Faculty of
the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (h_da) with support by
Invirt-VirtualEnvironmentsGmbH, three cameras (B/W, Firewire) were
mounted in the ceiling and observed the space in front of the projection
For tracking the position of the people moving in front of the projection
screens, the reacTIVision-Toolkit (Kaltenbrunner and Bencina, 2008) was
used. Usually the system is used to track tangible objects on rear-projection
systems. In our setup the sofware detected fducial markers placed on top
hats that the users were wearing. Te calculated position and rotation of
the fducials were sent to the 3D rendering system via the TUIO protocol.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 153
Fig. 15 Simulation of the tracking camera view
Fig. 16 Hardware setup; Multichannel video playback, tracking & 3D rendering

MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 154
Fig. 18 Hat with Fiducial Marker
To improve the at frst very instable - tracking we applied several
Enlarging the visual features of the fducials without changing their
physical size by reducing their complexity (and the maximum number of
Cutting out the markers from a sheet of felt to reduce refections.
Calibrating each camera to compensate for lens distortion.
Setting up the theatre lighting to light up the interaction space evenly
without illuminating the projected images.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 155
For the realtime rendering of the virtual cityscape the X3D-framework
Instant Reality, developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Computer
Graphics in Darmstadt (Fraunhofer IGD-A4, 2008), was used. Te
researchers helped with a lot of inside tips and optimizations, like the
TUIO communication and the collision avoidance algorithm.
Space and Time
Space and time is the latest Cidadania performance, developed and
performed for the United Nations. Especially written for the International
Astronomy Year 2009 the audience was taken on a mellow journey
through current questions of astronomy mixed with society issues.
Fig. 19 Space and time in the UN in 2009
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 156
A 360 degree video projection and 3 other big screens allowed to transform
a room radically and to transport a message of knowledge quest.
An update to this performance is currently under development and will
add dance and theatre play. Premiere in Staatstheater Darmstadt on 26th
of November, 2010.
Fig. 20 Space and time in Staatstheater in 2009
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 157
Experience and Learnings
Since the beginning of the Cidadania project experiences were made on
two levels, which are equally important and interwoven: the genesis of the
performances and the reaction of the visitors.
Joining together people from many and very diferent areas, was not at
all easy; being partly students and partly professionals working for the
experience and the result, but not for the money. Creating something new
together is even more difcult since there is no common sample you can
reference to. Not all team members have the same potential for open and
constantly evolving results.
Most of the people with whom we worked appeal to be lef alone with their
own feld of expertise - rather than to take the interdisciplinary approach.
Tis one requires a great deal of time and energy to understand all parts
requests and needs, noticeable for example in rehearsal time management.
Tis universal principle of energy saving is partially overcome by constant
group meetings and also, sadly, by a top-down decision process which was
being avoided all time possible. Avoided also due to the non-proftable task
everyone was involved.
As the team grew together it was noticeable that the around 80 people
directly involved, slowly found their responsibility within the group which
increased the quality of the whole.
It is important therefore to maintain an open and transparent dialog
between the diferent creative viewpoints all time and avoid top-down
unilateral decisions. Principles which we are preserving for the forthcoming
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 158
Coming Up for 2011
Currently we are working on a new project outside of an auditorium.
Again the driving interest is on awareness for the dynamics of architectural
environments and social network through a spatial experience and active
participation. But this time we plan to have mobile devices running an
Augmented Reality application showing personal and external social
relationships as 3D shapes and volumes.
Te role each one of us plays within the dynamism of the architecture
playground. We intend to translate the experiences made in the last three
years of enclosed performances into a wall free one.
and further Sources
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http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/534/ [24 Sep 2010].
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http://www.cidadania.info [24 Sep 2010].
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Ich bin das Schloss, Darmstdter Echo, 17.10.2008.
Kaltenbrunner, M. and Bencina, R. (2008) reacTIVision - Toolkit, [Online],
Available: http://reactivision.sourceforge.net [24 Sep 2010].
Ludwig, A. (2008) Interaktives Teater - Die Zuschauer sitzen
mittendrin, Frankfurter Rundschau, 07.10.2008.
Zylinder bewegt Hochzeitsturm, Darmstdter Echo, 17.10. 2008.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 159
Where the Action Should Be -
Learning from MicroPublicPlaces
Marc Bhlen
Department of Media Study
University At Bufalo
MicroPublicPlaces [1] (MPP) discussed two prominent vectors of the
21st century: the decay of the public realm and the global expansion of
information systems. From the perspective of architectural design practice,
the decay of the public realm and the rise of the age of information can
be seen as related since architecture is the most public of arts while
information design is the most public of technologies. MPP argued that
a reinterpretation of the scope and focus of information design has the
potential to reinvigorate, on multiple levels, the public realm. A video
overview of the work is available here [2].
Tis short text will add to the discussion of three (of several) information
design problems the MPP project considered: hiding, organizing, and
materializing data fows [3]. Te aim is to show why these issues carry
weight beyond the MPP project itself.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 160
Hiding data flows
Mark Weisers observation that profound technologies disappear into
the background haunts us today with a new disappearing act: cloud
computing. Te virtualization paradigm upon which the cloud metaphor
is formed is a business bonanza of global proportions. Cloud computing
promises carefree data handling, an end to personal responsibility for
sofware management and storage expansion; in short, it replaces personal
computing with a more contemporary customer-service based model:
ofshore computing. Te ofshore approach was a very successful model
for the fnancial industry, and it promises to be similarly successful for the
information industry. Keep the interface personal and local, and move the
internal processes to a service center for optimal control, efciency and
cost reduction. Just as telephone call centers were once outsourced to East
Asia, data storage and processing centers are now disappearing into the
However, at present, the background is not predominantly in the
developing world. Te European Commission has approved only a handful
of countries to provide cloud computing services: the United States,
Canada and Argentina, where they believe privacy laws sufciently protect
consumers [4]. Te business of ofshoring computing writes its own rules.
Proximity to major markets and robust energy infrastructure reverse
the cheap labor seeking, distance-agnostic mandate of globalization. In
addition to numerous startups, many global IT powerhouses are heavily
invested in cloud computing as it scales across diferent user groups and
cultural divides with ease.
With an emphasis on comfort and convenience it seems hard to imagine
why the cloud should not be celebrated by everyone. A foretaste of the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 161
dark side of the cloud can be found in the design details of data centers that
house the data and algorithms computer users demand. Here it becomes
apparent just how inappropriate, but seductive, the cloud metaphor is.
Tere is nothing heavenly about cloud computing the action happens
in real places, in strategically selected cities, towns and remote villages.
Tese private islands of computing, however, are not part of the local
fabric in which they are set. And the critical computing resources they
hold are subject to the rules of private ownership. Guest data is accepted
by invitation only.
Te Stone Mountain Dataplex [5] (SMD) in Kentucky USA - currently
under construction - serves as a case in point. Te SMD will set new
standards for ultra secure data storage for discerning clients. Carved
into a mountain of limestone, SMD will be an autonomous data zone,
sealed behind solid steel blast doors and concrete bunkers. It will have on
site water and sewage treatment, a fre station, a helipad, a power plant,
medical facilities, regular and random foot and vehicle patrols, perimeter
fencing with sensors, ground radar, infrared cameras, motion detection,
biometric access control, remote IP based video and audio monitoring,
license plate recognition, vehicle barrier systems, guarded gates, an onsite
SWAT quick response team, EMF shielding and multiple tiers of electronic
network security, as well as police powers granted by the state to onsite
security personnel. All this results in, as the prospectus claims, indefnite
self-sustainability for complete stand-alone operability no matter what
happens of-site.
A new digital divide is establishing itself quietly in the background of the
public sphere. It separates the very-well-to-do with access to indefnite
militarized data storage from everyone else.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 162
Organizing data flows
Who decides how information systems are designed? How are the rules
that control them applied, and how can one modify or contest them? Te
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is an example of
an organization responsible for such rules, and IEEE mission statement
claims to foster technological innovation and excellence for the beneft
of humanity [6]. IEEE has established a growing and evolving set of
rules and standards that describe and unify the development and use of
technical systems. Some of the standards are voluntary and others are
consensus based industry agreements. Tey cover everything from learning
technology to environmental impact assessment.
From the vantage point of critical media design in the public realm, the
IEEE Standard 1471 is a particularly interesting example of standards
invention and negotiation. 1471 addresses the activities of the creation,
analysis, and sustainment of architectures of sofware-intensive systems
[7]. 1471 is a recommended practice but important because it introduces
succinct entry points and defned relationships for the concept of
stakeholder with concerns into large-scale sofware design processes. 1471
proposes a framework that, in principle, should allow competing interests
from multiple stakeholders [8] to be represented in the design process
[Fig. 1].
Clearly, 1471 should be a discussion topic amongst humanities scholars.
Despite the proximity of the 1471 standards description to the language of
the social sciences it seems that even Bruno Latours Parliament of Tings
might fnd a home in 1471 there has been little creative interpretation of
1471. Tis is not because 1471 does not allow for contrarians to be included.
Indeed, IEEE claims to seek input from beyond its expert community.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 163
However, access to the design process is reserved to a membership group,
and this group must meet certain membership criteria (hold research
afliation). Tere is no shared discussion on how concerns can be
represented across the disciplines. Tis problem is not just a consequence
of the defense mechanisms of the gate keepers. Humanities professionals
simply do not venture outside of their gated communities enough. Deep
mistrust between the social and engineering sciences continue to prevent
a joint approach to a problem that concerns all. Consequently, the only
people actively developing the 1471 framework are engineers, systems
designers and representatives of corporations. Critical media designers,
philosophers, and hackers remain noticeably absent in the process.
Media interventions in the past have been overly concerned with the
events that occur at the presentation stage of technical artifacts such as
interface and interaction. A next challenge is to get under the surface
of systems. Instead of worrying about mobile phone screen candy and
graphically striking skins, designers should consider the crucial innards
of mobile services such as billing algorithms. Such a shif to infrastructure
intervention and design would not be without precedent.
Fig. 1 Diagram of the IEEE Standard 1471
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 164
Net art practitioners were initially proud to claim that their work derived
its conceptual signifcance from being driven by data sources, not data
displays. A 1997 diagram [Fig. 2] by Mark River and Tim Whidden [9]
shows where they believed the art happened in the connection cables
carrying the bit streams between computers. Network interventions (at
least in the current incarnation of the Internet) are much easier to perform
than intervention into regulation, indeed the latter requires a diferent
approach altogether.
Fig. 2 Te simple net art diagram
Te Wikipedia solution is one example of an intervention into knowledge
regulation. Instead of working by the established rules, Wikipedia made
its own; from the ground up, and let everyone contribute. However, as
the project matured and institutionalized, tensions amongst the various
contribution constituencies increased, and some contested entries had to
be protected from editor-vandals [10]. Wisdom is not always with the
crowd, and concerns can be insufcient criteria for expertise.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 165
Materializing data flows
Te continuing growth in the feld of bit design ofen seems to contrast
fundamental constraints in atoms design; compression of information is
so much easier than compression of matter. Fabrication labs such as the
Center for Bits and Atoms [11] struggle with physical gravity and friction.
But in some domains even these problems can be overcome. Genomics has
embraced information theory and is in place to transform biology into
an engineering discipline, building enzymes block by block [12]. Trailer
sized 3D printers are being developed to build, layer upon diligently
deposited smooth layer, full-scale houses in any formal arrangement [13].
And fber optic communication research is redefning the old binary data
transmission scheme. New long haul transmission and detection systems
make use of polarization multiplexing and phase shif keying of laser signals
to encode four instead of one (intensity based) value, even at record setting
transmission rates [14].
Tese impressive initiatives are successful because they restrict the problem
of material design to a defned problem and omit unnecessary baggage.
Te fundamental principles of information theory are indiferent to
the meaning of the messages they operate on. Te improvements of
transmission and storage bring along no improvement in quality of
content. Te quantitative turn of the 20th century saw information theory
surpass semiotics and robotics outperform cybernetics because they deliver
operational results while their counterparts lack a formal framework. Will
the quantitative and qualitative approaches never fnd common ground?
Dont look for an answer on Twitter.
Maybe additional experiments in materializing data fows should be
considered. What if the baggage removal constraints were selected with
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 166
diferent goals in mind. For example, when Danny Hillis of the Long Now
Foundation considered how to build a clock that could operate for the
next 10000 years [15], he decided not to work with todays green-energy
darling solar electric as it sufers from poor maintainability. Since Hillis
understood that there is no reliable (and easy to maintain) way to keep
a timing element operating precisely for 10000 years, he decided to use
a coupled system, an unreliable timer that adjusts an inaccurate timer in
a mechanical digital loop. Because Hillis wanted to embed the idea of
responsibility into the fabric of this clock, he chose to make it dependent
on people, on human winding, sacrifcing operational efciency for
engagement, favoring social robustness and participation over simplicity of
operation. It is only through the responses to the constraints-requirements
nexus of extreme long duration that this public clock makes any sense.
And the sense it generates symbiotically supports clock logic as a means to
create that which no other clock can generate; a shared responsibility for
a sane future.
Very inefcient systems can be socially very robust. Consider motorcycles
in Tailand, where some 60% of all motor vehicles registered in 2005
were inexpensive 2-stroke engine motorcycles [16]. Cheap, reliable
and maneuverable, motorcycles are indispensable parts of the urban
infrastructure with their own transportation dialects. Public motorcycles,
for example, form a link between bus and train transportation hubs and
public housing. It is not uncommon that a single public motorcycle
carries several passengers on its small seat. Tis is a semi-intimate, public,
poisonous but adaptable transportation subculture and a mobile and
uncontrollable force; a new kind of street-smart, grassroots force with
undeniable power as recent rallies and demonstrations [17] have shown.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 167
Tinking of information as a material, and materials (of all kinds) as
information allows for new kinds of fows. Tey can be powerful, if one
can fnd and implement, carefully, constraints that selectively privilege one
over the other in order to generate qualities neither has alone. For critical
media design this may require some introspection; considering the dessert,
the ocean, the glacier, and the void; places of harshest constraints and
unrecorded potentials.
Fig. 3 WorldWaterOne, detail (courtesy RealTechSupport)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 168
[1] Frei, H., Bhlen, M. , 2010, MicroPublicPlaces, New York, Architectural League of
New York [2] MPP [online] http://www.realtechsupport.org/new_works/mpp.html
[3] Data fows as coined by Manuel Castells and interpreted by Felix Stalder
in: Stalder, F., 2001. Te Space of Flows-notes on emergence, characteristics
and possible impact on physical space, 5th International PlaNet Congress.
[online] http://felix.openfows.com/html/space_of_fows.html
[4] OBrien, K., Cloud Computing Hits Snag in Europe, New York Times, September 20.
[5] Stone Mountain Dataplex. [online] http://stonemountaindataplex.com/
[6] IEEE Mission. [online] http://www.ieee.org/about/vision_mission.html
[7] IEEE 1471. [online] http://standards.ieee.org/reading/ieee/
[8] Te term stakeholder is used in fnance, sociology and resource management
to describe a person or entity with an interest (a stake) or concern in a process and
its outcome. See Te International Development Research Center, Science for
Humanity, Chapter 5: Stakeholder analysis and confict management. [online]
http://www.idrc.ca/en/ev-27971-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html as well as Robertson,
S., Robertson, J., 1999, Mastering the Requirements Process, Addison-Wesley.
[9] RiverM.,WhiddenT.,MTAA.[online]http://www.mteww.com/nad.html
[10] Wikipedia: Ein Kritischer Standpunkt. Konferenzbericht Session II: Digitale
Governance, 24.-26. September 2010. [online] Leipzig, http://www.cpov.de/?p=758
[11] CenterforBitsandAtoms.[online].http://cba.mit.edu/about/index.html
[12] DNA20.[online]https://www.dna20.com/index.php
[13] Contourcrafing.[online]http://www.contourcrafing.org/
[14] Charlet,G., Salsi,M., Bertolini,M., 2009, Taking long repeated submarine systems
to 40 Gbit/s and beyond, ECOC 2009, Paper 9.7.3, 20-24 September, Vienna, Austria.
[15] TeLongNowandthe10000yearclock.[online]
[16] Warapetcharayut, P., Kuson , M., 2006, Te Management of Motorcycles
in Tailand, BAQ Workshop, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 13-15 Dec.
[17] Sopranzetti,C.,2010,Motorcycletaxisliveinthecracksof Taisocie
ty[online] http://asiapacifc.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2010/07/21/
interview-with-claudio-sopranzetti-the-politics-of-motorcycl e-taxis/
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 169
Sound as Interface
Petros Kataras
University College London
Te Bartlett School of Graduate Studies

Ermis Adamantidis
University College London
Te Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
Alaa Alfakara
University College London
Te Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
Sound as Interface is a reactive sound installation for public spaces that
investigates people to people interactions and the relation between
peoples behavior and public space in the case of a digitally augmented
environment. Ubiquitous computing and new digital technologies
embedded in the urban environment increasingly facilitate the emergence
of new types of social interaction through the blending of the physical
with the digital. Te research project presented in this paper sets to explore
how these new patterns of social behavior emerge and unfold in an urban
scenario enhanced with a digital medium for interaction and what are the
implications for social awareness and engagement in this hybrid space.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 170
Observational studies and analysis of a site specifc urban condition are
combined with an experiment that involves the implementation of an
unconventional urban interface in the form of an acoustic installation
that challenges established modes of social encounters. Results show that
people are willing to compromise their social boundaries when faced with
a sonic installation/intervention inside their spatial and social space.
Sound as Interface can be seen as a metaphor for the ubiquitous digital
platforms for social interactions that nowadays constitute a fragmented
and elusive network of virtual public spaces that usually work in parallel
or even substitute the physical public space and its traditional role as a
stage for social encounters. Apart from being just a metaphor Sound
as Interface is also an actual experiment on emergent behaviors through
the unconventional use of embedded technologies and the production of
novel urban experiences. Te aim of Sound as Interface is to create the
potential of social interactions through the use of digital technologies with
sound as the medium and also to examine if there exists any connection
between these interactions and the surrounding spatial properties. Indoor
or outdoor public spaces can be charged with an invisible sonic layer that
manifests itself only through the interaction with the physical presence
of people. McLuhan distinguished space into two categories: visual space
& acoustic space and according to him we have overstimulated our visual
sense over our acoustic sense [Federman, 2003]. Federman takes McLuhan
thoughts even further in an attempt to give credit back to a neglected
acoustic space. For him, it describes perfectly the digital reality of today
that restructures our social interactions. Contrary to visual space which
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 171
is linear and bounded, ordered and continuous, acoustic space constitutes
a resonant sphere whose centre is everywhere and whose boundaries are
nowhere, a world of simultaneous relationships [Federman, 2003].
Sound as Interface raises interesting issues concerning the relation of
people with sound in the contemporary urban environment and the limits
and afordances of sound when used as a medium to entice people into
a shared experience of interaction. Several factors that afect peoples
reaction to sound are identifed such as the existing soundscape or the time
of the day. By experimenting with diferent qualities of sound (volume,
frequency, vocal/instrumental/industrial) the installation can ofer an
insight for general issues on other similar acoustic installations as well as
for issues of sound perception in urban soundscapes.

Background & related projects
Several projects have addressed issues of social encounters through a
digitally augmented environment. Some of them bare a certain resemblance
to the project presented here because they use sound as a medium for
interaction. Audio Grove for example was an interactive light and sound
installation by Christian Moeller consisting of 56 vertical steel posts
connected to a touch-sensitive sensor system [Moeller, 2000]. Tis forest
of vertical posts functioned as an interface through which sound and light
were physically experienced and controlled. Te installation was placed in
an art gallery and the visitors could evoke a soundscape by touching the
posts. Nevertheless, the project was not tested in an open public space but
only in the safe and controlled space of a gallery.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 172
On the other hand, the project Piano Stairs in Stockholm focused exactly
on the issue of infuencing peoples behavior through a reactive platform
using sound [Te Fun Teory, 2009]. More specifcally, the installation
transformed the stairs of a subway station into giant piano keyboard that
produced sounds when someone stepped on it. Te project investigated
whether it is possible to alter peoples habit of using the escalators in favor
of the stairs by introducing an element of fun. However, in this case the
efects of the installation were informally described and the focus was not
on the emergent patterns of interaction between the people but only on
the change of a specifc habit.
Carolina Briones LEDs Urban Carpet, although a project that did not
involve sound, it is considered relevant as it aimed at the creation of shared
social encounters through the use of digital technologies [Briones, et al,
2007]. More specifcally the project consists of a grid of LEDs that can
be embedded as an interactive carpet into the urban context. A pattern
of lights is generated dynamically following the pedestrians over the
carpet and involving them as active participants in an unintentional
shared experience. Te project also introduces broader issues of pervasive
computing and digital systems in contemporary architectural and urban
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 173
Our methodological approach can be divided in to three distinct parts;
observation, empirical experiments and data analysis. Te space where the
installation was situated, was recorded and observed before, during and
afer the installation time. Te goal was to have as many input parameters
as possible for the analysis. Te collected data (video, photos) from the
experiment were analyzed and compared.
Installation set up
Te location of the installation was chosen to be the area outside
PrintRoom caf at UCL main campus. In order to best understand the
properties of such a location we have to frst present the notion of transient
spaces. Transient spaces, also referred to as indeterminate spaces, are spaces
very difcult to quantify because of their inherent heterogeneity [ Jund,
2007]. Although many researchers refer in a negative way to the specifc
spaces, in the present research we use this term in order to highlight
specifc characteristics of the aforementioned spaces in the context of
our research. Temporality and the characteristic of no explicitly assigned
function are two of the characteristics of such spaces [ Jund, 2007]. Te
space outside the PrintRoom caf although outdoor and transient, acts as
a link between diferent spaces of the campus, where diferent categories of
people spent time forming engaging and diverse groups. Te combination
of these attributes creates the potential of a dynamic open urban social
scene, where multiple type of interactions can take place.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 174
Figure 1. Location.
Sound as Interface consists of an array of two (IR) infrared proximity
sensors, forming two distinct sound corridors. Te infrared sensors can
calculate the distance of objects , by continuously taking distance readings
which are then translated into analog voltage values, within a range of
approximately 5 meters . Te sensors are connected with an Arduino board
which sends the corresponded analog reading values (based on peoples
proximity), in to a program written in Processing programming language.
Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on
fexibly, easy-to-use hardware and sofware [http://www.arduino.cc/].
Processing is an open-source programming language and environment
based on Java programming language [http://processing.org/]. Te
program utilizes SoundCipher Processing library [http://soundcipher.
org/] in order to produce diferent sounds, with diferent qualities,
according to the received values, which are then produced back from a set
of speakers. Tere exists a direct link between the distance of the people
from the sensors and the generated sounds; the more close the people are,
the more intense, fast and diferent is the produced sound. Tis has as a
result, the rise of curiosity and interest on how the installation works and
sets the foundations for potential interactions.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 175
Figure 2. Sensors attached to tubular elements.
Figure 3. Final installation set up.
Te fnal set-up of the installation included a visual indication in the form
of coloured tapes pasted on the ground which acted as guide lines. Te
experiment was performed in two stages; the frst test was performed
without showing people how the installation works in order to test their
initial reactions and interactions, while the second test was performed by
asking some colleges to interact with the installation, thus providing an
indication of how the installation works.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 176
Results & Future work
Sound as Interface has strong links with Halls theory of proxemics and the
concept of reaction bubbles that he introduced [Hall, 1966]. According
to Hall a persons space is divided in to three categories: the intimate space
(the closest bubble of space surrounding a person), the social space (the
space in which people conduct social interactions) and the public space (the
era of space beyond which people perceive interactions as impersonal and
anonymous) [Hall, 1966]. In the frst case of experiments results showed
that the amount of people that where willing to engage with an unfamiliar
environment on their own was smaller when compared to the results that
where obtained from the second case. In the frst case, although people
were curious about the nature and the characteristics of the installation,
they presented a hesitation as it concerns their reaction towards the
installation. Teir interest was based more on the understanding of how
the installation works and less on the process of interaction.
Figure 4. Social & physical interactions between strangers.
Figure 5. Social & physical interactions between fiends
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 177
Tis was not the case in the second set of experiments where people were
indirectly introduced in the installation by observing others interacting. In
this case results showed that people became less interested on the how things
work and more interested in the process of interaction and engagement.
Tis tendency of people to mimic behaviors was most apparent when they
encountered other people interacting with the installation. Tey became
interested and they were willing to negotiate their social and physical
boundaries. Tis might have links with research in human psychology
and psychoanalysis which relates social human behavior and a tendency of
humans to follow the majority. Te results also showed that the decision of
the location plays a signifcant role in the success of the specifc research.
A similar experiment carried out in a constrained indoor space did not
produce the same results. People werent interested at all in any kind of
interaction and they remained constrained in their predefned reaction
bubbles. Te characteristics and the nature of urban spaces where an
intervention will be carried out has a major impact in the success or failure
of the attempt and it must always be taking into account.
Future research should include a more in-depth investigation of the links,
if there exist any, between the sounds produced and the observed human
interactions. It may be true that specifc sounds ,such the ones that can
be found in contemporary urban soundscapes, can have diferent afects
in the observed human behavior and this should be examined further.
In addition to that, a potential interesting direction could be to examine
the efects that diferent type of interfaces (visual vs acoustic) have in the
interactions between humans. It is possible that an acoustic approach
could produce interesting and non-intuitive results in respect to human-
human interactions and human-technology interaction.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 178
Sound as Interface explored the possibilities that arise for social encounters
and interaction in urban spaces through the introduction of a sound
installation. Te recent advantages in digital technologies, creative
programming and physical computing ofer new ways for the construction
of novel experiences which can be embedded in our surrounding spaces.
Te installation, forced people to compromise their intimate and social
boundaries in order to interact with each other and also ofered a chance
for people to explore an augmented sonic environment. Te installation
also provided us with an insight on how people react in the stimulation of
our acoustic sense which has been neglected over time in favor of our visual
sense. Results showed that a non-visual, acoustic approach can potentially
produce very interesting results as it concerns the interaction between
people and also the interaction between people and digital technologies.
Te successful embodiment of virtual spaces as an additional layer on
top of the existing physical spaces greatly depends on the characteristics
and the properties of the latter. Te afordances of diferent spaces vary
signifcantly and it is only by an appropriate coupling of the physical with
the digital that we will be able to achieve meaningful interactions.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 179
Te authors would like to express their gratitude to Shaojun Fan and Jamie
Tompson for their contribution.
Te authors would also like to thank Ava Fatah gen. Schieck, Marilena
Skavara, Vlad Tenu and Katerina Papapavlou for their invaluable support
during the EEmTech project.
Tis project was developed as part of the Module: Embedded and Embodied
Technologies on the MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation, UCL,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 180
Briones C., Fatah gen. Schieck A., Mottram C. A 2007, A
Socializing Interactive Installation for the Urban Environments.
In IADIS Applied Computing 2007, Salamanca, Spain
Hall, E.T. 1966, Te Hidden Dimension, Anchor Books
Federman M. 2003, Te Cultural Paradox of the Global Village.
Te McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology http://www.
Alarcon Diaz X. 2007, An Interactive Sonic Environment Derived from Commuters
Memories of the Soundscape: A Case Study of the London Underground.
Leicester, United Kingdom. PhD Tesis. De Montfort University, Leicester.
Jund D. 2007, Transient Spaces: Habitat of the Outcast. Presented in Te
Teory Forum 2007, University of Shefeld, School of Architecture.
Moeller C. 2000, Audio Grove: Interactive light and sound installation,
Fatah gen Schiek A., Briones C., Mottram C. 2007, A sense of place
and pervasive computing within the urban landscape. Proceedings,
6th International Space Syntax Symposium, Istanbul.
Bringnull H., Rogers Y. 2003. Enticing People to Interact with Large
Public Displays in Public Spaces. Interact Lab, School of Cognitive
& Computing Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton.
TeFunTeory. 2009 http://www.thefuntheory.com/
Processing, http://www.processing.org/
Arduino, http://www.arduino.cc/
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 181
Sonic Activation
Spectral Architectural Memories
Eva Sjuve
Ghost Scraper
Ghost Scraper is a networked urban device on wheels, designed for new
kinds of interactions with sounds from ghosts. Interaction is tactile and
uses urban space material as source to activate spectral sounds embedded
in architectural material. Spectral sounds are weak electromagnetic signals
from ghosts transformed by Ghost Scraper into sounds, a ghost hunt
tradition started by the pioneers of wireless technologies Tomas Alva
Edison and Guglielmo Marconi in the 1920s and 1930s. Ghost scraper is
a mobile tool for new ways of audience participation, to interconnect and
engage with the urban environment, a design to explore the city beyond
normality. Audience engagement in using Ghost Scraper may lead to new
kinds of urban exploration, and new kinds of listening. Ghost Scraper
is a green tool, using solar panels to feed the units power system and is
with this limited to environments with a certain amount of sun hours.
It is running open source sofware to freely expand on and update the
apparatus capabilities.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 182
Spectral Sounds
By using Ghost Scrapers technology with microphones, the material of
urban space, as for example walls, staircases, and pavements are activated to
reveal its spectral sounds. Do the sound of ghosts, embedded in material,
leave traces as memories, or are spectral sounds always a real-time process?
Tis project fts within a larger scope of research in sonic wireless,
mobile and networked devices. Previous projects in this feld have been
AudioTagger, a sonic snapshot collector for mobile phones, to build a
sonic map on the Internet of spontaneous recordings (Sjuve 2007, 2008)
and GO, a wireless interface used for sound synthesis of electromagnetic
waves (Sjuve 2008b). Ghost Scraper, due to its focus on spectral sounds, is
speculative and playful, looking at the imaginary sonic properties in urban
space to activate its hidden auditory signals, giving an auditory face to a
place (Sjuve 2009, p.2).
Some of the pioneers in wireless transmissions, as Tomas Alva Edison and
Guglielmo Marconi worked with the development of new technologies to
fnd ways for the living to listen to ghosts. Edison developed a technology
called the Valve in early 1920s to be able to listen to ghosts, but no
record exists of his invention (Sconce 2000, A.K. 1921-1922, pp.132-
141). Edisons Valve technology picked up electromagnetic waves and
transformed them into sounds. Marconi was experimenting with new
kinds of radio technologies at the end of his life, trying to record voices of
people from beyond (Sconce 2000, p.61).
Edison and Marconi believed ghosts emitted electromagnetic waves, and
a detector could therefore discover them. With wireless technologies
a tradition of using electromagnetic detectors to discover ghosts was
introduced, and according to Sconce, with Edison and Marconi the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 183
shadow history of telecommunication started (Sconce 2000, p.83). Since
then there has been an array of techniques used in detecting and recording
ghosts, such as infrared motion detectors, television sets, particle detectors
or a Geiger meter, ion detectors to sense static electricity, or a tape recorder
connected to a radio.
Friedrich Jrgensen, a Swedish documentary flmmaker was the frst one
to discover voices from beyond one day when he recorded birds singing in
his garden in the late 1950s, using a microphone and tape recorder. Some
time later he connected the tape recorder to a radio using an unoccupied
frequency on the medium wave band. Jrgensen held a press conference
by the time he published his frst book Voices fom Space in 1964 with
researchers from the Max Planck Institute and Institute for Teoretical
Physics in Clausthal, Germany to examine and verify his fndings
( Jrgensen 1964, Smith 1977).
Another researcher working with spectral communication was
psychologist and philosopher Dr. Konstantin Raudive. In the 1970s
he built radio devices to receive voice communication from the dead as
Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) (Sconce 2000). Raudive employed
fve diferent methods to record spectral messages, techniques he called
microphone voices, diode voices, radio, and radio frequency voices,
described in Break-Trough; an Amazing Experiment in Electronic
Communication With the Dead (Raudive 1971, pp.20-27). Raudive also
describes in his book, the sound of ghosts as a fow of diferent voices in
diferent languages at a very fast speed located in our physical space (1971,
p.15). Just as Edison and Marconi, Raudive thinks the sounds of ghosts are
very subtle electromagnetic waves. Raudive writes how the sounds from
beyond become audible as he receives these subtle vibrations and create
electromagnetic felds on tape which are transformed into sound waves
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 184
and made audible (Raudive 1971, p. 24).
So, how have the recordings of Electronic Voice Phenomena been
perceived? Te EVP have been perceived as fow of speech, sometimes
engaging in a dialogue with the researcher using a tape recorder. Ghost
speech being for Jrgensen and Raudive part of a fow of electromagnetic
information, or a fux described in Deleuze and Gauttaris words, Te
process is what we call fux, and the tape machine is a system that cuts the
fuxes (Guattari 2009).
Urban Material
Urban space and its architectural material is the focus when searching
for ghost communication. Ghost Scraper is a mobile tool developed for
urban space praxis, to engage the audience in a play activity. Te audience
is engaged by following the simple instruction, to search for sounds of
ghosts. Johan Huizinga describes the function of play in his writings in
Homo Ludens; a Study of the Play Elements in Culture, where he defnes
the three main characteristics of play. Play is freedom. Play has distinct
rules. Play is set outside of ordinary life and distinct from ordinary life in
both locality and duration. Play is to step out into a temporary sphere
of activity, according to Huizinga (1950, p.8). In addition to Huizingas
characteristics of play, the engagement with Ghost Scraper activities
depends largely on the unpredictable communication by ghosts.
Lefebvre speaks in Writings on Cities about the rights people have to the
city. He describes it as a social need in urban society, outside of commercial
and cultural infrastructures, realized in the form of moments of creative
activities, the need for the unpredictable, information, play, and the use
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 185
of the imaginary (1996, p.147). Te design of Ghost Scraper allows for
an active participation of the audience, to engage in urban space in novel
ways, and play beyond normality, crossing over to the supranatural.
In the praxis of Ghost Scraper the bridging of architectural material, urban
space, interactive computational media and ghost communication leads to
an auditory output shared between the participating audiences. Tere exist
not a specifc place in the quest for spectral sounds of ghosts, but the weak
signals of ghosts have to be found by moving about in urban space. Te
mobility of Ghost Scraper allows the audience to move about in the urban
landscape and to explore the material in new ways. Te praxis of searching
for ghost sounds can be seen as a tactic rather than a strategy, according to
de Certeau in Te Practice of Everyday Life, where a tactic is determined
by the absence of power just as a strategy is organized by the postulation of
power (1988, p.38).
Measurement of resonant frequencies in material includes the use of
microphones, one of many techniques used by material engineers. Tere
are natural occurrences of sound travel between atoms in all materials.
When energy is put into a material, such as sounds from ghosts, sonic
resonance can be measured. Now, the question is if ghosts can cause these
kind of sonic vibrations in material and are they detectable?
Te city can be seen as an operating system with many ongoing processes,
social processes, information fow, commercial processes, where the
audience uses Ghost Scraper to tap into this multitude of activity.
Examining the city with Ghost Scraper, as a tool is when, the science of
the city has the city as object, Lefebvre writes, when scientifc methods
are used but analysis slips away because of the continuous actuality of the
urban (1996, p.148).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 186
Electromagnetic waves penetrate the building material of urban space, and
in fact almost anything, people, and buildings. McKenzie Wark writes
about third nature as an information layer on top of the second nature as
geographic landscape,
which appears to us as the geography of cities and roads and harbours and
wool stores is progressively overlayed with a third nature of information
fows, creating an information landscape which almost entirely covers the old
territories (1994, p.120).
If the electromagnetic waves from ghosts resonances in building material,
the second nature and third nature are more than layered, they are mixed
on atomic level. Ghost Scraper, due to its mobility can be used independent
of a specifc place. Tree Ghost Scraper devices are interconnected
through a local network. When a sound out of the ordinary is detected,
the other Ghost Scraper devices in proximity are notifed. Using networks
are experiential matters, and the act of listening is part of the process.
Te network bridges the urban material, audience participation, and
information fow beyond normality. Designing for the supranormal does
not need to be in accordance with scientifc laws, but for that of play.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 187
A.K., 1921 - 1922. Te Secret Doctrine and Mr. Edison.
Teosophical Quarterly Magazine, pp.132-141.
de Certeau, M., 1988. Te Practice of Everyday Life.
Berkeley: University of California Press.
Guattari, F., 2009. Chaosophy. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).
Huizinga, J. 1950. Homo ludens; a study of the play
elements in culture. Boston: Beacon Press.
Jrgensen, F., 1964. Rsterna frn rymden. Stockholm: Saxon & Lindstrm Frlag.
Lefebvre, H., 1996. Writings on Cities. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Raudive, K., 1971. Break-Trough; an amazing experiment in electronic
communication with the dead. New York: Lancer Books.
Sconce, J., 2000. Haunted Media: Electronic presence: from
telegraphy to television. Durham: Duke University Press.
Sjuve, E., 2007. AudioTagger: wireless phonography. [online]
Proceedings Digital Art Weeks Symposium.
Zrich: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). Available
at: <http://www.digitalartweeks.ethz.ch/docs/daw07proc/
poster-sjuve.pdf>. [Accessed September 27, 2010].
Sjuve, E., 2008. New wireless phonography in urban space: audioTagger.
In: ISEA. Te 14th International Symposium on Electronic Arts.
Singapore 25 July - 03 August 2008. Singapore: ISEA2008 Pte Ltd.
Sjuve, E., 2008b. Prototype GO: a wireless controller for Pure Data.
8th International Conference New Interfaces for Musical Expression
(NIME08). Genova 5-7 June 2008. Genova: NIME08.
Sjuve, E., Ghost Scraper: Sonic Activation on wheels. 7th Creativity and Cognition
Conference (CC09). Berkeley 27-30 October 2009. New York: ACM Press.
Smith, S., 1977. Voices of the Dead. New York: New American Library.
Wark, M., 1994. Tird nature, Cultural Studies, 8(1), pp.115-132.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 188
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 189
Intelligent Furniture for the
Architecture of Tomorrow
Matthias Weber
Develicious Studios Weber, matthias.weber@develicious.de
Sebastian Hundertmark
Bauhaus-Universitt Weimar, sebastian.hundertmark@uni-weimar.de
Ursula Damm
Bauhaus-Universitt Weimar, ursula.damm@uni-weimar.de
Observing people on a public space is a widely discussed topic in several
research felds and also in the arts. Te Fernfhler project wants to take
this one step further. Fernfhler actually integrate the place, they observe
people and react on their behavior, thereby changing the place. Tey
are an architectural component of the place, an intelligent component.
Intelligence is incorporated by using a neural network. Each Fernfhler
acts as a neuron therefore enclosing the whole place in this network.
Te observation of public spaces has been a topic in both science and the
arts for a long time. Science provides quantitative and qualitative methods
to describe pedestrian crowds and pedestrian interaction. With person
tracking and intelligent algorithms it is possible to observe the behavior
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 190
of people moving on a site. Statistic methods provide measurable data to
categorize and evaluate such behavior. In comparison, few is known about
the impact of architecture and the design of public spaces on the ambiance
of a site.
Present systems only passively observe places and pedestrians on it without
infuencing the situation. What would happen, if the space itself could
change? Taking this one step further: What if a place itself would observe
passers-by and respond to their behavior to the point of infuencing them?
Tis is the essential question behind the Fernfhler project (see Fig.
1). Te project proposes the creation of fuctuating spatial settings, to
foster the understanding of the relation between urban design and human
behavior therein. Tis paper frst outlines related work which somehow led
to the idea of Fernfhler, followed by a section on intelligent elements a
Fernfhler could be built of in general. Tis leads to the construction
of the specifc Fernfhler proposed in this work. Finally, a conclusion
summarizes the various aspects of this paper.
Figure 1: Fernfhler on a public place
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 191
Related Work
Tough there is not enough understanding of the impact of architecture on
public spaces and especially on the behavior of people, an interesting work
on architecture and public places is presented in (Rose, 2008). Additionally,
observation of pedestrians on such spaces and especially crowd behavior was
described in (Moussad, 2010). Observation is only one aspect in studying
crowd behavior. Crooks et al. (Crooks, 2007) present an agent-based
crowd simulation. Johansson et al. (Johansson, 2007) combine analyzing
peoples motion and using a crowd simulation to study evacuation scenarios,
pilgrimage, and urban environments.
Schaur (Schaur, 1992) describes the unplanned development of settlements
which shows how architecture can develop in an uncontrolled manor. An
overview of various aspects of the connection between physical spaces,
architecture and games is shown (von Borries, 2007). In contrast to Schaur
games ofen use planned architecture.
As an example for public spaces responding to pedestrian activity the
installation world lines a public art project for the Metro Station
Schadowstrasse in Dsseldorf consists of interactive, illuminated paving
stones arranged in an irregular pattern on a square above the metro station.
Te stones react on the movement of passers-by by emitting light. Tis data is
collected and processed into a generative video, extrapolating the movements
of pedestrians into the future and constructing a new, virtual image.
None of the current related work combines the principles of observing
people and crowd behavior and proposes an impact on this behavior by
means of intelligent architecture. Tis work presents an approach geared
towards such a combination. Te following section describes the necessary
elements to achieve this goal in principle.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 192
Intelligent Elements
In general, an observed place has to be furnished with sensors and
intelligent elements that react on people. Such elements could be interactive
illumination, moving barriers or exhibits that shif corresponding to the
behavior of people. Moving obstacles should have a signifcant impact on
peoples (spatial) behavior. Another category of objects that supposedly
will be highly infuential concerning the behavior of people is moving
furniture. Terefore, such types of elements are worthwhile to be
investigated or to be included in art work.
Diferent technologies could be embodied in such intelligent elements.
Tey should lack the ability to sense people, while infuencing the outlook
and the design of a place. Tose elements should be able to learn about a
location by observing pedestrians circulating on it. Also they should be able
to act on site according to what they have learned. In consequence, these
elements could become operators of a kind of learning machine. Te
setup becomes even more interesting if a place is regarded as intelligent
life form: It could function as a neural network, like a brain, responding to
peoples behavior. Te aforementioned intelligent elements would be the
sensors and actors of such a neural network. Tis is what this project is
aiming for: Te place as an entity shall learn about pedestrian behavior
and respond to it.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 193
Specific Fernfhler
Fernfhler, in their specifc occurrence, are seating options for public
spaces that can move around at will (see Fig. 2). Instead of ofering seating
in public place as permanently fxed arrangements, mobile groups of seats
are provided. Tese communicate with passers-by and each other, and
discover thereby, through experimentation, the optimal arrangement of
elements on a site.
Figure 2: Fernfhler as special chairs moving around
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 194
The Intelligent Part A Neural Network
Fernfhlers are part of a neural network which fully encloses a place.
Such a neural network can sense a site and can change it. Tis is achieved
by sensing people with each Fernfhler and by moving the Fernfhlers
according to the behavior of and the communication with the passers-by.
Fernfhlers position themselves relatively to the behavior of people,
but at the same time the design of the Fernfhlers defnes the usage of a
space. Te Fernfhlers correspond to neurons of a neural network, the
very basic element of such learning systems. An example of such a neural
network is presented in Fig. 3. It is a so-called self-organizing map (SOM)
which works as a memory of space, learning the walking behavior of
Figure 3: A Self-Organizing Map (2D and 3D variants)
Fernfhlers will be the integral part of such a SOM. A SOM is
unsupervised learning method. It can learn data without the need for a
teacher or so-called teaching input. Additionally, SOMs are winner-based
networks. Tey frst search for a winning neuron and then adapt the
network based on this winner. Te adaptation works by attracting each
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 195
neuron to a certain point in space. Te grade of attraction depends on the
distance of this point to the winner and on distance between winner and
currently adapted neuron. For this adaptation, a point in space can be the
coordinates of any person walking on the observed public space.
Such a simple adaptation process can lead to certain distractions in the
neural network. One of the most common problems is that all neurons
could be attracted to only one point that does not move. All neurons would
end up on one point and can not be separated any more. To overcome
this problem the learning process has to be changed accordingly. Te
velocity of passers-by could be integrated. Certain behavior like looking
at a Fernfhler or shouting at one might lead to the opposite learning
behavior, i.e. being pushed away from the persons position. Conversely,
whispering and not looking at the Fernfhler could be interesting for
it so it will be strongly attracted to this position. And last but not least,
touching a Fernfhler just stops adaptation.
Additional Interaction
If simply watching the automatically operating seats is perceived as too
contemplative, Fernfhler ofers the possibility of interacting with
the intelligent furniture by means of a smart phone. Afer the necessary
sofware has been downloaded and installed via a wireless connection a
game-like interface ofers the opportunity to activate and control the
Fernfhlers. Te screen will show a network structure with dots at each
node (see Fig. 4). Each Fernfhler in the area represents one of the nodes
of this network. Te network connects each Fernfhler, acting as a skin
overlaying the area.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 196
One of the ideas behind the installation is to make public space more
attractive, especially for young people. By providing networked seating,
they experience an area as a changing space, one that has moved beyond
stable architecture. People can also take the role of a director, infuencing
the behavior of passers-by through re-arranging the positions of the
furniture. Te setup can be operated via hand held computers or through
a central screen.
Te experience resembles a computer game, though it takes immediate
efect on the surrounding physical space, and thru that on the people on
Figure 4: Smartphone interface
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 197
Hardware Prototypes
S everal hardware prototypes have been developed for the Fernfhlers.
First prototypes were built out of alloy (see Fig. 5). Tey are able to extend
a backrest and can sense people sitting on them. Originally, they were built
with dwell motors. Unfortunately, these motors were found to be much
too inaccurate. Tis prototype has LEDs to show its status. Finally it is a
seat so a sensor for people sitting on it is also integrated.
Figure 5 : First prototypes of the Fernfhler
Te current prototype is built on a wooden platform which is incorporated
in small library steps which somehow have the shape of a stool. Te notion
is still that they shall be intelligent seats moving around a public space. Tis
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 198
platform could also be integrated into other furniture, like normal seats.
Te electronic parts of this prototype are shown in Fig. 6 and are described
in the following:
2 step motors with their respective motor controls, for going in all
an Arduino board which is the main computing device of a Fernfhler,
a microphone, for hearing people and communication between
a camera to sense people and other Fernfhler which is an open-
source embedded camera module with an ARM7 processor capable
of computing diverse image processing algorithms (see http://www.
cmucam.org for more information).
Figure 6 : Te current Fernfhler prototype
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 199
Tis work presents an approach towards observing pedestrians on a public
site, learning their walking behavior and reacting on it. Tis reaction
can happen as any type of architectural changes of the place. To achieve
this intelligent elements have to be incorporated into a place. For the
Fernfhler this means that there will be chairs that follow pedestrians in
a certain way, they hear and see what people do and react on their behavior
by presenting themselves as seating at interesting locations of the site.
Learning takes place by integrating a neural network into the Fernfhler
where each Fernfhler is one neuron of the network. It should have self-
organizing capabilities like a SOM. To make it more interesting for visitors
a smartphone can be used to display and interact with the neural network
directly. Altogether, this creates a system that is capable of simultaneously
observing and infuencing a public space.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 200
von Borries, F., Walz, S. P., Bttger, M. (Eds.): Space Time Play Computer
Games, Architecture and Urbanism: Te Next Level. Birkhuser, 2007.
Crooks, A., Castle, C., Batty, M.: Key Challenges in Agent-
Based Modeling for Geo-Spatial Simulation. In Proceedings of
GeoComputation 2007, September 2007, NUI Maynooth, Ireland.
Johansson, A., Helbing, D., Shukla, P. K.: Specifcation of the Social Force
Pedestrian Model by Evolutionary Adjustment to Video Tracking Data.
Advances in Complex Systems, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2007, pp. 271288.
Moussad, M., Perozo, N., Garnier, S., Helbing, D., Teraulaz, G.:
Te Walking Behaviour of Pedestrian Social Groups and Its Impact
on Crowd Dynamics. PLoS One, Vol. 5, No. 4, 2010.
Rose, A., Schwander, C., Czerkauer, C., Davidel, R.: Space Matters, ARCH+ 189, 2008.
Schaur, E.: Ungeplante Siedlungen / Non-planned Settlements, Charakteristische
Merkmale, Wegesystem, Flchenteilung. Universitt Stuttgart, Institut
fr Leichte Flchentragwerke -IL-. Krmer, Stuttgart, 1992.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 201
Large Screens and Small Screens:
Public and Private Engagement
with Urban Projections
Geofrey Shea
Associate Professor
Ontario College of Art & Design University
Michael Longford
Associate Professor
York University

Urban screens, including large public displays have the potential to
dramatically alter our built environment. Moving images, animated
text and video are increasingly prevalent on elevators, train platforms
and roadside billboards. Moreover, the ability to interact with these
screens played out in Hollywood flms such as Minority Report is quickly
becoming a reality with the incorporation of Bluetooth, RFID, GPS
and gesture based inputs enabled accelerometers built into the current
generation of handheld devices that include remotes for gaming, smart
phones, and tablets. However, the exploration of urban screens as a site
for more complex forms of social interaction continues to be concern
primarily for artists and critical designers and fuels discussions at events
such as the Media Facades Festival, Urban Screens, Future Everything, and
this conference.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 202
Although the feld of inquiry is broad, in this paper we will focus on one
specifc emerging trend the co-existence of large public shared screens,
and small private personal screens, and how the two are increasingly able
to interact. Our refections are based on our experiences co-developing
an multiuser interactive experience for installation in public spaces called
Tentacles is both a large, responsive projection environment
that displays avatars in a shared space, and a unique application for the
Apple iPhone/iPod touch that turns the device into a remote controller.
Together, these two features of Tentacles enable individual viewers, players
or passersby to participate in a multi-user, location-based, game-like
experience projected into public spaces. Tentacles has been presented in
urban environments, indoors and out, projected onto walls, and giant
outdoor screens on the sides of buildings. Players are immersed in an inky
pool of darkness found deep near the ocean foor and interact with one
another Each by controlling a squid-like life form while in search of life-
sustaining micro-organisms.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 203
Play & Interaction
One of our objectives for Tentacles was to create an ambient play
environment in a public space something without a beginning or an end
that participants could join and leave spontaneously. By public space
we are referring to a locale where many, otherwise unrelated individuals
are able to view and interact with a common moving image. A gallery
faade on a city street, screens at flm festival party, the sides of buildings or
large-scale screens and public display boards found city squares are possible
locations for Tentacles. But in each case, it is important that the viewer/
player be aware that he or she was sharing the experience of viewing with
others, ofen in the context of a crowd. Tis locativity or specifcity of
location ensures that there is a parallel social metaphor. Te life forms
on the screen participate in a play of interaction or avoidance, which could
be mirrored by the life forms standing in the street. Tis public being
and public action, which operates on diferent levels, but in immediate
proximity to one another is a base requirement of the Tentacles experience.
Although Tentacles shares some features with games, we didnt want it to
look or act like standard console based games and in this initial iteration
weve tried to avoid standard gaming conventions. Tere are no levels,
no overt objectives, no winners or losers. We approached the interaction
design by spending time looking at old high school biology flms of the
blood stream and circulation systems and then we turned our attention
to the micro-organisms and other creatures living in perpetual darkness
at the bottom of the ocean. Te movement and behaviours exhibited
by these creatures served as a spring-board for discussions about what
kinds of behaviours and interactions we could adopt in building a shared
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 204
Fig. 1: Tentacles installation. Nuit Blanche, Toronto, 2009.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 205
Our hope was, through interaction, the experience would inspire a kind
of spontaneous public performance. Operating from within the crowd,
viewers (or players) had the opportunity to step onto the stage of the
projected environment to display themselves in action, engaged with
other virtual creatures. Text messages within the system, for example, are
not sent to each others private, small screen view, but rather are posted
to your public, large screen self. Similarly, the way that movements,
gestures and displays become part of this spontaneous public performance
is suggestive of the activity on a dance foor, where typical rules about
decorum, reservation, engagement with strangers and physical contact
are suspended. A private, gestural experience is amplifed publicly as a
by-product of being within a crowd, as opposed to being a self-conscious
performance staged for the beneft of the viewer. Here, in Tentacles, the
diferentiation between viewer and participant is efaced.
Play is presented as a free-form, creative activity a childlike enthrallment
with exploration, skill-learning and sharing. Games, or rule-based play,
emerge later in life and becomes the standard in the adult world. Tis
dichotomy between structured and unstructured play is further explored in
other mobile phone controlled presentations, such as PLAY: Te Hertzian
by one of the authors. Tere the metaphor is continued by
overlaying the additional concept of playing music to further highlight the
creative potential of large screen / small screen experiences.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 206
Fig. 2: Tentacles iPhone interface & projection.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 207
Field & Figure
Another way to consider the relationship within the large screen / small
screen experience is to consider the large screen the feld (background or
environment) and the many small screens the fgures (agents or citizens).
Tis metaphor is not perfect, since the players avatars are displayed on
the large screen as they are being controlled from the small screens. While
the small screen does aford an alternate view of the players engagement
with the environment, it is more like a dashboard or a cockpit. Te private
interface view includes steering and speed and controls for displaying
messages on the large screen.
But the feld and fgure metaphor comes to life with the structure of the
accompanying musical score. In addition to the visuals, we also built sound
components including a background soundtrack that plays in conjunction
with the large screen augmented by a library of smaller musical elements,
which play asynchronously on the small screens. Your device springs to
life, emitting sounds which complement or run counter to the musical
soundscape, calling to and enveloping passersby and proliferating as more
people participate in the game.
At this point players and non-players become acutely aware that the
creatures on the large screen represent participants who are in the crowd
all around them. Te multiple sound sources, like the multiple participants
holding onto their small devices, combine to form one single social entity,
which is only partially revealed on the large screen in front of them.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 208
The Experience
Tentacles transforms the phone into a kind of remote control that allows
you to interact in real time with primitive, hybridized creatures, whose
bodies are created from a library of ink blobs, organized in ways that
mirror each other not unlike a Rorschach test. Together they reveal
layered references to the organic, the analogue and the digital.
In terms of the user experience, people are immediately engaged by our
sense of wonder at the magic of radio waves enabling us to interact in
real time from a personal handheld device with a public projection in an
architectural space. Te interplay of scale the small screen in the palm
of your hand contrasted with the large public screen on the facade of a
building parallels other core human experiences. Te intimacy of touch,
for example, is threatened by the supremacy of projected, broadcast visual
stimuli, while the screen the sign forms a kind of text waiting to be
read. Your personal space simultaneously shrinks and expands as the tiny
gestures you make with your fngers are magnifed for all to see. Public and
private stand in stark contrast, highlighting dichotomies like wireless and
wired, perception and cognition, knowing and being.
In this way, the sharing of space on the large screen and the non-sharing
of the small screen immediately throws us into a consideration of identity.
On one hand our creatures are an element in a world, a member of a
community. Tey participate in an accelerated life cycle born with
the click of a button, they glide through a fuid environment, eating,
occasionally entangling with the other creatures around, by accident or
design. With another click of a button, they expire and explode into
hundreds of tiny particles, ready-made food for those around them. On
the other hand, their individual identity is rooted outside of the large
screen environment, steered and directed by an invisible other.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 209
Why iPhone/iPod Touch?
Te larger screen, the easy-to-use touch screen interface employing a
variety of gestures, the sofware developer kit that included a combination
of drag & drop GUIs, templates, and code prompts to help you learn how
to develop applications for the phone were all key motivators for adoption
for the adoption of the iPhone / iPod Touch. But by far the biggest
incentive was the creation of the App Store, which allowed us to leap over
the mobile service providers and telecommunication companies gaining
direct access to audiences. One of the biggest hurdles we faced in previous
projects was the inaccessibility and lack of distribution networks for the
applications we created. Prior to the App Store we needed to partner with
service provider who, in Canada at least, showed little appetite for content
creation, production, or distribution produced by small independents.

Particularly, content that was in part born out of an artistic, cultural or
research context. At the same time, however, we recognize the App Store
is also a proprietary network over which Apple exercises complete control,
which raises issues related to corporate control, US government regulatory
policies, and concerns regarding censorship and surveillance.
Te use of a single, large-screen display for a shared, real-time, social activity
has presented numerous technological and social research opportunities.
For example, a contrast has emerged between typical online anonymity
and on-site engagement with other participants. Also, the reliance on a
specifc mobile phone platform (iPhone / iPod touch) and their attendant
data service plans or network requirements has necessitated specifc
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 210
presentation strategies such as providing devices to would-be players, and
implementing free Wi-Fi in the immediate area.
In creating Tentacles the researchers chose to divide the interactive
experience between what was shared publicly on a large projection screen
and what was revealed solely to each participant on their own device
screen: public and private expressions emerging simultaneously within
any given individual in a shared environment. Our experience with this
strategy suggests that large screen / small screen interactions, mirroring
public / private interactions, will play an increasingly important role in
urban, media experiences, and that the built, architectural environment
will need to refect this and incorporate the potential of this emerging
1 Tentacles is an ongoing project co-developed by Michael Longford (Mobile Media
Lab, York University), Rob King (Additv), Geofrey Shea (Mobile Experience Lab,
Ontario College of Art & Design). Initial funding for Tentacles was provided by
the Consortium on New Media, Creative, and Entertainment R&D in the Toronto
Region (CONCERT), support from the Ontario Media Development Corporation,
and with the participation of Apple Canada. (http://www.tentacles.ca)
2 Play: Te Hertzian Collective is a sound and video installation controlled by viewers
through their mobile phones. A rich collage of naturally occurring visual rhythms
and a spoken text explore schoolyard games: the structured and unstructured play
invented by children during the loss of innocence that accompanies growing up.
3 In contrast to this, over the past ten years telecommunication giants
in Canada such as Bell Globemedia, now CTVglobemedia and Rogers
Media Inc. have been purchasing radio and television assets and have
recently begun to roll out mobile products and services.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 211
Creativity, Knowledge, Engagement:
Keys to Finding the Right
Governance Model
for a Regional Community Precinct
Kirralie Houghton
Marcus Foth
Greg Hearn
Urban Informatics Research Lab
Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane, Australia
Tis paper investigates the Cooroy Mill community precinct (Sunshine
Coast, Queensland), as a case study, seeking to understand the way local
dynamics interplay and work with the community strengths to build a
governance model of best ft. As we move to an age of ubiquitous computing
and creative economies, the defnition of public place and its governance
take on new dimensions, which while ofen utilizing models of the past
will need to acknowledge and change to the direction of the future. Tis
paper considers a newly developed community precinct that has been
built on three key principles: to foster creative expression with new media,
to establish a knowledge economy in a regional area, and to subscribe
to principles of community engagement. Te study involved qualitative
interviews with key stakeholders and a review of common practice models
of governance along a spectrum from community control to state control.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 212
Te paper concludes with a call for governance structures that are locally
situated and tailored, inclusive, engaging, dynamic and fexible in order
to build community capacity, encourage creativity, and build knowledge
economies within emerging digital media cityscapes.
Our study site in regional Queensland is a newly developed community
precinct. Te project aspires to best practice in environmental, building,
and landscape design, by implementing master plan guidelines and
strategies that foster creativity, knowledge, and engagement as the
three core principles of the development. Tese three aspects align with
the three main elements of the precinct: Te heritage listed and now
refurbished Timber Mill with boiler and kilns; an old factory that is now
a multi-arts and interactive media facility; and the newly built library
building completed in 2010 featuring state of the art network and media
Te Board was established by the local community and the local
government in late 2004, to advise on the management, planning and
development of the site. Tis group has been responsible for creating the
strategic vision and implementing the master plan. As the construction of
the site is being completed, the Board is looking for best practice models
for the continuing governance of this new interactive precinct, and for
ways to ensure the local community is engaged not just in decision making
but also in ongoing activities enabled by the new media facilities. As the
Board considers the issues associated with the ongoing management
of this connected place, our paper explores the process of developing
a suitable governance structure for the management of the interactive
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 213
media and local community spaces. Te site calls for a consideration of
community engagement opportunities aforded by social technology,
digital augmentation and locative media, that this paper will discuss with a
view to allow for future re-interpretations and re-inventions of the site and
its technical facilities by local residents, even afer the construction process
itself has been completed.
Afer reviewing models of place governance and community capacity, the
paper frst describes the site and its actors or stakeholders, particularly
the advocates and champions who drive the community and make things
happen in creative and innovative ways. Tese are the socio-cultural
animators (Foth 2006) who interact with local groups such as students
from high school, the wood workers club, community services, the library,
business people, and members of the local government.
Secondly, analysis of interviews with these socio-cultural animators then
informs our discussion of a community engagement model that moves
through a cycle from decision making and active use to refective feedback.
Trough this cycle, community capacity is being built to develop a resilient,
capable, informed, and self assured community. Tree key factors were
identifed as crucial values in this model, and as such also for the precincts
development and its ability to collaboratively envision its future direction.
Tey are: creativity, knowledge, and engagement. Terefore, they represent
the cornerstones of the governance structure for the site.
Tirdly, in order to determine the most suitable model of governance, the
components of three models are compared in light of their best ft with the
needs of our study site. Te frst is the Advisory Committee Model, where
local government takes on the role of management with a community
advisory committee providing the strategic direction for programming
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 214
and development. Te second is the Not-for-proft Private management
Company with a board of directors as successfully implemented for
Bryant Park, New York, USA. Tird, we review the Ambassador Program
as used in Denver, Colorado. Our comparison evaluates these basic
models against their compatibility with the sites aspirations to innovatively
employ social technology, digital augmentation and locative media for
community engagement. A question/answer flter system was used to
shape a model that refects best practise in open governance, and suits the
needs of the local community. Further, it is expected that over time the use
and management of the space will evolve in a dynamic way and according
to the lived experience of local residents, which the governance structure
has to account for.
Tus our paper presents a working model of place governance that
promotes community engagement in the management of interactive
media and public spaces and ultimately, in the development of vibrant
connected places.
Literature Review
Governance of place
It is said that about eighty percent of the success of any public space can
be attributed to its management and no matter how good the design of
a space is it will never become a true place unless it is cared for well (Kent
Getting the management and governance of a place right is a vital element
therefore in determining the success of any place and as relevant for
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 215
innovative and creative precincts as a grocery market. Te key being an
open engagement with the community who will animate and activate the
space which Kent & Schwartz call the incremental steps that incorporate
feedback and accommodate unexpected energies and opportunities
(Kent & Schwartz 2001, 10).
OToole and Burdess (2004) highlight the two aspects to governance being;
governance as structure and governance as process. Where governance as
structure is an organizational or institutional arrangement of actors and
governance as process where there are a myriad of processes which defne
how governance occurs. OToole and Burdess point to a vital question and
one that weighs heavily in this discussion can it be assumed that if the
organizational structure is right that it will be a solid governance model,
or as the opponents of such a thought suggest: is governance actually the
dynamic outcome of social and political actors and therefore a dynamic
need to be addressed (OToole and Burdess 2004).
Tis consideration of the governance function will consider the totality
of interactions, in which public as well as private actors participate
(Kooiman 2003). Trough this process of governance a focus on creating
societal opportunities is sought attending to the institutions as contexts
for these governing interactions; and establishing a normative foundation
for all those activities (Kooiman 2003).
Taking Kooimans perspective that governance can be seen as the totality
of theoretical conceptions of governing, (Kooiman 2003) this paper
explores the relationship between the actors within the community
who provide opportunity, leadership, innovation and ownership to the
question of local governance of the Lower Mill site, Cooroy as a case study
of innovative, creative, knowledge precincts.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 216
Both governance as structure and governance as process should be
considered in this modeling process.
Tere are four key qualities which Kent and Schwarts ascribe to good
places, and the vision of how these qualities come together to create a place
are relevant to the construction of a governance model which looks at the
longevity, function, capacity and appropriateness of the vision. Tese four
key qualities are accessibility, activities, comfort and sociability (Kent &
Schwarts 2001).
Te actors or stakeholders who play leading roles (as well as the minor
roles to some extent) have a part in developing collective ownership and
interplay between each other to animate the space and to develop it as it
evolves into a place with local, community meaning. From the outset these
relationships should be acknowledged. Kooiman (2003) suggests, in the
governance perspective it is assumed that governing interactions also have
to be refected in its conceptualization (p3).
As Kooiman goes on to discuss there are a range of governing eforts or
actions that involve diverse actors, such as government, business, creatives
and community, and there is an interplay of actions and roles on several
diferent levels. Te process of governing and the issues around governance
can involve both public and private entities they are frequently shared and
governing over various societal actors whose relationships with each other
are constantly changing.
Te role of traditional government can be seen to shif to a role of facilitator
and as co-operating partner (Kooiman 2003, 2). Tis shif is inline with
trends to see more open and accountable government, enhanced by our
ready access to information in the form of new media that creates an
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 217
expectation that information is always available. It directs government into
a role of managing interactions and interplays that are required to allow
creation, innovation and inspirational places to evolve, within the process
treating the governing actors on an equal basis. Management structure
needs to be capable of exerting formalized and authoritative infuence in
order to retain functionality and implement decisions.
Te governance approach focuses on the interactions taking place
between the governing actors within social-political situations. Tese
interactions give human actions their irreversible and unpredictable
character as attempts are made toward understanding diversity, complexity
and dynamics of these situations. (Kooiman 2003, 7).
A model is proposed that identifes components of social capital such as
trust, commitment and identity, associationalism, civic participation and
collaborative problem-solving. Tese concepts are then theoretically linked
to efective governance (Veenstra and Lomas 1999).
Community capacity
Te ability of a community to respond to problems and, indeed, to take
advantage of government policies and resources is termed its community
capacity. Te attainment of a level of community capacity is mediated or
constrained by conditioning. (Armstrong,Francis and Totikidis 2004, 3).
Of particular relevance to the creative precinct of the Cooroy Mill Site
is the structure of opportunity and the density of acquaintance along
with the distribution of resources, that is, the means or strategies to
enhance or maintain capacity are the central concerns in the development
of a suitable governance model.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 218
Resources alone are not the only measure of success or the determining
factor, nor do they necessarily mean a higher level of community capacity
or social capital. It is as Armstrong et. al. (2004) point out a combination
of factors being the resources, networks and characteristics of the place
and its networks of actors, along with the dynamics that is the bonding,
bridging and relationships between these actors or interplay between them
which determine outcomes. Tese outcomes can be positive or negative
and may build community and add to cohesion and productivity or where
there is a lack of bridging they may have a negative impact and breakdown
community capacity (Armstrong,Francis and Totikidis 2004, 4).
It was noted that the most efective committees were chaired by someone
who was a champion gathering resources from their council, generating
a lot of enthusiasm from members and chairing committees which were
active, met regularly and felt a sense of achievement (Armstrong,Francis
and Totikidis 2004, 4). A champion may also be in take the role of
coordinator or curator who drives activates and energises the space, drawing
the community and stakeholders with them in the use and attachment to
the place.
Cavaye has an interesting refection on a community approach to
governance which he calls Engagement governance. He sees it as a new
way of looking as our assumptions, the structures and culture about how we
frame or construct the work of government, saying Te central perception
is the view of government not as a provider, but as an enabler of vibrant
communities. In that regard, community engagement has the potential
not to challenge government, but to enhance it (Cavaye 2004).
Tis shifed view is much more about a partnership and shared ownership
than a dismissal of one or the other as irrelevant or not involved. If this
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 219
approach were to be plotted on Arnsteins (1969) Ladder of participation
(see Figure 1), it is reaching for a degree of citizen power, partnership,
delegated power or possibly even citizen control at the highest level. With
citizen power comes a sense of involvement, engagement and ownership.
Figure 1: Arnsteins Ladder is Citizen Participation
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 220
Context and Setting of the Case Study Site
Careful planning, creative design and community engagement from
the outset combine to create an innovative mix of heritage, community
facilities and interactive digital media in the burgeoning creative precinct
of the Lower Mill Site on the Sunshine Coast in a small township of
Cooroy. Te development of the former Timber Mill and surroundings
aspires to best practise in environmental, building, and landscape
design, by implementing master plan guidelines and strategies that foster
creativity, knowledge, and engagement as the three core principles of the
Te project has brought together a diverse set of stakeholders including
the Mill Site Board (a local community group formed to preserve the Mill
site as a community asset and heritage legacy), Queensland University
of Technology, Sunshine Coast Regional Council, and Arts Queensland
through funding administered by the Queensland Writers Centre.
Engagement has included a wide range of the community with local
school students participating in design exercises in Second Life (Mallan
et al. 2010; Foth et al. 2009), digital heritage narratives recorded from
former mill workers (Wiesner et al. 2009), and local artists working with
the community.
Te case study is the Lower Mill Site in Cooroy, located on the Sunshine
Coast Hinterland, Queensland, Australia. It was developed as a project
in conjunction with the Regional Council (the local government), a
partner in the grant that supports this study. Te Regional Council is in
the process of redeveloping the Lower Mill Site that was formerly used
as a timber mill. Te vision for the new site is to develop and sustain
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 221
facilities [...] for present and future generations of the community with
balanced consideration to history, culture, education, arts and economics
(http://lowermillsite.com.au). Te site is now well developed and the
master plan has seen the development of a new library building, as well as
the renovation of heritage-listed buildings that formed part of the timber
mill precinct (Fig. 2, 3, 4). Te building of a former butter factory, now
redesigned as a performing arts centre, is located within close proximity
and is incorporated into the precinct. Te Lower Mill Site will eventually
house many community groups and has two heritage listed buildings
from the original sawmill as its centrepiece.
Figure 2: Restored Kilns and Woodworkers Cottage. Source: mysunshinecoast.com
Te Mill Board was established by a group of local business and community
members who saw that the former mill site represented an important
opportunity for socio-cultural and economic development for the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 222
community and that the site should be retained in community ownership
for the support of the community and as a hub of the local region. With a
well established arts centre in the refurbished Butter Factory adjoining the
site it lent itself to a creative arts precinct. Te local government authority
and Mill Board both explored potential uses for the site, being particularly
keen that the principles of a development informed by the pursuit of
creativity, innovation and knowledge be employed.
Refer Detail Area 1

Supplement existing vegetation with
native riparian tree planting
Figure 3: Cooroy Library Figure 4: Lower Mill Site Masterplan
Te Council was interested in exploring new ways to engage diverse and
traditionally under-represented sections of the local community, such as
young people. Research projects at the site have included involvement of
young people from the local school becoming involved with the design and
planning of the site and their engagement with other local stakeholders of
the site to share the heritage and future of the site (Mallan and Greenaway
In addition to the engagement activities at the local high school, the local
government authority also established an initiative to employ specifcally
selected artists-in-residence (called Neos) to foster community, culture
and commerce the 3C Model, (McQueenie, 2005). Te objectives were
to develop local content in various forms and with various applications with
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 223
a focus on local stories, education and writing in the digital environment; to
innovate in the uses of community spaces and take advantage of the media
and community engagement facilities of the Lower Mill Site; and to assist
in the development of socially engaged creative businesses and jobs in the
creative industries by employing local and national creative professionals
from across the disciplines of writing, new media, and community cultural
development. Tis initiative, called Neo-Geography, was to pilot and
evaluate the 3C model as a way to strategically link communities, creativity
and economic development in a non-metropolitan area of Australia.
Te Neos work on locally designed community projects based on digital
or locative media, narrative and writing. Each Neo will defne and generate
a project which engages schools, community groups, local government
programs or a range of other creative professionals. Te specifcs of each
project will be locally determined by the Neos and project partners. Te
Neos have been based at the library and work with local community groups
of the Sunshine Coast. While their projects have sought creative ways
to engage with community and activate a sense of place, there is another
key aspect of their involvement that revolves around a fundamental new
understanding of the Arts and that is the issue of entrepreneurship in the
creative industries. As such, this initiative seeks to redefne the relationship
between community, culture and commerce in a regional context.
Voices of the Socio-cultural Animators
Te precinct and the projects that have been enacted within the space
involve a variety of socio-cultural animators (Foth 2006) who interact with
local groups such as students from high school, the wood workers club,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 224
community services, the library, business people, and members of the local
government. Tere have been several animators working with diferent
groups within the community and our study undertook to interview
several of these hands-on creative practitioners about how they see the
management of the precinct evolving and how those governance structures
serve to activate the place and engage the local community. Tese voices
make visible the sof infrastructure of the precinct which is just as relevant
as the buildings and digital media infrastructure in understanding how the
precinct is evolving.
Strong themes about the accessibility, cost versus community and curation
of the site emerged. Also issues such as the energy and personality of the
appointed manager at any point in time took a more prominent focus than
which entity government or private was in control. Tis concentration
of the process rather than structure was consistent amongst the Neos
working in the precinct.
the whole precinct should have an artistical [sic] creative director I would
but an overall director for the whole precinct that didnt have a single
agenda for visual arts or music performance but was across the spectrum...
as far as delivering a creative program for the precinct.
Te dynamic of the curator or manager was identifed as vital for a centres
vibrancy beyond the facilities or funding. It was noted that there had been
an earlier curator for the Butter Factory art space who had been able to do
wonderful things.
were you there when Rosemary was there? Wasnt she great! we used to
go out in the middle of the night, no the middle of winter for concerts and
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 225
things, and there were no facilities whatsoever and now its all ofces and
bookings and I dont know its just not a vibrant place
Another element of the prior success of the Butter factory was the
community involvement and ownership. Te next quote also identifes
another issue for the governance and management process that is the
values of being community driven and that the loss of burn-out:
people in that community ran the space, and it had lots of problems
because it never had any funding and people got burnt out, but it always
was a really creative space, it was a place where artists met, where artists
were involved, and where lots of creative things happened
Te potential for media technology precincts like Cooroy to be a hub for
the community and an opportunity for youth and community to access
technology in new and exciting ways was noted by respondents along with
the dangers of limiting accessibility or letting dollar determinants exclude
those least able to pay. One respondent observed:
thats obviously the biggest issue for managing a venue like that in a
regional area.. is that accessibility factor especially young people who
have.. great opportunity to get in there and use this equipment but it gets
booked out by all these other people.
Tere was a general sense amongst respondents that the overall project as it
had been developed and implemented so far was positive.
Its been great for Cooroy and I do see a lot of positives things in the
library. I know I am critical of the design it could have been done much
better, but, uhm for that small community to have a fabulous library like
that, the library has been wonderful a lot more people reading books a lot
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 226
more kids being there in the afernoon, kids just come there because they
want to play games on the computer
Te attraction of technology for young people was also a common theme
and supported by respondents. Te sites ability to attract and provide for
young people was seen as its strength and part of the value that it adds to
the community. Also more generally the value to a wider community was
strongly espoused along with the potential for the precinct to be a place for
community and youth.
I would like to see it as more of a community space where youth groups
could accessibly go and do performances and workshops there
Te potential of the site and the new spaces created within in it was
commonly articulated in a very optimistic light:
it is heading in the right direction it will be interesting to see where it goes
in the next couple of years
Te space itself is a example of what I would like to see on the Sunshine
coast, which is more buildings like that which are open to the community.
I think it is a prime example of what we want, and I just love it.
Governance Models
Te traditional method of managing community spaces in Australia has
been within a local government structure, utilising an advisory committee
model. Tis structure would involve a committee consisting of community
representatives of the identifed stakeholders or actors. Te level of
involvement in the day-to-day management varies depending on the level
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 227
of authority or delegation that the Council afords the group. Te advisory
board sends recommendations back to council for authoritative decisions
to be made and maintenance costing and management is handled within
the Council business. It is interesting to note that the J Arts Precinct, a
local government run facility within the same region as Cooroy, was seen
to have allowed the pressures of fnancial returns and measures of return
for money drive the management and programming of the site.
Te second model is the not-for-proft private management company
model. Tis model has been very successfully implemented in Bryant Park,
New York. It see the development of a company which is accountable to
all aspects of maintenance and programming of the park and its activities.
But using this model the concerns of daily management including raising
funds falls to the corporation. Te viability of the space will depend
to some degree on the entrepreneurial abilities of the members of the
board and their connections. Tis push into the competitive sphere of
economic returns is not necessarily a negative but must be weighed in light
of the concerns raised by respondents about the loss of the community
accessibility in the pursuit of economic viability. Creating opportunities
for the inexperienced artist or sound engineer or other creative taking
the initiative to use the space carries a risk factor higher than the well
established experienced performer, but encouraging that talent, can stretch
boundaries of creativity and push innovation in new directions. Te risk
with the not-for-proft model is that fnancial pressures could result in
Te Ambassador model is another governance model for community
space that is used in Denver, Colorado. Te ambassador program is
managed under the Te Downtown Denver Partnership, Inc. that
defnes itself as a non-proft business organization that creatively plans,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 228
manages and develops Downtown Denver as the unique, diverse, vibrant
and economically healthy urban core of the Rocky Mountain region
structured in a similar way to a main street program or local business people
collectively form a community organisation to develop or encourage a
collective support their local community and economy. Te ambassador
program is a sub-program or falls under the umbrella of the Downtown
Partnership as a community feedback committee.
Te following matrix provides a means of displaying the values and
strategic objectives for a project and weighing them against the potential
models for comparison.
Strategic Objectives Council -Management under Community
Ambassador Program: supported
Not-for-Profit Model: self managed
Involvement in
Limited to identified stakeholders
additional measure required if further
community involvement is required
Ambassadors see there role as
connecting with the community and
feeding back community needs to council
or not-for profit organisation - mediators
Community Run community
empowered. Need to ensure it is not
hijacked by vested interests
Feedback mechanism Formally through council letters,
councillors, community representative,
addressing meetings
Via ambassadors, to committee, To company, through formalised
feedback channel, through
membership of NFP
Community access
and ownership
Councils/ Local Governments often seen
as disconnected to community. Would
need to actively work at building
community connection and ownership
Sense of link to space and ambassadors
actively trying to build connection and
Highest level of community
ownership opportunity to buy in
and support
Community Energy
personality to take on
the role
Need to seek right person energy within
Council framework, no community control
on selection or direction of Council staff
Group of people can support and energise
each other
Need to seek right person in a project
management, capacity. There is
scope to build a team with energy
and commitment
High medium Low
Financial returns Need to see financial returns and value for
money needs a measure to report back to
Role as a community facility clearly
established financial viability and
accountability still relevant
Seek sponsorship and support,
financial viability of activities. Push to
creative entrepreneurial and financial
Further development
of & Commitment to
Depends on Council commitment subject
to change with re-election
Can be built into ambassador structure Can be strongly supported as focus,
will depend on which parties for the
Identity of the site
Would need to consciously develop
branding, specific to site and separate to
council especially given the large
regional nature of council
Ambassadors can be part of the branding
process. Strong word of mouth
Strong emphasis put on Branding
and specific unique identity
Activity at the site Programmed and managed within Council Ambassadors seek out community input
for programming
Constant need for activity to justify
company and its relevance

Table 1: Evaluation Matrix
More questions could be added to this matrix and it should closely
identify the aims, visions, objectives or goals of the space to be governed.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 229
Stakeholders and community should have a lead role in assessment of the
matrix outcomes and weighting of the comparative boxes. Te end result
may be to hybridise or massage one model to the best ft for the particular
Cooroy Mill Board have chose incorporate their Mill Board and utlising
the energy and commitment to the site that this group frst initiated to
direct the future of the site. Te Council has been a major support in this
process and while there are council ofcers on the incorporating board
it is also strongly represented by many diferent stakeholders within the
community. Te drive to see this site connecting with the community of
Cooroy and moving it into an exciting future is prominent within the
there is just the last block lef, we want to see some knowledge based
development there a partnership with a uni would be great
By incorporating and working as a not-for-proft group, they are able to
generate funding and activities to ensure that the vision of the place is
maintained as well as its economical sustainability.
Te community has grown up, the community has gotten bigger, the
community has grown up (study respondent).
Communities do change and the needs and requirements of a place will
also change, in the age of digital, ubiquitous computing some of these
changes are occurring at an dizzying velocity (McQuire 2008 p.3).
But some fundamental elements of good communities and good places
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 230
remain the same. Building community capacity to support itself, to
encourage creativity, innovation and build knowledge, still remains a vital
component of an engaged and healthy community. It can be seen however
that whichever model of governance a community chooses the role of
governance as process and governance as structure should be taken into
account. Governance should also be open to engage and communicate
with community, not always in terms of structure but certainly in terms of
the process. Tere are new and creative ways that new media are being used
or could be used that provide a means opening up discussion and engaging
underrepresented or disinclined community groups but that is an area for
further research not within the scope of this work.
Further it is expected that over time the use and management of the space
will further evolve in a dynamic way and according to lived experience,
which the governance structure has to account for. Whichever governance
model is suited as a best ft needs to incorporate a system of review and
fexibility to take on these opportunities and embrace their potential.
Tis research is supported under the Australian Research Councils
Linkage Projects funding scheme (project number LP0882274). Associate
Professor Marcus Foth is the recipient of a Smart Futures Fellowship
supported by the Queensland State Government and National ICT
Australia. Te authors would like to thank the study participants and our
partner organisations: the Regional Council, the Queensland Writers
Centre, the local high school and the members of the Lower Mill Site
Board, for supporting this research project, as well as the Media City 2010
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 231
conference committee and the anonymous reviewers for valuable comments
on earlier versions of this paper. Special thanks to key stakeholders and
project members: Bhishna Bajracharya, Christine Ballinger, Kate Eltham,
Ruth Greenaway, Ian Haycrof, Helen Klaebe, Samantha Littley, Kerry
Mallan, Megan Marks, John McQueenie, Evonne Miller, and Courtney
Armstrong, A., R. Francis and a. V. Totikidis. eds. 2004. Managing
Community Governance: Determinants and inhibiters. 18th ANZAM
Conference, Dunedin, 8 - 11 December 2004. Dunedin.
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Cavaye, J. M. ed. 2004. Governance and Community Engagement - the Australian
experience in participatory governance: . Edited by. M. M. a. R. S. W.R Lovan, planning
confict mediation and public decision making in civil society. UK: Ashgate Publishing.
Foth, M. 2006. Sociocultural Animation. In Encyclopedia of Developing Regional
Communities with Information and Communication Technology., edited by S. a. T.
Marshall, Wallace and Yu, Xinghuo Hersey PA: Idea Group Reference (IGI Global).
Foth, M., B. Bhishna, R. A. Brown and G. Hearn. 2009. Te Second
Life of urban planning? Using neogeography tools for community
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Kooiman, J. 2003. Governing as Governance. London: Sage.
Mallan, K., M. Foth, R. Greenaway and G. T. Young. 2010. Serious playground: Using
Secondlife to engage high school students in urban planning. Journal of Learning, Media
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Mallan, K. and R. Greenaway. 2010. Radiant with possibility:
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community. Futures. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/29743/.
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OToole, K. and a. N. Burdess. 2004. New community governance in small rural
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Veenstra, G. and a. J. Lomas. 1999. Home is where the governing is: Social
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MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 233
Urban Overlay
Some preliminary remarks on technical
solutions for nontechnical problems
Martin Kohler
HafenCity Universitt Hamburg
Kai von Luck
Hochschule fr Angewandte Wissenschafen Hamburg
Jens Wille
Ubilabs Hamburg
Te restructuring of global cities big urban developments like the
HafenCity in Hamburg, the restad in Copenhagen or the Abandoibarra
in Bilbao have been faced by a special challenge: Usually these projects are
realized by private enterprises as developers that extinguish afer a certain
lifespan leaving a working urban area as social and physical neighbourhood.
Te emergence of an active community becomes the crucial part in such
projects in quite a short time. To initiate and establish these social bonds
with the people next door and the urban environment technical solutions
as playful and communicate tools will become a major role.
Inspired by Scott Snibbe and his social immersive media (Snibbe, 2010) as
well as by the Danish Digital Urban Living projects (DigitalUrbanLiving,
2010) we propose technical installations like media facades and social
interaction installations for provoking village like settings in high density
urban environment.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 234
In this paper we use the urban background of these projects exemplifed in
a case study of the HafenCity with a focus on the typical and special needs
of the pioneering residents to refect on thoughts about playful, seemless
integrated digital communication solutions to frame the emerging social
networks (typically based on blogs, mailing lists and websites). In this we
hope to raise questions more than provide answers.
Development of computer aided socially close relationships appears to be
common practise regarding established virtual communities by systems
classifed as social sofware (e.g. Facebook, among others).
At the same time development of emerging neighborhoods and dedicated
groups of residents is of special value for successful urban development and
urban regeneration projects. Te commonly observed shif in perception
of communes as representatives of an activating state (Harvey, 2000)
renders processes of local adaptation and regeneration by its citizens
necessary. Tereby their capacity to build neighbourhoods and structures
of communication and knowledge accordingly become the center of focus
(Chaskin, 2001).
Supporting these processes of acquisition and self organisation by social
networking systems as location based applications, could be of vital
importance for urban development projects as well as improving residents
contentedness and quality of life. Feeding such virtual information back
into (urban) real world spaces is usually is described as Augmented Reality.
Big displays lacking of special interactive abilities already are implemented
in public spaces (e.g. Points of Sale as well as ticket machines or interactive
information boards) and already are a common part of our cityscapes.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 235
Besides commercial advertising and business services, experimental civic
participation projects (e-Participation) enter public spaces engaging
transparent dialogues with residents by embedding relevant information
in his/her neighbourhood. Tus improving social communication, civil
engagement as well as access to local knowledge (Kingston, 2005).
Tis way a close involvement of residents and visitors to a certain
location is based on emotional engagement, which not only results from
individual internal processes but is also established from external social
processes (Emotion (Riger, Lacrakas, 1981)). Insights from the felds of
Environmental Psychology reinforce the value of emotional engagement:
Local identity, sense of community and social capital are critical aspects/
parts surrounding individuals, promoting development of communities and
their physical, social, political and economical aspects. Especially afective
binding to locations are capable of inspiring action, since individuals feel
motivated to visit, linger, to protect and to improve locations of individual
relevance.(Manzo, Perkins, 2006).
For this paper the question of how immersive social media strategies can
provide solutions to connect complex interactions (movement, distance,
gestures) with public space to support community communication as
emotionally relevant experience in urban large scale project.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 236
Case HafenCity, Hamburg
Hamburgs HafenCity, one of Europes most unique urban development
projects on an area of 157 ha for 12.000 inhabitants and 40.000 work
places until 2025. Housing, ofces, retail businesses, and dining and
entertainment fuse together with cultural and tourism oriented uses
within a close-knit neighborhood. Diferent small-scale urban functions
coexist and are associated with the diverse needs of various user groups.
Tis creates a new everyday metropolitan culture that is neither
characterized exclusively by consumption nor limited to providing a
platform for orchestrated urbanity; instead, it produces complex sites of
urban encounter.
Picture 1: Staged uses and art festivals are important
strategic elements in the developing the HafenCity
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 237
Commissioned by HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, a research project
explored use and function of public places within the HafenCity.
Following ethnographic research methodology the survey resulted
in book of photographs complied by six photographers and urban
researchers working under the supervision of Martin Kohler during the
summer of 2008. Te objective of the research project was to track which
patterns relating to use, encounters and visitor stopovers emerged on the
streets, squares and promenades of HafenCity. To this end, the researchers
observed and photographed the locations around the clock on workdays as
well as weekends, documenting what they saw in 17,000 photographs and
detailed feld journals.
According to social qualitative interviews of residents in the HafenCity the
most prominent reason for the decision to move to the HafenCity can be
found in starting a new phase of life in a new environment. Te starting of a
family, retirement or a new relationship are among the mentioned reasons.
Also, most of the residents are embedded in globally spread relations to
working partners, family members and friends. Te pioneering motive
means a loss of physical interaction and adds to the need of supporting
social relations within virtual communities like facebook, linkedin, xing
and else.
Te Results from the former mentioned ethnographic survey on the use of
public places in the HafenCity support this and suggests a distinctive need
of exposition the private in public by the residents as part of a bigger play
to present themselves and stage a public privacy in this highly popular
place (Bruns-Berentelg, et al, 2010).
Te fndings of this survey propose spatial clusters of public exposed
behaviour and spaces for the everyday activities in which visitors and
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 238
residents seamlessly mix. Te public places (promenades and waterfront
plazas) are used to a high degree by sports and consumption activities,
photographing and chatting with more or less known people. All of the
observed people show a strong sense of being watched and posing for the
public within an air of playful leisure time, communicating with diferent
aspects of the provided architecture.
Another result was the high degree of work in the public spaces that is
usually meant to happen in ofce buildings. Business meetings, working on
Notebooks and Smartphone and ofcial phone calls infuence the public
life in a stronger impact than as observed in comparable neighbourhoods.
So we can fnd a type of resident and employees that is mastering digital
communication as everyday activity and is in a need of new social
encounters. To bring these existing virtual communication into the public
sphere will be a strong supporter in the creation of a public sphere where
there was none at the beginning.
Social software and digital social media
Social sofware installations well known in private, virtual settings like
facebook, twitter, blogs, fickr etc bringing the shif from publish/consume
to participation as mentions by OReilly (OReilly, 2005) as the WEB 2.0
phenomenon become more and more established in relative small, relatively
well understood environments like companies (cf. McAfee, 2006) and are
discussed under the term enterprise 2.0. Tese activities are supported
by results from the computer supported collaborative work (CSCW)
approach, resulting amount many others in large interactive displays
(e.g. BlueBoard von IBM Research) (IBM Blueboard, 2010), (Russell,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 239
Gossweiler, 2001) for sharing company and work related information .
Displays for highlighting social activities are recently presented e.g. by the
Community Mirror project of the UdBW Munich (Ott, 2010), (Koch,
2010). Te sofware company SUN presented specialized social sofware
systems for he work related interaction of their knowledge workers.
(SunSpace, 2010). Te needs for digital social media and the research
questions in this area are recently discussed in (Bry et al., 2010).
Picture 2: Stills fom Tree Drops, digital installation by Scott Snibbe
(Snibbe, 2009)
Localized information and participation systems (e.g. the e-participation
system DEMOS of the TUTech Hamburg) have proven the usefulness
of these approaches. All these system are based on a top down oriented
information based approach, many of them as extensions of geographical
information and decision systems or forum based discussion platforms.
Tis observation is almost true for innovative examples like the citizen
information system, prototypical implemented at Municipality of
Bowen Island ( Journeay et al., 2004) or the platform NextHamburg
(NextHamburg, 2010) as well.
Immersive technologies developed in the arts like the social immersive
media experiments of Scott Snibbe (Snibbe, 2010) or the tangible bits
proposals by Hiroshi Ishii (Ishii, 2010) show the potential of interactive
immersive installations for urban neighborhoods. Elements of the ambient
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 240
assisted living research (e.g. AAL, 2010), especial the context aware
systems, could be cornerstones of new installations as well.
First steps of converting these proposals into everyday situations were
already developed among others at the HAW with the hamburg cubical
(Gregor, 2009). In the Ambient Intelligence research lab at the HAW
including a 140 qm smart apartment with an integrated usability new
gesture based interaction techniques with context aware components
are developed. Beside tangible interaction experiments and multitouch
installations are camera based gesture detection in the research focus
(Roberger, 2008), (Stegelmeier, 2009), (Roberger, 2009), (HAW
Ambient Intelligence, 2010). Interactive information and esp. participation
systems based on these results should be installed and evaluated in local
neighborhood settings as well.
Te implementation of social sofware approaches inside an urban
neighborhood is in the moment in the starting phase. Especially the specifc
conditions of interactive technologies in outside areas, confronting digital
less educated people with ubiquitous computing environment pose new
challenges on user centered design methods und community centered
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 241
Summarizing we do not believe that these technical solutions compensate
for a lack of serious urban development in a all its aspects. But by the
relocalization of virtual communities into the public sphere a boostering
and intensifying efect for the emergence of social bonds is highly
assumable. Tese efects will prove to be more long-lasting and sustainable
than a sheer city marketing of any kind.
Te new types of urban atmospheres and self constructions of the residents
beyond the classical private/public dichotomy in the big urban development
projects of our time are perfectly suited for playful and less meaningful digital
solutions in the public sphere seducing people to act with these interfaces.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 242
3. Deutscher AAL-Kongress, 2010, Berlin
Bry et al., 2010. 10041 Manifesto -- Perspectives Workshop: Digital
Social Media, Dagstuhl Seminar Proceedings, 2010
Bruns-Berentelg, Jrgen, Eisinger, Angelus, Kohler, Martin, Menzl,
Marcus, 2010. HafenCity Hamburg Neue Begegnungsorte
zwischen Nachbarschaf und Metropole, Berlin
Chaskin, R.J., Brown, P., Venkathes, S. h, Vidal, A., 2010. Building
Community Capacity. New York: Walter de Gruyter
CommunityMirror, 2010. [online]. wiki.informatik.unibw-
DigitalUrbanLiving 2010. [online]. www.digitalurbanliving.dk
Gregor, Sebastian et al., 2009. Tangible Computing revisited: Anfassbare Computer
in intelligenten Umgebungen, Kongress Multimediatechnik, Wismar
Harrison, Beverly, Gossweiler, Rich, 2001. Distributed and Disappearing
User Interfaces in Ubiquitous Computing, SIGCHI 2001 Workshop
Harvey, David, 2000 Possible Urban Worlds. Te Fourth Megacities Lectures, Te Hague
HAW Ambient Intelligence, 2010. [online]. www.
Hwang, J., 2008. U-city: Te next paradigm of urban development.
In: M. Foth, (ed.), Urban Informatics: Community Integration
and Implementation, Hershey, PA: IGI Global
IBM Blueboard, 2010. [online]. http://www.richgossweiler.
Ishii, 2010. [online]. tangible.media.mit.edu
Journeay, M., MacKinnon, C., Dunster, J., 2004. [online]. Community forum and
review of the Snug Cove village plan (Version 5): in search of common ground.
Kingston, R., 2002. Te role of e-government and public participation in the planning
process, in Proceedings of XVI AESOP Congress, Volos, Greece, July 1014
Kingston, R., Babicki, D., Ravetz, J., 2005. Urban Regeneration in the
Intelligent City, Nineth Conference on Computers in Urban Planning
and Urban Management, CASA, London, 29th June1st July
Koch, M., Ott, F., Richter, A., 2009. Community Mirrors - Using public shared
displays to move information out of the box, Suppl. Proceedings European
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 243
Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, pp. 17-18
Manzo, Lynne, Perkins, Douglas, 2006. Finding Common Ground: Te
Importance of Place Attachment to Community Participation and
Planning, Journal of Planning Literature, Vol. 20, No.4, pp.335-350
McAfee, 2006. Enterprise 2.0:Te Dawn of Emergent Collaboration.In:
MIT Sloan Management Review, Jg. 47, H. 3, S. 2028
Ministry of Information and Communication, 2006. u-Korea Master Plan, Seoul
Ministry of Construction and Transportation, 2006.
Ubiquitous City and Infrastructure Planning.Seoul
NextHamburg, 2010. [online]. www.nexthamburg.de
O'Reilly, Tim, 2005.What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and
Business Models for the Next Generation of Sofware
Ott, F., A. Richter, M. Koch, 2010. SocialNetworkingMirrorTM Einsatz
halbfentlicher Touchscreens als ubiquitre Benutzungsschnittstellen fr Social
Networking Services, In: Tagungsband der Multikonferenz Wirtschafsinformatik
Overmeyer, Klaus,2010. Kreative Milieus und ofene Rume -
Bericht an die Stadt Hamburg, Hamburg
Raasch, Jrg,2006. Usability von Anwendungssystemen - didaktische
Aspekte, Lecture Notes in Informatics, pp. 23-35
Roberger, Philipp, Luck, Kai von, 2008. Seamless interaction in interactive
rooms - some preliminary remarks, World Usability Day, Hamburg
Roberger, Philipp, Luck, Kai von, 2009. Iterative design of tabletop
GUIs using physics simulation, Mensch und Computer, Berlin
Russell Daniel M., Gossweiler, Rich 2001. On the Design of
Personal & Communal Large Information Scale Appliances, Russell
Daniel M., Gossweiler, Rich 2001. UbiCom 01, October
Snibbe, 2010. [online]. www.snibbeinteractive.com
Snibbe, 2009. [online]. http://www.fickr.com/photos/
Stegelmeier, Sven et al.2009. iFlat - Eine dienstorientierte
Architektur fr intelligente Rume, AAL, Berlin
SunSpace, 2010. Peter H. Raiser: Introduction slides to SunSpace, [online].
Talen, E. 2000. Bottom-up GIS: a new tool for individual and group expression in
participatory planning, Journal of the American Planning Association 66, pp. 279294.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 244
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 245
Boulevard of Production:
A Future Talents Attractor
A Retro-innovation for Graz 8020 & Co. [1]
Georg Flachbart
for Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Design, Stuttgart
Ivan Redi
ORTLOS space engineering, Graz
It is not about the comfortable continuity of tradition, but about
transformation and social mobility not about ftting in, but breaking
out. _William J. Mitchell
The State of Things
Our Western society is going through a transition that is crazier than ever.
It is partly a result of globalization, partly of the Digital Revolution and
the information-based economy it has produced. By liberating us from
physical boundaries and tangible assets it has made us both more fexible
and more vulnerable to competitors of all kinds. Moreover, this transition
forces us to radically rethink just how long not only business companies,
but well-established institutions, and even cities and states, can survive and
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 246
Its not only now in the wake of the Great Recession that the relevance of
current economic models has been questioned. Te business environment
has radically changed long before: Everyone from Everywhere competes
for Everything (see Sirkin and Hemerling and Bhattacharya, 2008).
Many a country of the developed world notably the U.S. is facing
both a huge budget defcit and high unemployment. And the chances to
reduce them are bad. Te main reason are excess production capacities
in classical manufacturing industries, specially in the worlds factory
China. Manufacturers are still producing more goods than the world
wants and the economic recovery could sufer for it for a long time. It
means, factories in some labor-intensive sectors will have to be either
closed or retooled for new innovative products. If not, there are fears that
the U.S. still the driver of the global economy remains stuck in the
so-called New Normal, i.e., slower economic growth, anemic recovery,
high unemployment and eo ipso spreading poverty, which would be
bad for all. As Larry Summers, former president of Harvard and now
director of Obamas National Economic Council, candidly admitted at
the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington in July
2009: Something new and possibly strange seems to be happening in this
recession. Something unpredicted by the experts. Te American economy
has been shedding jobs much, much faster than assumed. I dont think that
anyone fully understands this phenomenon (cited in Ramo, 2009, p.36).
Of course, the jobs crisis ofers also a unique opportunity to think in
profound ways about the jobs people in developed countries can and should
do best in order to avoid menacing poverty divide by ensuring sustained
job gains. As Reihan Salam, a policy adviser at the think tank e21, stresses:
People who feel obsolete in todays information economy will be joined
by millions more in the emerging post-information economy, in which
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 247
routine professional work and even some high-end services will be more
cheaply performed overseas or by machines. Tis doesnt mean that work
will vanish. It does mean, however, that it will take a new and unfamilair
form (Salam, 2010, p.40). So in order to cope with this looming problem,
new determiners for economic growth and international competitiveness
have to be analyzed, preferably even before the change is obvious.
Te combination of technological innovation and creative minds brains
& talents, creative risk-takers seems to become a matter of considerable
importance in current attempts to secure sustained prosperity in Western
World also in the future. What we urgently need to stay on top of the
innovation game are new intellectual interaction-stimulating environments
propelling imagination and ingenuity; environments, then, that take efect
on us like mental Viagra (Flachbart, 2006, pp.595-596). For everywhere in
Western World not only in the Sillicon Valley its high time to plot new
scenarios of how to live, learn and work outside familiar economic patterns
because its obvious that our recent pasts visions of the future werent
visionary enough. For example, we should as fast as possible unplug the old
wires and connectors of the corporate welfarism and, instead, transform
most of us into self-directed inventors & innovators like Nikola Tesla, for
instance, once was, and Steve Jobs today is both great masters of the art
of disruption. Te objective is to create a New Capitalism capitalism
against corporate welfarism, as Joseph E. Stiglitz recommends in his recent
book Freefall (Stiglitz, 2010, pp.199, 208). [2]
In this kind of intellectual interaction-stimulating environments
favorable for entrepreneurship of all kinds technological infrastructure,
economic organization, social relationships, and spatial structures are
very closely linked and even merged together, thus creating a powerful
Knowledge Space, which, in turn, enables all kinds of possibilities for
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 248
expanding individual opportunity, transforming the structure of work,
and, in so doing, propelling emergence of the new (invention, innovation,
game-change). Te key term being Open Innovation probably a new
hypercapitalist economic narrative of the emerging post-information era,
fairly focused on mastery of advanced tools and skills necessary for the
competing ways of life in the new world of Globality. It means tools and
skills for a future creative right-brain economy based on human-capital
Tere are four stages necessary to make the new economic narrative
happen: Open Space, Open Mind, Open Source and, last but not least,
Open Heart. A kind of Open Social as the Google guys would say. All
these terms relate, in one or another way, to Globalisation 3.0 where the
decisive vehicle of change are no longer corporations but groups and
individuals with their newfound power to collaborate and compete
globally (Friedman, 2005, pp.10, 70).
An Example May Illustrate: Graz 8020
In the fast-moving, transnational reality, European cities, regardless of
their current ranking, will act the way businesses are acting today, i.e.,
as strong competitors fghting for high-powered human capital (brains
& talents) the hottest ingredient in the future value creation process.
For it is this ingredient that ensures that the innovative metabolism of a
municipality does not slow down. Tis might prove to be fatal for local
urban development eforts, especially in a world where ceaseless innovation
and change is the omnipresent mantra. In this world, it does not do for
something to be new; it must be new in an awesome, mind-blowing way:
simply w00t!
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 249
Since brains & talents deal largely with data, images, ideas and transactions,
i.e., intangibles, its not likely for municipal authorities to focus much
on reviving the tangible parts of the economy, such as manufacturing,
logistics, traditional energy business and so on in order to cope with the
current economic downturn. Tey would certainly be better of when
investing in upgrading their urban infrastructures enabling platforms
(trafc and broadband connections, energy grid) to lay the groundwork
for accelerating the emergence of the new (new industries, new products,
new ways of life), and not merely updating them, i.e., deploying the same
economic patterns as in the past. Because once the current turmoil is over,
competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything within old
economic patterns will only become more ferce. Te reason ist that it is
no longer high-tech that guarantees the Western World economic progress
and, as a consequence, high standard of living but high-concept simply
ideas, many ideas, many smart ideas, brilliant, astounding, revolutionary
ones, which can be turned into popular, cutting-edge products just like
Apples iPod, iPhone or iPad for example. [3]
So from now on, the question every municipality will face is the following:
What does it take for all the fancy-free talents, cheerfully gallivanting
about the transnational landscape, to stay with us for as long as possible?
Te answer is quite simple: by creating as many intellectual interaction-
stimulating environments as possible, which act as attractors and magnets
for brains & talents like lanterns for moths: But, if talent magnet
developments can get the formula right, they will probably become key
to urban competitiveness in the twenty-frst century (Mitchell, 2005,
Our strategic approach to attracting more of the worlds smart, creative
risk-takers to the disadvantaged district of Graz 8020 (ZIP code) the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 250
implementation of a Boulevard of Production in the Annenstrasse (Annen
Street) between Roseggerhaus and Metahof is an attempt to get the
formula right. Looking back, catapulting ahead, it is a real innovation,
because astoundingly easy to implement: plug & play.
a) Annenstrasse as Boulevard of Production #1
Graz, Annenstrasse (Annen Street), connecting the Central Railway Station and
the Sdtiroler Place, sufers fom the extinction of the traditional business patterns.
A standard example of a dying street in the middle of a mid-sized European city.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 251
Annenstrasse, connecting the Grazer Central Railway Station and the
Sdtiroler Place with the new Kunsthaus, has been sufering from the
extinction of the traditional business patterns for years. In the past, with
very little trafc and no shopping malls luring customers to the outskirts,
this street was a lively location with small shops and miscellaneous services
providers based there. Today, the Annenstrasse is full of empty spaces, cut-
price stores, fast-food restaurants, and betting shops. A frequent change of
owners and tenants is the norm.
An empty store in the Annenstrasse (Annen Street)

Another empty store in the Annenstrasse (Annen Street)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 252
For that reason, the street has gradually been losing its originality, vitality and
locational attractiveness, and becoming more and more a faceless transit zone.
In brief, Annenstrasse and with it the whole neighbourhood of Graz 8020, for
years struggling in the shadow of middle-class Graz 8010 needs help. It needs
a new golem an advanced tool that, contrary to the original golem story,
revives and vitalizes the whole district. Tis new golem is, of course, not a colossus
built of clay, but rather a productive nothingness, a pure infrastructure. In other
words, it is a can-do-approach to life resulting from district dwellers mastering
of advanced tools and skills and leading to an authentic, enthusiastic, foolishly
inspiring city district, always in high spirits and always well interconnected. [4]
But how can such a city district come into being without great material efort?
Te solution is, once again, quite simple: the primary driver of urban life is no
longer consumption, it is production. It is concentrated in the centre of the city
again, say, in a street, similar to artisan areas in medieval cities. Consequently,
by activating the autosuggestive function of urban planning, the Annenstrasse
will be converted to the Boulevard of Production between Roseggerhaus and
But instead of classical artisans (German Handwerker), you will have
brainworkers working next to each other the entrepreneurs of the new
creative knowledge industry, a sector of industry specializing in the perpetual
production of innovation. Te point is: Innovation is increasingly about having
groups of people come together to leverage their diverse talents and expertise
to solve multi-faceted challenges that cross multiple disciplines (Lindegaard,
2010). At present this comprises a mix of jobs in IT, media, art, education,
science and management. Later on, creative risk-takers on the Boulevard of
Production will be the whole variety of new, yet unfamiliar professions such
as day-dreamers, fantasy gardeners, invention catalysts, imagination incubators
and the likes.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 253
Te Annenstrasse between the Roseggerhaus (01) and the Metahof (03) to
be converted to the Boulevard of Production. Te small grey boxes stand
in for the future iVan implants in old buildings with empty stores.
Te raw material predominantly processed in this new industrial base is
digital data. Tis raw material is shapeless (golem Hebrew for something
shapeless) and can therefore be shaped into anything and can do anything;
it is inexhaustible and can be varied, combined and transformed in endless
ways with virtually no quality loss and supplier trafc. Te form and the
capacities it assumes during the production process notably prototyping
and digital fabrication depend on the application. However, this will
require the implementation of a high-performance IT-infrastructure for
open, distributed and heterogeneous application environments on the
basis of next-generation networks that can carry massive amounts of data
and so deliver the full potential of on-demand content. [5] High-Bandwith
Provide is the byword, which is the only necessary pre-investment by the
Graz City Council.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 254
Spiritual intensity provided by smart, creative risk-takers based in
the Annenstrasse will generate urban density without costly material
interventions, e.g., erecting new buildings or consumer temples. Our city-
upgrade proposal focuses on the existing hardware (old buildings) set
up with new programmes but without major refurbishing measures.
Tis will make it possible to create something new out of something old
with minimal investment of capital and reduced impact of materiality. Te
environment we envisage will remix life, work, leisure and overcoming
space. Te Annenstrasse is supposed to turn into an open, dynamic socio-
spatial confguration: a Vibrant Agonistic Public Sphere, as we decided to
call it afer having fallen in love with this term coined by Chantal Moufe
(Enwezor, et al., 2002, p.90). It is a dense sphere brimming with confict,
vibrant and lively, inspiring and motivating, where people meet not as
enemies (antagonism) but as challengers, adversaries (agonism). It is a
robust democratic business platform that will make a free fall of fantasy
possible for its users. A zero gravitation zone on earth. An attractor for
brains & talents. A magnet for people. Hallelujah! For, as Richard Florida
writes in his latest book Te Great Reset, Talented people who live and
interact in dense ecosystems generate ideas and products faster than they
can in other places. Tere is no evidence that globalization or the Internet
has changed that (Florida, 2010, p.152).
And where are new production facilities (programmes), the generators of
both wealth and urbanity? Te abandonned shops on the ground foor
will experience a novel form of upgrade. Tey will not be adapted and
refurnished; instead they will be stripped and changed into production
sites by means of modularly designed city labs called iVan, following the
principle of plug & play. Te modules will be inserted, their components
interconnected, linked up to the electricity and high-bandwith click!
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 255
and will be ready for use. Not unlike dental implants processing, instead of
food, digital data.
Basic slice of the iVans envelope resizeable in lenght
Combined basic slices making the iVan resizeable in all directions
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 256
b) The City Lab iVan: the Heart of
the Boulevard of Production

Outside the iVan with a customized facade, example 1
Te City Lab iVan the Intelligent Vibrant Ambience/New is a large-
scale instrument of the beyond-the-desktop-era ambient computing for
creative networked collaboration. Tis advanced, modulary-designed, pre-
fabricated, network-centric, mixed-reality-based space tool marks one of
the frst heterarchitectural works. With 50% of architecture being located
outside its architecture on the Net, online, the iVan is conceived as a
quantum object in which real space (1, OFF-line) and virtual space (0,
ON-line) are literally superimposed, thus obeying the rules of quantum
mechanics (1 and 0, OFF and ON at once) rather than classical physics.
[6] Tis makes the iVan extremely fexible, notably in enabling on-demand
working environments to be created according to any given requirement
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 257
by the user. In this way, the iVan can support a wide range of users working
to resolve the complexities of large-scale data management issues like data-
rich 3D modelling, analysis and strategic decision making. Moreover,
due to the fact that it does not prescribe any particular kinds of usage,
the iVan behaves like a supportive design partner (Feng, 2010, p.624)
rather than an intrinsically passive tool unaware of the context in terms of
environment and users behavior. So using the iVan is actually a pervasive
human-environment interaction that not only yields a reading of the
current confguration but also reconfgures the system itself, (Feng, 2010,
p.626), i.e., learns users behavior and adapts services and interfaces to it.
Proactive Computing is the byword.

Inside the iVan data space
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 258
In other words, the iVan is a sort of large-scale iPad being realized in space:
easy to install, easy to use, easy to customize, easy to move (just like driving
a van from/into a garage). And like the iPad, it is merely the tangible
component of a much larger device, an entire Internet ecosystem that
extends out to the horizon in every direction (Grossman, 2010, p.23).
Te diference is, while the iPad is a device for consuming content, the
iVan is a device for creating it. Moreover, its ready for Web3D, providing
interactive, immersive experience much richer than graphical interfaces of
todays Web.
b1) What the iVan Does and How It Does It
In resolving the complexities of large-scale data management issues,
e.g. prototyping or virtual collaboration, the main challenge is to allow
the user an intuitive access to 3D modelling and numerical simulation
engines, combined with an attached background knowledge represented
as semantic networks. Tis makes the diference that transforms a database
into an information space for which conventional WIMP-style user
interfaces (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer) are inappropriate.
For the design of highly complex spatial confgurations, as aimed at in the
City Lab iVan, we need a novel generation of user interfaces by means of
which space itself becomes the pre-eminent tool, rather than the familiar
desktop. Tis implies a paradigm change: Instead of having to choose
operations explicitly, e.g., from a menu, the sofware actively ofers the
operations that are most likely needed by the user. To some degree, the
sofware derives the users intent, which requires certain context awareness,
but also fexible re-confguration of input devices and interaction modes.
An important principle of this form of human-computer-interaction is
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 259
cognitive transparency: it must always be completely clear to the user what
his options and choices are.
Tis goal can only be achieved by sophisticated graphical means to
highlight views, selections, and operations appropriately showing which
input channels are mapped to which degrees of freedom of the design that
is currently under development. Te challenge, however, is to visually show
not only data and relations, but also the operations the system ofers or
proposes to the user. It must be possible to start a spatial fow simulation
literally by only waving ones hand, the result of which leads to model
changes that can be carried out very precisely using tangible interaction
devices. Tis overall intent can be roughly divided into two parts, a backed
context management and a fronted technology the user is in direct contact
with, i.e., a diversity of heterogeneous input and output devices that can
be promptly reconfgured. So instead of separating the physical space into
classical rooms or functional room sequences we organize the real envelope
as fow sections, which means that the two dimensional foor plan and
the appropriate section melt into four felds of activity the rooms are
not defned by their classical ofce function (work spaces, open plan
ofce, cubicles, meeting rooms etc.), but through scope of actions. Teir
coefcients vary according to the need (requirements) and their activity
vectors can entangle, a liquid space comes into being which defnes
itself according to the wishes of the users. Te following functional fows
permeate the room:
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 260
Te iVans components with functional fows
1) production fow here work happens ergonomically and according to
personal preferences, sitting, lying down, standing. Since the concept of
work today changes daily, the user should not be prevented from working
creatively by the room or by the furniture.
2) data fow the visualization of data should visually foat in the way the
user needs it. No matter if it is a matter of info screens, projection surfaces,
interactive foors or other media dependent on data fow. We are talking
about a space built from data which, however, has a haptic confguration.
It is consequently about diferent data media, which can be activated,
changed or deactivated according to what is needed.
3) social fow there are no specially designated meeting rooms, because
one is constantly in collaboration, real and virtual. Te cofee breaks are
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 261
integrated within the working process, combined in social in-between
situations and integrated in production, where the transition from small
talk to productive brainstorming happens. Communication and social
interaction merge in this area of activity with the presentation of everyones
own work. Te area of activity can also unfold in the outdoor area and the
public space directly in front of the building door.
4) support fow additional demands result from the need to support
securable areas, such as for example server areas, storage areas, toilets,
etc. Te iVan is conceptualized in such a way that it is inserted into the
available building structure, preferably into urban ground foor zones, as
they ofen have an open foor plan (in most cases reuse of former retail
space). Technically, it is a matter of envelope, or of a single surface, which
can vary in width, length and height. Above the air handling ceiling is the
space where installations and technology is placed, and under the foor the
necessary infrastructure, connections and heating are placed. Tis concept
makes it possible to freely design an interior according to unforeseen
b2) The iVans Main Components
Te iVan is equipped with a virtual environment construction kit
adaptable to the needs of sof architecture (a reconfgurable space system)
consisting of three parts: a) multi-projection facilities, b) tracking and
gesture-recognition components, and c) spatial interaction techniques
based on natural metaphors that make the use of 3D immersive devices
intuitive. Its particular function is to support collaborative approaches to
the production of perpetual innovation.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 262
It is important to point out that the technology we are discussing here is
already on the market or it will be in near future. Te main challenge lies
in the interoperability of components. At the present, the single devices
are not aware of each other and as such in their unity not aware of the
user in a proper manner. For that reason the middleware sofware is to
be developed which connects hardware components and applications
based on service-orientated architecture. Since the spatial setting of the
environment cannot be foreseen in regard to the users requirements the
whole system has to be modular and highly fexible where a quick on-
demand adaptation is possible.
Te interior of the iVan is envisioned as a sensitive space, usually described
with somewhat vaguely defned terms such as Ambient Intelligence or
Context Awareness in a very concrete setting. We re-interpret these terms
to make them operational by:
1) keeping a notion of context of the task that is currently being carried
out by the user,
2) presenting the possible options, data, and operations unambiguously,
3) trying to infer appropriate responses to the input received from the user.
Te iVan project aims at developing a formal context model for dynamic
environments that combine the strengths of both approaches while
trying to avoid carrying on their specifc weaknesses into the resulting
framework. Semantics is the key to scene understanding: A table and a
wall can both be projected on, but only on the table things can be put
(e.g., for object tracking), while a moveable screen can block light from a
camera or from a projector. Tis kind of reasoning is indispensable for the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 263
dynamic re-confguration of mentioned sensitive space. Te context model
will therefore combine three things:
1) knowledge represented by ontologies and semantic networks,
2) logical reasoning based on this knowledge, and
3) user-defnable operation sequences.
With respect to front-end technology, the iVan pursues the vision of
using cameras as generalized input devices. Tis is both ambitious and
necessary. Only camera-based input provides the extreme fexibility and
high bandwidth needed for advanced human-computer interaction; only
cameras can survey space at a reasonable ratio between cost and coverage.
We envision the full range of camera-based interaction modes, marked by
the following examples:
1) back-projection walls with rear cameras to track fnger multi-touch
2) multi-touch tables and tangible objects carrying markers for high-
precision 2D input
3) normal tables surveyed by top-mounted cameras to track gestures and
4) cameras targeting the space where users perform, applying gesture
5) cameras detecting feet, hand and whole body movement and also static
positions through self-adapting luminance-based tracking algorithms
6) camera-projector feedback performing 3D object reconstruction
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 264
7) self-calibration of external and internal parameters of both cameras and
So far each of these techniques have been used individually. Te ambitious
goals of the iVan, however, can only be achieved through a tight integration
of at least some of them. Space only becomes context-aware when it is
possible to switch promptly from object recognition to marker tracking
to 3D reconstruction all based on the needs of the user. On side of the
output, the state-of-the-art presentation technologies, such as holographic
screens, large-scale projections using edge-blending or high-end screens,
will be employed to create a space where shared interaction becomes
possible and efcient. [7]
Concluding Comments
Te iVans genuine application feld is the Creative Knowledge Industry.
As we already mentioned in the intro, we assume that in the near future
this industry will be playing a leading role in Western World and that it
will require new socio-spatial environments being able to ofer optimal
working conditions and tools to a work style characterized by increased
mobility, high levels of creativity and powerful 3D simulation capacity.
Te city lab iVan is a docking station for creative minds, supporting
vibrant design thinking culture that will encourage prototyping as part
of the creative process and not just as a way of validating fnished ideas
(Brown and Wyatt, 2010). Tis is a prerequisite sine qua non for rapid,
cost-efective transformation of original ideas into competitive products
and services, in a word, innovations.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 265
Outside the iVan with a customized facade, example 2
Te iVan is about bringing the very latest in visual computing technology
to the practical level, enhancing education and business capacities notably
in disadvantaged, nonmetropolitan areas. Its comprehensive visualization
system will enable regional SMEs, independent research groups,
administrative and educational units, and individual risk-takers in a wide
variety of felds to collaborate locally or remotely accross disciplines,
visualize and evaluate data in a more intuitive fashion, and make complex
decisions in realtime under extensive use of feed-back loops. Tis kind of
technology is exactly what we need in Europe to push divergent thinking
as the route, not obstacle, to innovation (Brown and Wyatt, 2010) and,
in doing so, to ensure sustainable economic growth.
Te iVan is designed to be scalable and replicable all over Europe, and even
the world. But it will be launched frst in two training centers in Graz,
Austria, and Kosice, Slovakia, as a pilot. In Kosice, this will take place
within the European Capital of Culture 2013.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 266
[1] Tis article is the sequel of our article Golem Reloaded: For More Capitalism
and Less Architecture, 2006, published on initiative of the Hyperbody Group,
TU Delf, led by Prof. Kas Oosterhuis. In: Oosterhuis K. and Feireiss L., eds.,
GameSetandMatch II: On Computer Games, Advanced Geometries, and Digital
Technologies. Rotterdam: episode publishers, pp.588-597. It encompasses our
independent research activities from 2006-09 within the framework of the project City
Upgrade Te High-spirited Networked City, Part Two, situated in Graz, Austria.
[2] Robert Litan, who directs research at the renown Kaufman Foundation in
Kansas City, which specializes in promoting innovation in America, has made a
following diagnosis: Between 1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in
the U.S. were created by frms that were fve years old or less. Tat is about 40 million
jobs. Tat means the established frms created no new net jobs during that period.
In: Friedman T. L., 2010. Start-Ups, Not Bailouts. New York Times, April 3.
[3] By the way, the renown U.S. magazine FORTUNE has chosen Apples
Steve Jobs the CEO of the Decade for following three reasons: He defed the
downturn, cheated death, and changed our world. Fortune, 160(9), cover.
[4] Compare Alden Oreck. Te Golem, 2010. Available at: http://www.
jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Golem.html . In Jewish tradition, the golem is
most widely known as an artifcial creature created by magic, ofen to serve its creator. (...)
In Hebrew, golem stands for shapeless mass. Te Talmud uses the word as unformed
or imperfect and according to Talmudic legend, Adam is called golem, meaning
body without a soul (Sanhedrin 38b) for the frst 12 hours of his existence. Te golem
appears in other places in the Talmud as well. One legend says the prophet Jeremiah made
a golem. However, some mystics believe the creation of a golem has symbolic meaning
only, like a spiritual experience following a religious rite. In principle, the golem is for
us a can-do-approach to life: an architecture against architecture, pure infrastructure:
unformed or imperfect, which would come to life and serve its creators by doing
tasks assigned to him. And so is the iVan. What it needs to get formed or perfect is
soul is data. To put it simply, the golem is a masterpiece of heterarchitecture (or
quantum architecture). And so is the iVan. Relating to heterarchitecture see Flachbart
G. and Weibel P. eds., 2005. Disappearing Architecture: From Real to Virtual to
Quantum. Basel, Boston, Berlin: Birkhuser Publishers for Architecture, pp.13, 268.
[5] For example, NECs SpectralWave reconfgurable add-drop mutiplexers
(ROADM) an optical networking solution enables 3.2 terabits
per second of transport which is equivalent to sending one thousand
Hollywood movies per second into homes per Internet TV.
[6] Te term heterarchitecture was frst coined by Georg Flachbart and Peter Weibel
in Flachbart G. and Weibel P. eds., Disappearing Architecture: From Real to Virtual to
Quantum. Basel, Boston, Berlin: Birkhuser Publishers for Architecture, pp.13, 268.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 267
[7] Key features to be still solved: a) ambient intelligence by integrating context-
awareness with user feedback, b) extending a toolbox ofsofware components for
cognitive vision, c) adapting and refning existing interaction technologies. Te basis
for it will be the results of the ITEA 2 project Easy Interactions 2007-2010, led by
EADS Secure Networks, France, within Europes premier co-operative R&D programme
Information Technology for European Advancement (ITEA), driving pre-competitive
research on embedded and distributed sofware-intensive systems and services.
Brown T. and Wyatt J., 2010. Design Tinking for Social Innovation.
Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2010. [online] Available at:
Feng H., 2010. Quantum Architecture. An Indeterministic and
Interactive Computational Design System. In: CAADRIA 2010.
New Frontiers. Conference proceeding published by Association for
Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia.
Flachbart G., 2006. Golem Reloaded: For More Capitalism and Less Architecture.
In: Oosterhuis K. and Feireiss L., eds., GameSetandMatch II: On Computer Games,
Advanced Geometries, and Digital Technologies. Rotterdam: episode publishers.
Flachbart G. and Weibel P. eds., 2005. Disappearing Architecture: From Real to
Virtual to Quantum. Basel, Boston, Berlin: Birkhuser Publishers for Architecture
Florida R., 2010. Te Great Reset. How New Ways of Living and Working
Drive Post-Crash Prosperity. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Friedman T.L. , 2005. Te World Is Flat. Te Brief History of the
Twenty-frst Century. Farrar, New York: Straus and Giroux.
Grossman L., 2010. Launch Pad. TIME 175(14).
Lindegaard S., 2010. Why a Networking Culture Is Important.
[online] Available at: http://www.business-strategy-innovation.
Mitchell W.J., 2005. Placing Words. Symbols, Space, and
the City. Cambridge/MA, London: MIT Press.
Moufe C., 2002. For an Agonistic Public Sphere. In: Enwezor O.,
et al., eds., Democracy Unrealized. Ostfldern: Hatje Cantz.
Ramo J.C., 2009. Unemployment Nation. TIME, October 5.
Salam R., 2010. Te Dropout Economy. Te Future of Work
Looks a Lot Like Unemployment. TIME 175(11).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 268
Sirkin H.L., Hemerling J.W., Bhattacharya A.K., 2008. Globality: Competing with
Everyone from Everywhere for Everything. New York: Hachette Book Group.
Stiglitz J.E., 2010. Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the
World Economy. New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 269
New Media as a Catalyst
for Integration in Cross-
Border Regions?
Jan-Philipp Exner
Dipl. Ing. MSc., TU Kaiserslautern, exner@rhrk.uni-kl.de
Guido Kebbedies
Cand. Ing., TU Kaiserslautern, kebbe@rhrk.uni-kl.de
Department for Computer-Aided Design in Urban Planning and
Architecture, TU Kaiserslautern
Cross-border integration was and still is one key aspects of the EU. Te
focus of this study is to show the eforts of a German-French border-region
for a better integration and its use of new media and technical solutions
by planners. Te Eurodistrict SaarMoselle is a new founded EBCG
(European Cross-Border Cooperation Groupings) to improve the cross-
border cooperation in this German-French region. Due to the fact, that
media has the ability to connect people and places, the question could be
raised, if this integration is fostered by innovative solutions induced by new
media? How could such a system be supposed and if there is an approach
or some kind of platform and furthermore how will be the acceptance and
how could it be raised? One of the frst projects for this newly founded
administrative unit is a common monitoring and management system for
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 270
the commercial zones. In order to realize this enterprise, the aim was to
create a web-based tool, which is accessible by every participating German
and French project partner and enables them to maintain their own
spatial data (commercial zones for example). Besides the development
and composition of this tool, continuative ideas were discussed, how to
induce further cross-border integration and cooperation by the use of new
technologies and new media.
Study case Eurodistrict SaarMoselle
Te European Union and its integration have a long and eventful history.
Te transformation from an inhomogeneous accumulation of sovereign
states into a more supranational confederation is accompanying with the
ambition of more cooperation between the countries. Tus, this is especially
remarkable in border areas. One of these regions with an especially eventful
and changing history in the last 200 years is the German-French-border.
Te Federal State Saarland as parts of this area even changed its afliation
for eight times (Eurodistrict SaarMoselle, 2008).
One of the frst remarkable cross-border cooperation projects was the region
Saar-Lor-Lux. Tis was founded by the state of Luxemburg, the French
federal state Lorraine and the German federal state Saarland (subsequently,
the Belgium Wallonie and the German Rhineland-Palatine joined this
administrative construction as well) and was established mostly because
of the common economic structure (steel- and mining-based industries)
and their needs for common cooperation. Besides this greater-region those
issues, the demand for a cooperation unit on a smaller scale arose. Especially
the importance of urban areas for the rural development attained more
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 271
attention. Te Charta of Leipzig now as well underlines the importance of
this issue in 2007 from the European Union (European Commission, 2007).
One of those regions is the German-French neighbouring region around
the city of Saarbrcken. Tis agglomeration area of Saarbrcken and its
close German communities as well as the bordering French communities
count about one million inhabitants (Eurodistrict SaarMoselle, 2008).
Especially the spatial proximity and the same economy structure are
causing the demand for a high cooperation and integration and on the
other hand, the disuse of this special potential. Aim for this area, which
is a smaller unit than a EUREGIO, was to establish an Eurodistrict. In
the middle of the nineties, the Verein Zukunf-Saar-Moselle-Avenir was
founded to improve the cooperation and integration in this cross-border
agglomeration area. Subsequently in 2010, the Eurodistrict SaarMoselle,
an European Cross-Border Cooperation Groupings (Europ. Verbund
territorialer Zusammenarbeit/EVTZ) developed from its predecessors.
Tis construction is founded by the European program Interreg IVa and
by a yearly member fee of 0,80/inhabitant. Te following picture clarifes
the dimensions with the actual members of the Eurodistrict (blue line) and
possible partners.
As mentioned before, the idea for this cross-border region with a changeful
history is, to create a sense of unity. Tis should be achieved mostly by
cooperation and cross-border projects, both on administrative and on
social levels. Whereas the actual study project is focussing on a commercial
zone management system with the Eurodistrict, 3 German and 6 French
partners and its complex requirements, further going ideas will show the
potential of the embedding of social media for example.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 272
Figure 1: Eurodistrict SaarMoselle 2010, Members 2010.
[Image online] Available at <http://www.saarmoselle.org/
page446-409-kartografe.html> [Accessed 02 August 2010]
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 273
Cross-border integration is always accompanied with problems and
barriers. Tese barriers for this integration could occur mostly on
multidimensional levels. Te administrative level and the political
frameworks are the ones which could just be hardly changed. Due to the
social and cultural diferences in border regions there are ofen problems
on this planning level as well. Te technical level (sofware, workfow,
original data for example) ofen has big disparities between communities
and especially countries, but these are the problems that could be solved,
in particular by new, innovative technical solutions. Hence, one of the frst
projects in their new constitution of the Eurodistrict SaarMoselle was to
develop a common, cross-border management for the commercial zones. If
there is the will to cooperate between diferent kinds of areas and regions,
it is essential to manage the arrangement of kinds of land use, has a need for
common strategies to avoid unrestrained usage of settlement and to give a
basis for the management for the conficts of use between the interests of
the project partners. Hence, it is the logical step, to embed and land use
monitoring, which is an observation over time, in order to as well achieve
sustainability in an economic and ecologic way. Tis is as well the condition
for the management and monitoring of the commercial zones, which is the
reason for the cooperation between Eurodistrict and TU Kaiserslautern.
Te idea was, to create a technical platform comparable to a portal that
contains a coherent raw-dataset with centrally managed spatial data and
decentralized managed metadata for common cooperation. Furthermore,
the aim was to organize and promote spatial data, frst for the mentioned
political and administrative purpose, in a second step to create a platform
to attract and inform potential investors.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 274
Basis to organize this spatial data is a Geographical Information System
(GIS). Guhse (2005, p. 257) states that a GIS-system is the integral
component of the information and communication-technology in the
administrative departments. Usually, the term GIS-system is used for a
specifc, complex sofware-package with a connected database, which is
specifed to organize spatial data and for geospatial analysis. Because there
has to be a strategic and as well expensive decision for specifc GIS-system,
the approach in this project was to set up frst a test-balloon, to show
to potential of such technologies to the project partners. Our approach
for a frst an easy-to-use solution was a combination between a website
with embedded mapplets and the connection via scripts to a database fle.
In fact, it is not typical GIS by defnition, but by its components, it is a
geographical-information-system that displays map-based data and allows
simple geospatial analysis. Tis small and thin solution makes it possible,
to create results, which are manageable without any complex briefngs for
the project partners and is adaptable for requirements. Hence, it has not
the full functionality and usability of a Desktop- or Web-GIS, but it is
available via every usual browser nearly without any restriction. Te existing
data has been collected and homogenized via a web-appearance by the use
of existing open source web-standards. Tus, this frst easy-to-use solution
to visualize results is rather a website connected to a database than a typical
web-mapping-service or a Web-GIS, which is still sufcient at this step.
Te sofware which was used for pre- and post-processing (QuantumGIS)
is as well as the map database free available in order to avoid costs for
the communities, which have naturally a very limited fnancial range
and capacities. Te technical realization had as frst step to think about
a common database, which accessible via Internet. Fundament for this
should be Openlayersplatform (Open Source Geospatial Foundation)
that allows it to embed maps from various sources like for example the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 275
free available Open Street Map as well as commercial providers such as
Microsof Bing (Microsof Cooperation) or Google Maps (Google Inc.).
Afer setting up this frst step, the relevant commercial zone data of the
project partners has to be aggregated. One big problem as well is to
homogenize this data in terms of geographical projections and graticule.
Standards on French and German side are diferent, even between the
territorial communities on the French side are diferent geographical
systems. Tis data has to be integrated in a webportal, which was made by
the use of a mixture of shp-fles and kmz-fles. Another point is to adjust the
arrangement and exposition of the data, whereas the project partners had
diferent ideas about. Questions like the amount of published metadata,
potential commercial zones, embedding of trafc zones and calculations
have to be solved. Tis system needs a thoughtful composition and
maintenance, with focus on data handling, avoidance of data redundancy,
especially with a server and a lot of decentrally connected project partners
from diferent countries with diferent workfows. Tis data is published
in a frst, intern portal, just accessible for administrative authorities that
have to join the connected metadata (pictures, information and contact
persons for example).
Figure 2: Own graphic 2010. Content. [electronic print] [Accessed 29 August 2010]
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 276
Furthermore, the possibility is given to set up sample database queries and
geospatial analysis (all free areas between 20 and 60 square kilometres, for
example), to get use of the connected data. Technical and administrative
questions (who is running the system, how to organize the user rights for
example) have to be solved in the future as well. Te structure has to be
fexible, to react on occurring problems, like a changing composition of
the project partners, diferent administrative structures and workfows
and diferent focus of usability. An approach for this complex task and
further common projects could just be to achieve it with a step-by-step
solution, initiate it from a slight and smart starting-point. In addition to
this, it is important to involve the local authorities as much as possible
in order to gain consent. Tis bottom-up-principle could act as catalyst
to raise the acceptance of this portal, because every project member is
in charge for their own data and not dependent on a higher authority.
Tis own consciousness and responsibility for the data also on the lower
administrative levels is important to boost the subsidiary. For this point,
the bottleneck of the system is the usage of the kml/kmz-fles for the
visualisation and the shp/dbf format as database storage and the restricted
functionality. With this solution, it is very easy to edit the metadata of
the commercial zones but if the geometry of the zones changes or a new
commercial zone is planned, it is necessary to edit the data with a Desktop
GIS and re-import it to the system. A solution for this problem is the usage
of a real geodatabase and a WFS-T as a backend. In this case the user
of the Administration-Portal is also able to change the geometry of the
commercial zones as well as further complex tasks.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 277
Te Administration Portal is closed for public visitors and aims especially
for data input and to manage and aggregate the commercial by the
cooperation members. Te homogenising data (same projection mode and
the method of collection) is displayed on this website and only accessible
for the communities and they are in force to insert their own data. Te
strong focus on self-administration should aim for a better acceptance
of such a portal and especially the way of working and collaborating.
Hence, there will be not a typical top-down-oriented result because every
member will be in charge of the quality of their own data and will feel
responsible for it. Besides the data input, it gives he potential for more
detailed geospatial analysis than in the open portal and it contains as well
the planned commercial zones, which are already not legally fxed.
Figure 3: Own graphic 2010. Administration portal.
[electronic print] [Accessed 29 August 2010]
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 278
In addition to that, a Viewer-Portal with possibility for data-request
is developed to inform public visitors and investors and in a marketing
purpose. It should result in a platform for spatial information. In order to
raise the acceptance for such a common approach, on both German and
French side, the availability for every partner for all collected data to a
certain degree could raise its acceptance for example as well. Te following
screenshot shows a possible databasequery.
Figure 4: Own graphic 2010. Viewer portal. [electronic
print] [Accessed 29 August 2010]
Possible future perspectives
As mentioned before, the system is just technical snap-shot. Besides the
mentioned functionalities, the integration of further analysis-tools to
monitor the commercial zone areas use is a logical progress, for example.
By observing the changes with resilient numbers, it gives the chance for a
sustainable evaluation of the cross-border commercial zones development.
Even with the restricted functionalities, the requirements observation,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 279
acquisition and interpretation of changes Streich stated in 2005 (p. 248)
for an at least simple spatial monitoring system are fulflled. Further going
thoughts intends to create a common portal for the region. However, these
properties are not fxed so far, but there are ideas for a common spatial data
infrastructure with connected map-based data. An information-portal like
this to represent the region and to give its population a central contact-
point would not be only just a GIS, rather than geographical, web-based
community portal. Whereas on a larger scale, like for Greater Region
Saar-Lor-Lux, a complex GIS-solution is needed for regional planning
and spatial observations and tends more to fulfl the requirements. Besides
the European integration, the European Union pays also attention for the
requirements for an information society, because the development of our
society towards an information society is an inevitable trend (European
Parliament, 2000). Tus, innovation and the knowledge society are mayor
EU-policies and are aiming for new creative solution to existing problems.
Maybe, the frst cross-border Geoportal with people involved, promote
region as innovative with innovative projects could be one of them.
Te observation was made, that the Technical barriers especially on the
sofware level are ofen easier to overcome than the complex and more
static administrative ones between countries and other local units.
Furthermore, on the roadmap for the Eurodistrict SaarMoselle is this
commercial zones monitoring system just a frst step upcoming projects
are for example a tourist guide and the mentioned common GIS-solution.
A logical continuation could be also a social community portal with basis
spatial data and linkage to social communities (facebook, fickr, Qype for
example), in order to get more related content (facebook-Like-Buttons,
photos, recommendation and events for example). OReilly highlighted
this importance of this social communities and user-generated-content in
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 280
the web 2.0 in 2005. Te principle of those communities with the use of
interactive and collaborative elements could foster the idea of integration.
A possible frst project could a common bicycle network in the region,
which is enriched by posts, recommendations and connected to specifc
social community groups. By this, such a portal could be enriched with
more information, which is relevant for the inhabitants of the Eurodistrict
and could aim to link the portal locally. Plus, it might act as an interface
between the local and administrative level. As mentioned, there is the
potential to use media and new technical solutions to utilize people as
driven forces for the cross border integration. Hence, it is important as
well that besides the authorities, the people have to be involved.
Another enriching element could be a user-driven crowdsourcing data
collection. By this, users are adding various data to system and are upgrading
the database. Tough, the integration of the commercial zones metadata
(geometries later) shows this principle on a low level. Tough, the whole
potential is even bigger. Tis user generated content, added by desktop-
computers and especially by mobile devices will increase in the future
and could lead to a stronger and vital connection between the users and
their data. However, together with all of these chances, there will be some
threats and requirements as well. Tere has to be a specifc management
and administration for this geographical attached information in order to
avoid data cemeteries and to provide constant access. In addition, a base
of technical standards and interfaces for the data-use has to be developed
in order to ensure resilient data sampling methods. Time will show, if
this could be the European INSPIRE directive, or if more decentralised
developments form the OGC could be more promising. Some spatial
databases are still very fragmented at the moment, but upcoming standards
in the rising feld of spatial data usage, like Google Earth kml/kmz-fles for
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 281
example, could show where the development could go in a short period
of time. Tere should be the ability to integrate data from other servers
as well via (web map service, web feature service), no matter if the data is
private or public. When it comes to the point of embedding the web 2.0
and the ongoing developments in the GeoWeb, it is important to build
a fexible construction in order to react on actual developments. A long
planned and fxed All-Inclusive-solution will not be as successful as a step-
step-solution on the long term. It is rather important, to have the ability
to embed existing communities than to create a new one, which would be
sentenced to fail. Tere will be no blueprint to create a cross-border portal
which helps for the integration in the region, however with a sophisticated
approach, it could a help to overcome the barriers from previous times and
may aim to create a common spirit.
Te question was raised, if cross-border cooperation and integration could
be achieved by the use of new media. Tere is a potential for that, though
it is complex task which requires a fexible and multidimensional solution,
even already for the comparatively small study case of the commercial zone
monitoring system of the Eurodistrict SaarMoselle. Communities like
facebook, fickr etc. dont know borders and their crowd-sourcing attitude
could be used to raise the acceptance on the part of the population. At
least it will be interesting to observe as well the diferences between the
requirements for administrative and social integration.
Te portal to manage the cross-border commercial zones is just a frst step on
a way with many difculties and hurdles. However, it is a working tool and
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 282
a frst step, which could be used by German and French partners to work on
common projects and may lead to further comprehensive solutions. When
it comes to developments in terms of new media in the internet, one of
their characteristics are, that there are mostly standardized and ofen have
a big cross-border acceptance and a high degree of popularity like facebook
for example. Tey are already ofen working cross-border, and they could
boost cross-border integration. Tus, Geoportals combined with the
integration of communities could be run also under diferent ideas, like for
example tourism issues or comprehensive spatial planning. Networks from
a technical perspective and networks from a human perspective could
enrich each other reciprocally and activate endogenous potentials. Te
fundament for such a development is a strong connection with location-
based communities and of course mobile availability of them.
Questions like the missing standards in terms of sofware and origin data
and diferent administrative levels just for a small project has to be solved.
Te possible successor of a more complex portal will raise other questions
as well, like for example data management and data privacy. In particular
the question, what kind of data is public data and what is the intention
of the project partners. Te more the data is organized decentralised
with the principles of subsidiarity, the higher is the risk to create data
cemeteries and redundancy. A tourism-portal for example could be open
for everyone. Te people who wants to insert new data, share his opinion
with others or in general wants to communicate with other users about
their cross-border region, this could be one step to create and strengthen a
cross-border consciousness. Furthermore, these new collected data is not
only useful for an interested user who wants to inform himself, but also
for the planner. Depending on the ofering of the portal, he could develop
new strategies for up to now unknown problems. If fallow land and empty
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 283
sites are integrated in the portal, the planner could analyse the actual stock
and compare it with the population development to adjust his further
planning. An expanded portal could be useful for both the planner (spatial
data) and the citizen (information and communication). Due to the fact,
that computers, internet and social networks are getting more and more
ubiquitous in peoples life, so their potential to solve such tasks has to be
used. Integration on an European scale shall show, that diferences arent
that big on the other side of the border common work and a common
platform could show, how this work and integration may develop with
the new possibilities of technology and media. Tis is the point, where
such a portal could act as an interface between the administrative (local
authorities) and social (inhabitants) level. Te intention is to strengthen
the idea of one cross-border region both in peoples and governmental
heads. To push forward and maintain this integration is task of spatial and
urban planners.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 284
Eurodistrict SaarMoselle. 2008. Die Region, Eurodistrict SaarMoselle,
[online] Available at <http://www.saarmoselle.org/page409-
389-die-region.html> [Accessed 22 August 2010].
European Commission.2000. Schlussfolgerung des Vorsitzes Leipzig Charta zur
nachhaltigen europischen Stadt European Parliament, [online] Available at
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/summits/lis1_de.htm [Accessed 22 August 2010].
Google Inc. Google Maps. 2010. Google Maps [online] Available
at http://maps.google.de [Accessed 22 September 2010].
Guhse, B. 2005. Kommunales Flchenmonitoring und
Flchenmanagement. Heidelberg: Wichmann Verlag.
Microsof Cooperation. 2010. Bing Maps [online] Available at
http://www.bing.com/maps [Accessed 22 August 2010].
Open Source Geospatial Foundation 2010. Open Layers [online]
Available at http://openlayers.org [Accessed 22 August2010].
OReilly, T. 2005. What is Web 2.0? [online] Available at
http://www.oreilly.de/artikel/web20.html [Accessed 22 August2010].
Streich, B. 2005. Stadtplanung in der Wissensgesellschaf. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 285
The Mythological City
Peter Wendl
Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg:
chair of graphic design & visual communication
Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg:
department of sculptural and interdisciplinary working methods
Urban Research Institute / forschungsgruppe_f
www.adbk-nuernberg.de, www.urban-research-institute.org,
I. To live in a cave: an introduction
In his study Arbeit am Mythos Hans Blumenberg defnes the
human being as an entity that tries to escape the absolutism of reality
(Blumenberg, 2006, p.10), i.e. the powerlessness of the prescient human
being agains the force of nature (e.g. thunder-storm, feriness, disease).
Te human being uses all conceivable means to fght the absolutism of
reality by searching for explanations for unexplainable things: the human
being searches for Erklrungen fr das Unerklrliche, () Benennungen
fr das Unnennbare (Blumenberg, 2006, p.11). Tey produce myths to
make their chaotic environment more liveable. Myths are a prescientifc
rationalization of reality because they produce tales and images. Due to
these images the human being creates the ability to dissociate itself from the
immediacy of reality. From Blumenbergs point of view, the retreat of early
humans into caves and the invention of cave paintings is an manifestation
of this behaviour (fg. 1) (Blumenberg, 2006, p.16).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 286
By inventing myths mankind also invented media, which can be used as a
shock absorber between mankind and the immediacy of the world. Media
is not only a concept that has the function of a safeguard against the outer
world, but provides also an interface, a facilitator that ofers a window to
the world and makes a controlled communication possible (Galloway,
From this point of view our cities appear as a contemporary transformation
of the Stone Age caves. Caves show the following symptoms (caves, villages
and cities have in common): frstly, all these sites were and still are
refugiums and panic rooms of mankind. Secondly, all these sites seem
to inevitably provoke humans to produce signs and images, not only in
written form (the frst writings of mankind were done in the frst cities,
founded by the Sumerian)(Watson, 2005). In fact, these signs and images
manifest themselves directly in space. As a result, they are constantly visible.
Space only becomes cultured if it possesses signs (Peirce, CP 2.275). Space,
which possesses no signs, stays wild. Te human being produces signs to
distinguish cultured space and to delimit it from the wilderness (fg 2).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 287
fg. 1: To live in a cave I / Paintings in the Caves
fg. 2: To live in a cave II / Paintings in a public toilet
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 288
Trafc signs and road signs satisfy the desire of humans for a rationalized
order of space. All the other signs we produce (like grafti or advertising)
do not provide a logical order of space. Tey cover the environment with
a mythologizing interface, Tis also allows a more distanced point of view.
Moreover, it reveals the hidden laws of space not in a rational and logical
manner but annotates it in a more associative way.
Since 2007, Sao Paolo is the only city in the world which bans advertisings
in urban space by law (fg. 3). Revealingly, in Sao Paolo you can see more
grafti than in every other city in the world (, 2009) (fg. 4).
Images and signs which are put in public space in addition to the logical
information (trafc signs, road signs, maps) seem to be an evidence of the
need of human beings for a mythological prescientifc and pre-rational
order of space. It seems that the human being is not satisfed with a purely
logical information system, which is implanted in space. Apparently, the
human being needs other resources to oppose absolutism of reality. Even
the so-called modern human being goes back to the instrument of creating
myths. Roland Barthes particularly remarks that even photography,
flm or advertising can embody myths (Barthes, 1964). In addition to
that he states that the important message of a myth is basically not the
content communicated but the way in which it is communicated: Da
der Mythos eine Aussage ist, kann alles, wovon ein Diskurs Rechenschaf
ablegen kann, Mythos werden. Der Mythos wird nicht durch das Objekt
seiner Botschaf defniert, sondern durch die Art und Weise, wie er diese
ausspricht. (Barthes, 1964, p. 85). McLuhan transfers this argument to
media in general (McLuhan, 1967). Myths have to communicate with us.
As well as cave paintings and Christian Myths (fg. 5), also contemporary
signs and images which are put into urban spaces serve this need: they
speak to us, weather we want to or not (fg. 6).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 289
fg. 3: Lack of information / Banned Advertising in Sao Paolo
fg. 4: Glut of information / Pixao in Sao Paolo
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 290
fg. 5: Divine Interface I / Detail of the Sistine Madonna by Rafaello Sanzio, 1514.
fg. 6: Divine Interface II / Hot Wheels, 2010.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 291
Te signifcantly formal coherence between fgure 5 and 6 points to
their common idea: the main message in these fgures in not Believe!
respectively Buy!. Te main message in both examples is: something
is looking at you and it is located in a higher dimension. Both pictures
communicate that there is a superior power which cannot be explained in
a rational way. By producing such messages, the human being embeds itself
into a bigger context, which makes the environment more reliable.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 292
II Contexts
Te human being is a Homo Pictor ( Jonas, 1994). It customizes his
environment to his needs and desires by leaving sings and icons. Hans
Jonas says that this skill marks a anthropological border: Not an animal
intervened at that place, where I can see this sign, it must have been a
human being. As a result, the Homo Pictor transformed a natural state
into a artifcial state (Mittelstra, 2004, p.961) and documented his own
presence in space. Jonas states that only this conversion from nature to
culture makes the human being a human being. As a result, it is possible
to difer between human being and animal respectively human being and
nature. Te Homo Pictor marks his space with signs and icons and delimits
it from the space of nature, wilderness and the non-denoted etc. (fg. 7 to 9).
fg. 7: Assault of the symbols, Surrender of Nature / Te Eagle Awards, 2010.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 293
fg. 8: Expansion of the symbols, Repression of Nature /
Art Farm, Wim Delvoye, 2010.
fg. 9: Retreat of the symbols, Regeneration of Nature / WMF, 2010.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 294
Initially this distinction happens by chance. First and foremost, signs are
temporary communicators, which have their right to exist as the only
connection between transmitter and receiver. Space which is permanently
occupied by signs is only generated as a secondary efect of communication.
But we have to assume that this side efect is not completely irrelevant to the
human being. Otherwise we could not satisfactorily explain why we dont
clear up the space and remove all those signs that we dont need for our
communication processes any more. Why does the Homo Communicator
(Baacke, 1973) not get rid of his signs?
1. Native language
Tere is no doubt about the question why we dont remove trafc signs
or navigations systems every day and just put them into space when they
are needed for someones guidance. Tey behave like institutions, which
are inscribed into space (Lw, 2000) and regulate social processes. It
would be irrational if we redeveloped all these signs again and again. We
need them too ofen. In addition to that, they are set out to be generally
understandable, everywhere and every time. We could describe them as the
logical symbol systems or the native-language sign systems of our societies
because they always communicate meaningfully and understandably.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 295
2. Foreign language
But how about all the other signs, which we produce in our environment?
Tere are Grafti on walls, writings on toilets, stickers on glass panes,
posters on advertising collums?
Firstly, these signs mostly dont conduce to pure information and they
dont form a coherent and universally understandable language like trafc
signs in a city. In fact, these signs are not organised, but arise anarchically
and belong to diferent control systems which are not universaly
understandable but merely comprehensible in isolated social units.
Secondly, these signs dont make sense as institutions which permanently
mark the public space: on the whole, they dont regulate social processes.
Undoubtedly, unique symbols, which only small groups can understand,
can nevertheless have regulative functions (e.g. Hobo codes from migratory
workers). But in consideration of the fact that insiders always belong to the
minority, we have to ask the question: what do these non-universal symbol
systems mean to those who dont belong to the circle of insiders? How
does a society handle these foreign symbol systems? How can we lead back
all those signs to a convincing and coherent meaning? We could describe
them as the mythological symbol systems of our society.
3. Obscure contexts
How can we difer between logical and mythological symbol systems?
Information can only be logically decoded, if we know about its particular
context, in addition to the information itself.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 296
On the one hand, we should be aware of the specifc code of the
information in a semiotical sense. On the other hand, we should know
about the punctuation (signifcation of the information within the
whole communication process) in a sense of the communication process.
Furthermore, we should care about both transmitter and receiver of the
information. To turn the argument on its head: if we dont know enough
about the context of information, its message enters the territory of the
4. Obscure encoding: territorial marking
Public space, seen as a media for communicative expressions, is ambivalent:
although information points at an individual, it is nevertheless apparent
for others. Terefore, we can notice two diferent strategies to channel
First, encryption of the entire message. As a consequence, only a defned
audience will be able to decrypt the information. All the other recipients
wont be able to decode it. Nevertheless, we know that the information is
not addressed to them (fg. 10 and 11).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 297
fg. 10: Territorial marking by a Piru Killer (PK), a Latin Style Killer
(LSK) and a Nigger Killer (NK) / Gang grafto in Los Angeles, 2010.
fg 11. Territorial marking by non-transient twittering / Singing Blackbird, 2007.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 298
5. Obscure punctuation: babes & strangers
Te second strategy is, to transfer small packages of unencrypted
information, which are isolated from their context. Te entire context
itself is only known by insiders. In turn, other recipients which are not
meant to be addressed are able to read the single information packages but
do not understand the message, because of the missing links. Te excluded
recipient does potentially not realize that the information is actually not
addressed to him, while he is receiving those signals. As a consequence, he
perhaps takes the message as referring to himself (fg. 12 and 13).
6. Obscure Transmitter: Words of God
Signs serve the needs of direct communication, adjourned communication
or permanent communication between transmitter and receiver.
Depending on the particular latency period between the moment of
broadcast and the moment of reception, diferent types of media have to
be used. Nevertheless, signs ofen outlast their intended life expectancy.
As mentioned above, visible signs mark the human space. In addition to
that, those signs, which outlast their own intended lifespan, sediment the
human space and charge it with anachronistic meanings. Signs of former
communication processes are not merely passive hints from the past (like a
footprint). In fact, they are active voices, which talk to us about incidents
that are not up to date anymore. If signs outlast the latency period of
the communication they belong to, they get rid of their own origin and
context. Tey become signs which have forgotten their own transmitter. If
a physically and logically allegeable emitter instance is missing, we displace
the source of information to a metaphysical place. Tese signs become
words of god. Examples of mythological sign production similar in kind
are numerous.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 299
fg. 12: Rude but Cute! Should I call her? Perhaps
shes already 32! / Wim Delvoye, 2000.
fg. 13: Pick you up in 1 hour But mother always
told me not to go with strangers. / Fiat, 2010.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 300
7. Obscure Recipient
How about signs which indeed have an emitter, but are not addressed
to a specifed recipient? At frst sight, a missing recipient seams to
not be as productive for us as a missing transmitter. At least, signs that
have disengaged themselves from their emitter have essentially made
a contribution to the development of religions. Furthermore, it is quite
normal that a human being is talking to himself, without addressing his
words to a specifed counterpart. However, we have to ask the question
why we are actually doing that? Does this form of communication have
any efect and does it make any sense? Obviously, a contingently efect
can only afect the emitter, due to the fact that nobody else is involved
to the communication process. A human being, who is talking to himself
is potentially broadcasting sensible signs, but he already knows their
meaning. Tat is why we usually have to categorise this communication
as absurd. Initially, signs that have no specifed receiver, come to nothing.
Nevertheless, we produce signs without addressing them to an available
recipient over and over: the message in a bottle, the house blessing (fg.
14) or the Golden Record, which the NASA launched to the universe in
1977 (fg. 15).
fg. 14: House blessing / Religious message in a bottle to a divine recipient.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 301
fg. 15: Te Golden Record / Cosmic message in a bottle to a alien recipient.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 302
Why are we doing that? It seems to be absurd, to spill signs like milk that
have no specifed receiver. Just as a usual prayer, the conventional message
in a bottle and the unconventional Golden Record are metaphysical
information transfers which dislocate the reception of the information
along the space axis and time axis potentially ad infnitum. By consciously
displacing the receiver into the dark even into the netherworld, a ordinary
cybernetic model of communication becomes practically impossible. If
we get feedback anyhow, we are irritated. We are not prepared for that,
because we would not have expected an answer or we would no longer
have expected it. In any case, an imminent answer is defnitely impossible.
Nevertheless, the message in a bottle and the Golden Record do make sense
for us, even though the answer is obscure. Te appreciation for this form of
communication is not describable as a successful information transfer to a
recipient that potentially does not exist. It does also not fail because of the
missing response. If it were like that, we would have quit that long ago. Just
as the signs that miss their emitter, we can not logically decode those signs
that miss their recipient. Tey can only be decrypted, if they are not only
seen as occasional relicts of human communication and if we admit that
the spatialization of signs has its own meaning, which exceeds the intrinsic
semiological meaning of the signs and produces a secondary semiological
system (Barthes, 1964). For producing such superordinate symbol systems,
it is required that a seemingly meaningless communication lasts as a
document and makes the signs available for others as an evidence of the
communication process. Tis assures that the efects of the signs do not
disappear without a trace but have infuence on ensuing ages.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 303
8. Odds and Ends
Te production of this secondary semiological system proceeds in two
steps: logical communication turns into communication without context.
In a debris of messages, coming from the dark and going into the dark,
nevertheless not disappearing, but lasting as documents. Afer that, the
Homo Communicator uses those messages to create his own mythology
and makes himself to a Homo Crditris: Te originality of mythic
thinking is, as the bricolage in a practical sense, the fact that we produce
structured entities, not directly by means of other structured entities, but
by using odds and ends [], fossil vouchers of history, of an individual or a
society. (Levi-Strauss, 1973, p. 35). By means of the bricolage, the human
being constructs own explanatory models by producing own myths, where
an entire coherence is missing. Te amateur even uses the fund of existing
myths for creating his new ones. As a consequence, diferent mythologies do
not independently generate origin funds of symbols. Similarities between
early Sumerian writings, the Gilgamesch epos or the Hebrew bible vouch
for that (Watson, 2005). Te symbol of the all-seeing eye also still appears
under the same circumstances in most varied pictorial universes (fg. 16).
Both similarities of content (the omnipresent gaze) and style (Horus type,
hand type, fying eye type, triangle) are obvious.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 304
Fig. 16: The omnipresent gaze. Egyptian iconography: Horus (a), Arabian iconography: Nazar (b)
and Fatima (c), Christian iconography: God Father (d) and Trinity (e), heraldry: Leon Battista
Alberti (I), iconography oI world conspiracy: United States one dollar bill (g), esoteric iconography:
Hubble Helix Nebula (h), nautical iconography: AIDA cruiser (i), graIIiti iconography: Kripoe (k)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 305
Fig. 16: Te omnipresent gaze. Egyptian iconography: Horus (a), Arabian
iconography: Nazar (b) and Fatima (c), Christian iconography: God Father (d) and
Trinity (e), heraldry: Leon Battista Alberti ( f ), iconography of world conspiracy:
United States one dollar bill (g), esoteric iconography: Hubble Helix Nebula
(h), nautical iconography: AIDA cruiser (i), grafti iconography: Kripoe (k).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 306
III. The mythological city
Te logical symbol systems of our cities, which I mentioned above,
fnd strong competitors in mythological signs. Tey push into still
unoccupied space: in Galata, a traditional business district in Istanbul,
grafti characteristically limits itself to the ground level rolling shutters of
shops. Tese roller shutters go down in front of elaborate displays of the
showcases (fg. 17) afer closing time. During the day the business districts
of Istanbul are littered with sings and symbols. Every imaginable corner
or reachable height is occupied to display the products on ofer. At night,
countless products disappear behind voiceless roller shutters without a
trace. What remains is a lack of information, ofering space for new signs,
virtually provoking their appearance. In Galata it is quite ordinary that
sprayers unhurriedly leave their Grafti on closed roller shutters next to
cafes and bars which are still opened in the early evening. Tey dont have
to fear to be accused of vandalism (fg. 18).
Kripoe, a sprayer, whose grafti are well known in Berlin, systematically
sprayed almost every roller shutter with his signifcant eye and bone
symbols in the high street of Galata, even in the side alleys. Tis cannot be
described as an undercover mission any more, which suddenly happened
in the dead of the night. Te result is too big and obvious. Nobody seems
to be bothered about that.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 307
fg 17: Allurement: products on ofer in Galata, a
traditional business district of Istanbul. 2010.
fg. 18: Greed: takeover of the lack of information by a grafto in Galata. 2010.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 308
1. Fictions
It is not relevant for the reception of mythological symbol systems of a city
that the emerging signs dont form a coherent system at all, but rather an
occasionally inconsistent formation. Today, the sciences of mythological
studies assume that myths still are part and parcel of human entity, but
are not received as literally true. In fact, todays myths cant (and wont)
disguise their fctional nature (Mittelstra, 2004, p. 953). Terefore,
myths have to be described as a visual allegorical expression of a life form,
which undisappointed has lived up to the intangible, while endeavour
to come to its senses, because we can already regard the efort to see reason
as an aim, which exclusively cannot be missed. (Mittelstra, 2004, p. 953).
Under this circumstances signs that are independent of logically coherent
and directly earmarked symbol systems, have a second meaning: we do
not receive the message in a bottle, the house blessing, the grafto or the
advertising as literally true, but merely as allegorical expression of our
efort to denominate the uncertain and to make it manageable.
2. Dialogues
As shown above, the signs and symbols of our cities can be characterized
by their missing contexts. Because of that, they provide an ideal fund for
a playfully and fctional communication without consequences. A dialog
on the wall of a toilet (fg. 19) does neither have an emitter nor a specifed
receiver. As if by magic, a new story unfolds on the walls because of endless
reactions and answers. Tis story can only be described as a myth. A
dialogue that communicates with itself that arises from of and vanishes
into of.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 309
fg. 19: Self-referential dialogue, coming fom of.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 310
Current developments in advertising show similar tendencies: the
achievements of recent advertising strategies like viral or guerilla advertising
prove that advertising whose context is missing, defnitely afects people.
Advertising gets rid of its own broadcaster, but not to deceive us or to
conceal its own intentions. By disposing of the emitter, advertising also
initially does away with the literal receiver, i.e. the consumer. Just as the
message on the wall of a toilet, advertising with dynamic contexts ofers us
the way to understand and recycle it as stock. Although we are aware of the
fctionality of urban myths (it is interesting that this phrase has established
itself as a term that describes the spread of rumour, which originally were
planted by advertising companies), we do not banish them to the realm of
the forbidden but we admit a dialogue between advertising and us as well
as single messages on the wall of a toilet admit a dialogue between each
other (fg. 20 and 21)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 311
fg. 20: Moot is a dialog / 3m Security Glass, 2009.
fg. 21: Mourning is a dialog / Dexter, 2010
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 312
Te ways to interact within this dialogue are because of the missing
contexts manifold: answering and modifying (Adbusting), afrming
and retelling (Viral), associating and quoting (fg. 22).
fg. 22: Learn to anticipate / Learn to associate
3. Activation of the dialogues
As a conclusion, we can perhaps answer the question, which positive efect
can wrenched from the mythological signs in public space and what we
need grafti and advertising for to symbolically acquire of our environment.
By now, grafti worked hard to equal the status of a contribution to the
culture. But this contribution is restricted even in the grafti research on
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 313
the one hand to a subcultural or individual expression and consequentially
the mechanisms of empathy and on the other hand to a menetekel function
(Institut fr Graftiforuschung, 2002 / Graftiverein, 2009).
Advertising remains to struggle for that status. Te sociological reception
of advertising is beyond critical arguments limited to a indicator
function. Advertising was an indicator for the wishes, needs and interests
of our society (Ernst Primosch, n.d.). But this is not the insight, we
can beneft from. It is rather its intention: advertising is developed to
correspond to our wishes and interests respectively advertising rather
generates them.
Te efects of grafti and advertising are always discussed under the
same circumstances: they are always seen as fossil signs, with which the
archaeologist has to infer to a condition of our society, of a subcultural
movement or of single individuals. At best we can use those interpretations
to anticipate future developments. Advertising and grafti are always seen
as passive endpoints of a discontinued communication process, as signs
without junctions, but never as active voices of a communication, which
is still in progress, i.e. as fragments that we can recycle in our myths that
inscribe themselves into our symbolic systems and modify them. Tese
modifcations necessarily refect themselves in our symbolically adoption
of space. Symbolic systems that are earmarked and have the function to
regulate social processes do not tolerate that. Urban planning, architecture
and art in public space are too idle for that.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 314
ARTE Metropolis 11.2009.
Baacke, Jrgen: Kommunikation und Kompetenz. Mnchen 1973
Barthes, Roland: Mythen des Alltags. Frankfurt a. M. 1964.
Blumenberg, Hans: Arbeit am Mythos, Frankfurt a. M. 2006.
Galloway, Alexander R.: Das mige Interface, Kln 2010.
Graftiverein, Darstellung des Modells der Graftipolygeneses im Kontext
der Bildenden Kunst und ihrer rumlichen Situierung. n.D.
Institut fr Graftiforschung, Grafti-News Nr. 48. 2002.
Jonas, Hans: Homo Pictor. Von der Freiheit des Bildens, in:
Gottfried Boehm (ed.): Was ist ein Bild?, Mnchen 1994.
Levi-Strauss, Claude: Das wilde Denken, Frankfurt a. M. 1973.
Lw, Matina: Raumsoziologie, Frankfurt a. M. 2000.
McLuhan, Marshall: Te Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Efects, 1967.
Mittelstra, Jrgen (ed.): Enzyklopdie / Philosophie
und Wissernschafstheorie, Stuttgart 2004
Peirce, Charles Sanders: CP 2.275.
Watson, Peter: Ideen Eine Kulturgeschichte von der Entdeckung
des Feuers bis zur Moderne, Mnchen 2005.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 315
Atmospheric Commons
Jordan Geiger
Assistant Professor
CAST: Center for Architecture and Situated Technologies
Department of Architecture, University at Bufalo
More even than for the industrial city, the media citys most contested and
vital feld is its palimpsestic atmosphere, its airs rife with overlays. Air in
the city is subject to multiple stakeholders, it hosts multiple publics, and
it suspends an overlay of new invisible, essences: wireless communications
and pollutions. Both EMF and NOX in the atmosphere today and their
subjugation under technical and legal means reveal urban airs to be felds
under threat of becoming a de facto privatized commons. Tis is the
volatile and feeting stuf of our cities today, and it touches the everyday
actions of individuals just as it is ofen the result of large organizations
of government: conditioning the workday, the commute, cultural identity,
security and onwards.
Tis talk describes some examples through three recent works, projects
that intervene in feeting opportunities at these overlays, each employing
a minimal or transformative materiality, a bounded spatiality, and an
indefnite but terminal temporality. Such are some characteristics of the
new modes of publicity and commonality in the media city.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 316
To begin, we can revisit the notion of the commons, most famously
polemicized in the 20th century by Garrett Hardin in his article, Te
Tragedy of the Commons (1968). Tis important work might best be
summarized in his grim statement that, Ruin is the destination toward
which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that
believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings
ruin to all. Hardins analysis links urbanization and population growth
to the end-game: Using the commons as a cesspool does not harm the
general public under frontier conditions, because there is no public, the
same behavior in a metropolis is unbearable... the commons, if justifable
at all, is justifable only under conditions of low-population density. As the
human population has increased, the commons has had to be abandoned
in one aspect afer another. As world population has since expanded and
urbanized at a brisk clip, it may be not so much a question of morality as
practical necessity and sober consideration of all consequences - cultural,
ecological, economic - to revisit Hardins conclusion under these new,
hyperbolic circumstances. Today, we see the commons - as both public
space and a public discourse - evolving.
Hardins discussion recounts various degradations and abandonments of
the commons against the backdrop of population growth, but today we
recognize both the space and discourses of a commons to appear diferently
and suggestive of diverse responses. Consider the project Public Smog,
by Amy Balkin. Initiated in 2006 and ongoing since, the project is many
things - a website, book, park, legislative action and more. Te project
website is a vast collection of information that both explains and accretes
to form the substance of the project. It includes information on a number
of eforts to list extra-state spaces as UNESCO World Heritage sites,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 317
including the Moon itself. As Balkin puts it:
PUBLIC SMOG is a park in the atmosphere that fuctuates in location and
scale...Activities to create Public Smog have included purchasing and retiring
emission ofsets in regulated emissions markets, making them inaccessible to
polluting industries... When Public Smog is built through this process, it exists
in the unfxed public airspace above the region where ofsets are purchased and
withheld fom use.
Other activities to create Public Smog impact the size, location, and duration
of the park. Tese activities include an attempt tosubmit Earths atmosphere
for inscription on UNESCOs World Heritage List.Any state that has signed
the World Heritage Convention and wants to support a World Heritage
submission to the Tentative List - acting as State Party in presenting a
nomination fle on behalf of Earths atmosphere - should contact this website.
Conceiving the Earth atmosphere as a commons, Balkin uses the project
as a means of exposing inequities within industrial emissions trading
and of asserting a way to subvert emissions trading for the creation of an
atmospheric commons above Earth. Much of the artwork is expository,
explaining its process, its legal, economic and scientifc underpinnings for
a general public. It also contains various accounts of its making, including
Balkins eforts to purchase ofsets through the clandestine help of brokers
who were not permitted to sell to individuals.Balkin has pursued Public
Smog in several diferent countries, each with their own emissions trading
markets and legal structures in place to ensure the exclusive participation
of large commercial concerns. Her advocacy to place Earths atmosphere
on UNESCOs World Heritage List is a natural legal extension of such
eforts, one that draws on a relatively nascent legal commons and refects
back on Hardins own observations of the legal mechanisms of the tragedy.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 318
Three Commons
Within this expanded notion of both the atmosphere (global, supra-
national, high-altitude) and of the commons (global, supra-national,
highly contested), specifc local spatial and temporal instances emerge,
events that crystalize the risks and opportunities of the atmospheric
commons today. Tese also show how the presence of embedded electronics
participate in this evolving commons. Tree recent works of mine have
considered local events in the city as sites for design intervention, and the
creation of a suspended atmospheric commons. Tat is to say, these are
situations within which the terms at play are loosened to enable awareness
of and engagement with the increasingly saturated atmospheric commons.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 319
Flash Plazas
Tis recent public artwork proposed as a temporary intervention in Berlin
was part of a call for projects sponsored by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt
in 2010, towards their ber Lebenskunst programming. Organizers
sought contributions of any sort to think past technological greening
solutions towards social practices that considered a fusion of everyday
life and art practice, framed by issues of survival (hence the titles pun).
Contributors were asked to imagine what one would do with a 25th
hour in the day.
Te Flash Plazas proposal imagines the addition of a 25th hour in the day
as a time out, as in sports - time inserted into the limits of a games clock.
Tis is both the time and the space of fash plazas, abruptly created public
spaces that look past greening solutions to social practices that enable
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 320
individual agency - in the work day, in our neighborhood, and in the
health efects of trafc, of work and of electromagnetic frequency (EMF)
radiation on our bodies.
In the project, four small vans - mobile bollards - close street intersections,
each for one workday hour at a time. For that hour, they redirect automotive
trafc, provide street benches and disrupt EMF to that outdoor area with a
metal net that stretches between the vans, acts as a weak Faraday cage, and
provides shade. Tese mobile bollards, ironically, respond to a critical mass
of requests from neighbors using a web interface - community seeking a
break from online interaction, and seeking one another, in the street.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 321
Site 13:
Unnamed (QC 138 - NY 30)
N 59 31.680 W 74 18.483
Site 14:
Unnamed (QC 219 - NY 22)
N 0 16.100 W 73 36.167
Site 15:
BIackpooI Border Crossing
N 0 31.540 W 73 27.133
Site 16:
Unnamed (QC 221 - NY 276)
N 0 35.380 W 73 24.000
Site 17:
Unnamed (QC 225 - VT 225)
N 0 41.600 W 73 17.783
Site 18:
Unnamed (QC 133 - I-89)
N 0 53.720 W 73 05.083
Site 19:
Unnamed (VaIIe-Missisquoi GIen Sutton)
N 0 41.980 W 72 35.250
Site 20:
Unnamed (QC 143 - US 5)
N 0 19.860 W 72 05.950
Site 21:
Unnamed (QC 253 - VT 253)
N 0 48.090 W 71 30.300
Site 22:
Armstrong-Jackman Border Crossing
N 48 21.630 W 70 23.833
Site 23:
Unnamed (Rue des MouIins - Boise Cascade)
N 32 44.100 W 70 01.733
Site 24:
Unnamed (Rang de Ia Frontiere - Frontier Rd)
N 26 58.700 W 69 14.083
Site 7:
Peace Bridge
N 54 24.900 W 78 54.350
Site 8:
Rainbow Bridge
N 5 24.620 W 79 04.050
Site 9:
Lewiston Queenston Bridge
N 9 10.830 W 79 02.667
Site 10:
Thousand IsIands Bridge
N 20 50.270 W 75 59.000
Site 11:
Prescott Ogdenburg InternationaI Bridge
N 44 00.180 W 75 27.483
Site 12:
Seaway InternationaI Bridge
N 59 25.940 W 74 44.367
Site 2:
Pigeon River Bridge
N 0 05.180 W 89 35.100
Site 3:
SauIt Ste. Marie InternationaI Bridge
N 30 30.360 W 84 21.633
Site 4:
BIue Water Bridge
N 59 55.320 W 82 25.400
Site 5:
Detroit-Windsor TunneI
N 9 23.550 W 83 02.450
Site 6:
Ambassador Bridge
N 18 42.530 W 83 04.433
Site 1:
Fort Frances InternationaI FaIIs Bridge
N 36 26.610 W 93 24.083
USA/ Canadian Customs Stations:
RecIaimabIe Land Area
RFID toll crossings and national pass control stations are last centurys
familiar polyps in road development, the ubiquitous spots where two lanes
expand to ten. Inverse diagrams of automotive speed on the ground, these
add up to surprisingly vast tracts of sacrifcial lands at the gateways of cities
and, indeed, of nations. Yet thanks to the gradual introduction of radio
frequency identifcation (RFID) tags, Nexus Cards and other electronics
for toll payment and border services, these lands are now open to being
rethought. Teir redevelopment can open potential for new bi-national
zones, new forms of land use for new kinds of public interaction. Tese
sites - each a hybrid architectural/landscape object enabled by a sensory
and database infrastructure - are suggestive of new forms of public space
that might gradually replace them.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 322
Tese crossings are not only the familiar convergence of diverse personal
data such as banking records, automotive registration and law enforcement
info. A driver entering also identifes mentally as a bridge-and-tunnel
commuter; and carries a personal role in the citys air quality. Te toll
plaza is more than just the locus of physical entry and data transfer, but
of cultural and environmental events too. With the growth of RFID use,
toll booths are growing obsolete. But just as RFID transponders obviate
tollbooths, RFIDs themselves may soon vanish too: in Germany, truckers
are already charged perpetually, by kilometer, via GPS.
Such changes promise the end of toll plazas in cities like New York, and
the emergence of enormous polyps of available land for redevelopment,
all strategically placed at the gateways to the city. Tese will form an
archipelago of lands needing consideration as public spaces and potential
sites for air quality remediation works.
Boundaries to the city will no longer be about the toll plazas as gateways
(points); nor about many smaller zones within downtowns (felds, as
in congestion trafc pricing); but rather about perpetual sensing in our
streets (lines, or perhaps meshes). Tis perpetuity, this duration, touches
all issues at play here: movement, banking records, ecological fallout, and
place-based identity. Archipelagos is a study of land use redevelopment
of these areas, toward the creation of new public spaces integrating the
dynamics and forms of interaction found at the sites of old toll plazas.
Customs crossings along the Great Lakes region are the subject of a recent
portion of this study, resulting in drawings that show an inventory of
existing customs stations, a unique chain of land / water zones along the
US-Canada border, their physical makeup, trafc load, and emissions from
idling engines. Land areas at the largest twenty-four sites around the Great
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 323
Lakes alone total 2903.85 acres, or over 4.5 square miles. By comparison,
this is over one-tenth the land area of Bufalo, New York (40.6 square miles).
It also dwarfs some of North Americas largest urban parks (Torontos High
Park is 398 acres, Central Park is 843 acres, Bostons Emerald Necklace is
1100 acres, and San Franciscos Golden Gate Park is 1017 acres, to name
a few). Viewed together as a dispersed asset, these amount in scale to the
land area equivalent of a vast park or a small border town.
Site 13:
Unnamed (QC 138 - NY 30)
N 59 31.680 W 74 18.483
Site 14:
Unnamed (QC 219 - NY 22)
N 0 16.100 W 73 36.167
Site 15:
BIackpooI Border Crossing
N 0 31.540 W 73 27.133
Site 16:
Unnamed (QC 221 - NY 276)
N 0 35.380 W 73 24.000
Site 17:
Unnamed (QC 225 - VT 225)
N 0 41.600 W 73 17.783
Site 18:
Unnamed (QC 133 - I-89)
N 0 53.720 W 73 05.083
Site 19:
Unnamed (VaIIe-Missisquoi GIen Sutton)
N 0 41.980 W 72 35.250
Site 20:
Unnamed (QC 143 - US 5)
N 0 19.860 W 72 05.950
Site 21:
Unnamed (QC 253 - VT 253)
N 0 48.090 W 71 30.300
Site 22:
Armstrong-Jackman Border Crossing
N 48 21.630 W 70 23.833
Site 23:
Unnamed (Rue des MouIins - Boise Cascade)
N 32 44.100 W 70 01.733
Site 24:
Unnamed (Rang de Ia Frontiere - Frontier Rd)
N 26 58.700 W 69 14.083
Site 7:
Peace Bridge
N 54 24.900 W 78 54.350
Site 8:
Rainbow Bridge
N 5 24.620 W 79 04.050
Site 9:
Lewiston Queenston Bridge
N 9 10.830 W 79 02.667
Site 10:
Thousand IsIands Bridge
N 20 50.270 W 75 59.000
Site 11:
Prescott Ogdenburg InternationaI Bridge
N 44 00.180 W 75 27.483
Site 12:
Seaway InternationaI Bridge
N 59 25.940 W 74 44.367
Site 2:
Pigeon River Bridge
N 0 05.180 W 89 35.100
Site 3:
SauIt Ste. Marie InternationaI Bridge
N 30 30.360 W 84 21.633
Site 4:
BIue Water Bridge
N 59 55.320 W 82 25.400
Site 5:
Detroit-Windsor TunneI
N 9 23.550 W 83 02.450
Site 6:
Ambassador Bridge
N 18 42.530 W 83 04.433
Site 1:
Fort Frances InternationaI FaIIs Bridge
N 36 26.610 W 93 24.083
Area (Canadian):
217679 sq ft
Area (American):
517792 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
1964070 sq ft
Area (American):
1508043 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
618260 sq ft
Area (American):
1529092 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
9265028 sq ft
Area (American):
10658280 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
1457628 sq ft
Area (American):
1104193 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
5076095 sq ft
Area (American):
11035125 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
12612099 sq ft
Area (American):
6139763 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
1073565 sq ft
Area (American):
1281131 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
6261300 sq ft
Area (American):
8243977 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
2221371 sq ft
Area (American):
4850286 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
5292397 sq ft
Area (American):
5940089 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
4454500 sq ft
Area (American):
1127622 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
293167 sq ft
Area (American):
116994 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
79359 sq ft
Area (American):
227383 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
4683657 sq ft
Area (American):
5184619 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
1425121 sq ft
Area (American):
1948129 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
191219 sq ft
Area (American):
299885 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
3271983 sq ft
Area (American):
2908066 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
134885 sq ft
Area (American):
147193 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
2040150 sq ft
Area (American):
934622 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
299870 sq ft
Area (American):
231418 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
912519 sq ft
Area (American):
328377 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
136298 sq ft
Area (American):
111849 sq ft
Area (Canadian):
-sq ft
Area (American):
102240 sq ft
RecIaimabIe Land Area:
USA/ Canadian Customs Stations
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 324
Regulate [EMF/EMP]
Regulate [EMF/EMP] is a courtyard installation for an outdoor sculpture
space in New York City. Composed of a complex net structure that touches
and runs down the sides of the courtyards outer walls, the installation
defnes multiple nodes where the net gathers and concentrates, gradually
to the point that its density disrupts EMF signal from the outside. At
each node, visitors are drawn to a diferent aberration in the otherwise
featureless abstract rectangle of space: a radio, a heat source in the winter,
an interior court. Each of these nodes draw visitors toward them, though
they cannot be physically occupied. Te spatial result is both a boxy
object and an inhabitable void of space, in which signal is caged out but
an occupant is caged in.Te project responds to growing online banter
around fears of domestic and foreign threats in the air, and how to regulate
them. Some of the debates regard EMFs unknown health consequences
(a domestic threat, created through the proliferation of mobile computing
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 325
devices and wireless networks), while others come from the small industry
and community concerned with protection against an electromagnetic
pulse terrorist attack (EMP). An EMP attack, some worry, is an imminent
danger to the United States, and would cripple all life services and economy
as it would render all electronic devices nonfunctional.
Tis larger concern of the work joins these perceived domestic and
foreign public health concerns found in electromagnetic frequency
disturbances. But the work is also specifc to some of the physical and cultural
contexts of SculptureCenter, the exhibition venue. Two such contexts are
SculptureCenters entry procession and its historic relationship to sound
sculpture. In the spatial and programmatic functioning of SculptureCenter,
the courtyard behaves as a bufer from the street, a dislocation in time,
space and in its quiet geometric and material break from the street. Here,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 326
its boxy space is rendered more like a minimal object with the lacey lid,
even as its linear path is broken with three nodes. While the making of
this is all reliant on recent techniques in computer modeling, they are here
employed to reveal and let visitors manipulate the invisible forces present,
rather than to create a formal spectacles as an end unto itself. For example,
the central node is marked by a hearth: a heat source beneath a hole in
the net. Around this hole is a dense area of net that protects visitors who
gather and may meet at the heat. But as a sensor detects increased signal
use at this node, the donut hole expands on a small motor. Te radio near
the door to the galleries is a paradoxical presence. Protected from an EMP
attack, it can endlessly function but raises the question of what it would
play without broadcast infrastructure.
Tese works consider are obliged to acknowledge examples like the
Electro-Sensitives conceived by Dunne and Raby (2001) as crucial
precursors, but also as symptomatic of larger scale responses, wherein
interaction involves an inherently social, material and architectural
context. In each of these, the identity and vicissitudes of the atmospheric
commons - its legal, spatial, cultural and other characteristics - reveal
themselves to be highly place-specifc, locally-negotiated, situated.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 327
Hardin, Garrett. Science 13 December 1968: Vol. 162. no. 3859, pp. 1243 - 1248
Balkin, Amy. http://publicsmog.org/ [Accessed 26 September 2010]
Dunne, Anthony and Raby, Fiona. Design noir: Te Secret Life of Electronic
Objects, August/Birkhauser, London/Basel. 2001. Electro-Sensitives, pp. 39-43
Electromagnetic Pulse Protection:
EMP Protection: When Shit Hits the Fanhttp://www.whenshtf.com/
showthread.php?1373-EMP-Protection [Accessed 26 September 2010]
EMF-Less http://www.lessemf.com/ [Accessed 26 September 2010]
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 328
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 329
Sensing Digital Identity
and Stimulating Digital Co-Presence
An Exploration of Digital Identity and the
Application of this Concept Via a Virtual Pinboard
Eleni Sotiriou, Marco Krechel, Hugo Loureiro,
Madhav Kidao, Paul Goodship
Te Bartlett, UCL
eleni.sotiriou.09@ucl.ac.uk, marco.krechel.09@ucl.ac.uk,
hugo.loureiro.09@ucl.ac.uk, madhav.kidao.09@ucl.ac.uk,
Tis paper illustrates the development and fndings of an interactive
installation implemented by a team from University College London.
Te installation takes the form of a digital pin board allowing users with
Bluetooth capability to leave messages for one another within a public
domain. Each user represented a specifc yet anonymous graphic within
the display and as such the aim was for real conversations and relationships
to form between individual identities. Tis paper sets out to refect
on the ubiquitous and pervasive characteristics of the digital layers in
contemporary society and analyses the results of one possible application
of the Bluetooth technology as a social facilitator. It also draws on our own
experiences in the design and trial of a virtual interface and its implications
in the local Bluetooth networks.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 330
Te notion of a digital identity as the digital representation of an
individual within a virtual community is not a new one. However, with the
increasingly pervasive nature of mobile technologies, as well as the diversity
of their applications, the value of this alternate identity is becoming more
important as it gets increasingly ingrained within our day to day lives. Te
mobile phone with incorporated technologies such as GPS and Bluetooth
is an essential tool to navigate and communicate with or within diferent
communities, creating a wireless interaction space, which enables the
user to transfer data or to communicate with other users in a short range
distance using one technology. Te wireless interaction spaces are mobile,
as they move with the users and can lead to unexpected events. ONeill
et al. defnes interaction spaces as ... spaces that are created by designed
artefacts. Tese spaces defne the physical boundaries within which the
device or artefact is useable. (ONeill et al., 1999).
Te key for the research was to design an interaction space within a public
place to explore the digital identity, created by users of mobile devices.
Terefore we had to implement a tool that would enable us to observe
how people understand the digital space and how they use it in order to
express themselves, communicate and interact. Te aim was to create an
installation that would start an interaction process and would give the
opportunity to the users to better comprehend not only their digital
presence in the hybrid space but also the potential of wireless technologies.
Te general tool is wireless Bluetooth (BT) scanning of mobile devices.
Te customisable name of an enabled Bluetooth device such as mobiles
or notebooks is visualized on a virtual Pin Board that plays the role of a
medium to project peoples presence and enable interactions, towards the
formation of instantaneous virtual communities.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 331
In a frst step the virtual Pin Board acts as a proactive display as it senses
and responds to the physical presence of individuals or groups of people.
In the second step it tries to encourage the attendees to participate, being
physically identifable but due to the use of the technology anonymous,
hidden behind the digital identity.
Aims and objectives
Our research interests were defned around the following four key points:
1. Access to the interaction space
Raise peoples awareness about their digital presence: Are they conscious
of their presence in digital communities?
Usefulness of interaction design in a physical and architectural context:
Do people realize the full potential of pervasive technologies to their lives?
2. Medium
Understanding peoples behaviours in response to a specifc application of
BT mobile technology: Is it possible to engage people to communicate via
digital devices?
Exploring the potentialities of BT technology: How efective is BT
technology on promoting interactions?
3. Communication and interaction with others through the installation
Can communication (in any form, digital or not) and expression be
afected by anonymity? Can it be facilitated if peoples identity is hidden /
protected? Do people express themselves more spontaneously?
4. Environment
How can the nature of space and diferent locations in the same space
infuence or stimulate peoples interactions?
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 332
To fully develop these aims and objectives, we looked at past examples of
interactive urban installations, specifcally focusing on three projects
Gyorol, Loca and txthealing. Each of these projects would enable us to
develop the key points from our research interests.
Gyorol (access key) is a user led interaction game where 2D data matrix
barcode scanning is used as a key to gain access. Tis led us to think about
the way the public accessed interactive urban installations and how this
was achieved successfully (http://gyorol.bascule.co.jp).
Loca (identity) is an artist led interdisciplinary project on mobile media
and surveillance, confronting passersby with intimate knowledge, and is
mostly controlled via BT. Tis helped us to refect on the invasiveness of
digital technology and the negative perception the public can have of it, as
no one knows who is watching (http://www.loca-lab.org).
txthealing (communication) is a performance format that encourages
development of dialog through text messaging from mobile phones. It
allowed us to consider the positive participation that can emerge within
the public when simple and fun interfaces are created with the use of
mobile technology. (http://www.txtualhealing.com)
Figure 01. Information received fom Bluetooth scanning. Tis would
not only be used to create our interface, but also represent the key
points fom our research Access, Identity and Communication
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 333
Tese three projects allowed us to refect on the crucial elements of
interactive urban installations and helped us create the methodology for
our installation.
McDonald et al. summarizes two streams of existing research in the
augmentation of physical social spaces: One stream can be characterized
as wearable or handheld technologies that attempt to facilitate interactions
between people, between people and computers or between people and
artifacts; the other focuses on the use of large displays in shared contexts.
(McDonald et al. 2008). Our aim was to combine both streams in which
the user with his enabled BT device communicates via a large display with
other participants by manipulating his mobile settings. As mentioned by
Rogers and Rodden most shared display applications require direct, explicit
manipulation at or near the display, which may limit peoples willingness to
step up and participate (Rogers and Rodden 2003). Te virtual Pin Board
as a proactive display overcomes this problem by detecting passersby via
their enabled Bluetooth devices, projecting their digital identity on a large
screen in a public space, starting a possible communication.
For the methodology, we drew upon the research methods of a similar
installation in Bath by a team from University College London (Fatah
gen. Schieck et al, 2008). Tis team set up an interactive urban installation
to investigate peoples awareness of their own digital presence and how
they responded when encountering this presence. Te experiment
displayed individuals BT usernames on a large projection and encouraged
participants to respond by changing their BT usernames. It was an
observational study into peoples responses to pervasive technology and
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 334
how it changes the spatial environment and peoples social behaviours.
Tis demonstrated to us how an installation of this type can greatly change
the immediate environment, therefore making micro scale observations
before and during the installation was very important for developing
qualitative research results. Tis was mostly done with conventional
observation techniques and allowed us to continuously develop and
refne our experiments. We also similarly looked at difering locations for
the installation, in order to gain a greater understanding of the type of
location and people needed to encourage interaction with our interface.
By observing past studies like this we were able to build upon their fndings
and results in order to develop a methodology to study our own aims and
Terefore, the four underlining metaphors for our project, that were
previously discussed Access, Medium , Communication and Environment
have been developed to formulate a methodology that draws inspiration
from past examples.
1. Access
Make people aware of their digital presence. It is important to us that the
public is aware of their presence in a digital space, therefore allowing them
the choice to enter a digital space, or not.
2. Medium
Create a semi-controlled installation to understand peoples behaviours in
response to pervasive technology. By allowing the installation to be semi-
controlled, this allows us to experiment with a variety of communicative
methods, giving us a greater understanding of how people engage with
pervasive technology.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 335
3. Communication
Create a Virtual PinBoard to enable anonymous communication and
exchange of information. Tis allows participants to engage with a larger
community, through ubiquitous technology and a public interface.
4. Environment
Develop an understanding of the type of environment that is needed to
enable people to engage with pervasive technology. By understanding
this type of environment before and afer the installations - at a micro-
scale level, this will enable us to better appreciate the impact this type of
technology has on the public.
Tese four underlining metaphors allowed us to structure our development
work and installation to be focused and directed towards our principle
aims and objectives. Whilst, they may have regularly been refned, these
basic metaphors remain constant throughout the project. Bearing in mind
this, the methodological approach to implementing the installation is as
a) Te technology around which we designed the installation was live
BT scanning, which ofers an anonymous pervasive technology and gives
the chance for live interaction. Tis technology is embedded into most
mobile devices and can be scanned using Cityware sofware, installed onto
a laptop. Tis scanning will allow an active dialogue to be formulated
between participants in a digital space.
b) Create a clear and easily understood interface, with simple instructions
to illustrate how participants can engage with the interface. Tis allows
participants to illustrate their digital presence and communicate through
mobile technology, creating an interface where digital identities can engage
publicly with one another.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 336
c) Run qualitative and quantitative studies of the locations, before and
during the experiment, to show how the installation afects space and
peoples behaviour. Tese included systematic observations of activities
in the space, 3D and layout sketches of the space, people watching and,
photographic and video documentation. Tis allowed us to develop an
understanding of the efects that the installation has on the immediate
environment and start to learn how pervasive technology can infuence
the physical environment, as well as the digital one.
d) Develop and test the installation in diferent environments. Tis allows
diferent behaviours connected to each time and place to emerge, since
it will establish the way diferent types of people interact with pervasive
technology and how a diferent time and place can greater afect someones
engagement with this type of technology.
e) Promote the installation. Use leafets to advertise the project and
instruct people how to interact with the interface and send automated BT
messages to people, repeating the initial question on the interface. Tis will
create a greater awareness of the installation and reinforce the instructions
for interacting with it.
f ) Test the installation with passive observation, and then test it with
a more active participatory promotion of it, to compare and contrast
between the two. Tis is designed to create a greater appreciation of the
publics awareness and willingness to engage with the installation and
allows us to better understand the types of scenarios required to entice the
public into exploring their digital presence and environment.
g) Distribute questionnaires to analyse and understand the results from
the installation and collate feedback from participants. Tis allows us to
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 337
qualitatively and quantitatively understand the publics response to the
installation and to draw conclusion upon their reactions.
h) Analyse all data to discuss successes and failures, in relation to the
projects aims and objectives. Tis allowed us to quantify the results and
discuss its implementation and future developments.
Revaluate and Redefine
Troughout the development stages and afer each installation, the
methodology and its implementation was revaluated and redefned in
order to address problems both technical and related to its execution - to
maintain our principle goals. Tis would become a very important element
in our methodology, as throughout the project there were many unknown
elements that could only be established through trial and error. Tis
would include improving the location, enhancing its ease of use, increasing
awareness of the installation, and visually enriching the installation, along
with many other minor improvements.
By continually revaluating and redefning the installation and its
implementation, this gave us the opportunity to constantly refne our aims
and objectives and make them clearer and precise. However, whilst these
aims and objectives persistently became more refned, the basic principles
behind them remained the same, as the metaphors of access, medium,
communication and environment, would remain a constant guide to the
implementation of the project and achieving our principle goals.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 338
Our main aim was to implement a strategy to get people involved in a
procedure that would have as its result the manifestation of the user ID
on screen and a chance for communication with other users through that
screen. Te reactions of people were not predefned and hard-coded to
allow the users creativity to alter or invent new patterns.
Figure 02. Layout of the virtual PinBoard
A script developed in the Processing Language scans and detects BT enabled
phones and laptops. Te individuals device allows access to the local BT
network which translates as visualization on a screen. Each participant is
represented with a bubble foating on the screen displaying his mac address
and the devices username. Te size of the bubbles is customized according
to the size of the username. A question is displayed for some time on the
same screen, with the intention of triggering some response from the
users. Te expected interaction would come by people changing their BT
usernames, in response to the question. BlueMiner sofware was also used
to send out automated BT messages to inform people of the question.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 339
Locations / Context
We looked at two contrasting locations to answer our objectives and to give
us a greater understanding of peoples awareness of pervasive technology.
Tese two locations, where the installation was implemented, were chosen
considering that people would be more willing to socialise. Te frst one
was a student Caf, located inside University College London. It is one of
the busiest and friendliest cafes in UCL, with a continuous fow of people
and a relaxing environment. A Pub in the high street (Tottenham Court
Road) was chosen as a second venue, for being as busy as the frst one
but frequented by working people, customers with very diferent social/
cultural profle.
Figure 03. Plan of the student caf, UCL London indicating
the position of the installation - 1st setup
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First Setup
Te frst setup took place on a Friday during lunchtime. Te location
was the UCL Campus caf, and particularly a small lounge next to the
counter. Te place at frst looked suitable, because it is visible from some
tables around and also, because the installation would attract the attention
of people queuing to order. Our predictions proved to be wrong, frst
because the projection was rather small and could not attract attention
immediately. Moreover, the people who queue obstruct the view of those
sitting opposite the projection. Every 20 minutes we posed a question on
the board and waited for people to give their answers by changing their
Bluetooth names. On the board there was also a line of instructions.
Further improvements/refinements
Afer the low interest in our frst attempt the main observation was the
strong connection between the location and peoples engagement. For
the next setup, we had to rethink the location within the caf and also,
the improvements on the interface: static messages are not easy to read on
the spot, therefore we had to keep only the necessary instructions and the
question. Also, our passive observation of the installation did not have any
efect, therefore, for the next setups the team would employ a more active
participation in the process.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 341
Figure 04. Plan of the student caf, UCL London indicating
the position of the installation - 2nd setup
Second Setup
Te second setup took place on a weekday, in the same caf during
lunchtime. Te board was projected on a central wall, between the two
entrances, where it would be difcult for people to cross without noticing
it. To encourage participation we started leaving our responses on the
board. Te reaction of the public was signifcantly improved compared
to the frst attempt, with a wide variety of diferent uses emerging, which
also shows that the installation has the potential to inspire the public and
extract creative behaviours. In order to advertise the project we had put
leafets on the tables, with an explanation and instructions on how to
participate. It needs to be mentioned that the board worked better in cases
where people were sitting with friends, and it was an opportunity to make
fun, tease others or even talk to strangers. Despite the presence of clear
instructions, in many cases there were people who didnt understand how
the installation worked and had to be guided through the procedure.
One of the most interesting moments during the setup was when a candidate
for the UCLU elections walked in and started advertising himself. He was
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 342
approached and ofered the board to communicate with his voters. With
his participation, questions related to his campaign started to be displayed
on the pin-board which triggered a quick reaction from the public. Te
candidates initial estrangement was gradually replaced by intrigue and
astonishment. He started replying to the questions out loud and instigated
by curiosity, tried to unveil the anonymity of the BT users in order to give
a direct answer in person. We recognised this event as one of the magic
moments described by Reid, Hull and Cater [2005] as the unexpected
moments when physical and virtual collides and coexist in a harmonic and
synaesthetic cooperation.
Figure 05. Plan of TCR Bar, Tottenham Court Road London
indicating the position of the installation - 3rd setup
Third Setup
One of the main observations was the strong connection between the
location and the peoples engagement. Te next step was to test the
installation against a diferent social environment, to observe the kinds
of uses and behaviours arising from diferent contexts. Te second setup
took place on a weekday evening, in a local pub. Te confguration of the
space was not very convenient; however, a big projection wall made the
installation visible. Technical issues (the fact that most of the customers
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 343
owned an iPhone) prevented people from participating. Tose who
did interact did not care about responding in the questions posed, but
preferred to leave their own messages on the board, teasing their friends
and announcing their celebrations. In some cases, large groups of friends
participated through common use of the same phone.
Process of the experiment
When the installation was lef to run alone, without our active
participation, the interaction rates were kept on a low level in contrast to
the cases where the team actively engaged in the experiment. Moreover, the
advertisement of our project with leafets and BT text messages during the
second and third setups created a dramatic diference compared to the frst
half setup with people being unaware of the project. As mentioned already,
the success was strongly linked to location, and therefore we always tried
to fnd the most prominent spaces that would facilitate engagement.
Also, throughout the experiments, the interface went through a process
of refnement in order to make the messages easy to read, keep only the
necessary instructions and use questions that would provoke reaction.
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Data Analysis
Quantitative analysis
Te objective of the quantitative analysis is to assess peoples interactions
in a bigger picture and measure the success of our experiment through
the number of interactions and Bluetooth enabled devices. Te following
graphs illustrate the most representative moments of the three setups,
measured by their higher numbers of participants and degrees of
Te graph in appendix A clearly refects the overall results of our frst
attempt. Judging from the total number of people in the cafe, 36% (15
people) were connected to the local BT network. From these, around
93% were using personalised usernames, suggesting high degree of
awareness of their digital ID or BT technology. Interestingly, on that
particular moment, only 26% of BT users were actually interacting with
the pin-board. Overall, these numbers showed a very small response from
the public and certainly did not refect our expectations. Tey exposed,
nevertheless, some weaknesses of our project, making us rethink about a
few aspects of this installation regarding interface, approach and location.
In our second attempt, the installation was better positioned in the
cafe, allowing for greater viewing and interaction. Our participation
as researchers, was also more active than in previous experiments. Tis
is surely refected in one of the moments represented by the graph in
appendix B, which shows that 61% of the BT users demonstrated some
interest in interacting with the pin-board, having their usernames changed
in response to the question displayed on screen. Curiously, almost half of
these were also performing active communication with other participants.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 345
Te response was rather positive and two additional facts contributed to
this outcome. Te frst is that a greater proportion (41%) of people in the
cafe had their BT devices enabled, with 83% of these using personalised
usernames and likely to be active users of this technology. Te second is
related to unexpected public events that happened alongside (i.e. the UCLU
candidate event) and close to our experiment that jointly cooperated to
an increased interest of the audience. But some issues were also noticed,
pointing towards few refnements in our interface (i.e. positioning of
elements on the screen) and questions with more engaging subjects.
In our third and last set-up, the main objective was to test the efectiveness
of the installation in a diferent kind of environment and time. Although
realised during happy hour, the place chosen was not busy and not many
people had their BT devices enabled (33%). But even so, 55% of interaction
was achieved from the local BT network. Te most interesting aspect comes
from a higher percentage of users performing active communication with
one another. Probably due to a diferent profle of audience and particular
interest from certain groups of people, this communication consisted of
some of these users changing their ID names 6 or 7 times, a much bigger
fgure if compared with previous experiments.
For most of the experiments one could observe the emergence of diferent
patterns of behaviour. Te installation was mainly used to answer the
questions posed, most of the times in a provocative way. But many other
kinds of communication were created. Te pin-board became a way to
communicate with other unknown users, play with friends, make jokes,
advertising and promoting people and ideas, etc. Also, there were many
who changed their names constantly to respond to other users replies. Te
development of diferent and unexpected behaviours indicated that the
openness of the installation may give plenty of room to users creativity.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 346
Questionnaire analysis
Te questionnaires, distributed during each of our experiments, allowed
us to trace a better profle of the general public. Te questions were
formulated around two of the four key points of this study: access and
From the information collected from the questionnaires, one could
realise that the majority of the interviewed people (63%) are conscious of
their digital identities being inherently related to the use of BT or other
pervasive technologies. Almost the same proportion (69%) believes that
this virtual identity can be intrinsically related and efected by our physical
presence. Online communities or message boards such as Facebook, Instant
Messenger were indicated as the most popular, along with Linkedin,
Twitter and Myspace.
Interestingly, among all technologies available on a mobile phone, internet
is the most used and, behind Wi-Fi, GPS and email, Bluetooth was the last.
Also, 73% of the people admitted to keep their BT devices of. Compared
with the high popularity of BT some years ago, these fgures may point
towards a descending trend of this technology for the coming years. It
might also indicate some actual degree of avoidance from users, given the
vulnerability of BT enabled devices to constant or unknown tracking or
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 347
Public Reaction
One of the most enlightening aspects of the project was discovering how
to successfully gain user participation. Even though a certain level of
wariness had been anticipated, as is true with anything new, what had been
particularly interesting was how widespread this scepticism was within
the general public. Even more surprising however was the complete lack
of intrigue that many individuals seemed to possess, even those queuing
adjacent to the installation.
Te distribution of leafets and the sending of Bluetooth messages allowed
for individuals to learn about the project in more depth, from the comfort
of their seats. Tis subtle method of advertisement was particularly
efective especially in grabbing the attention of groups. Groups of friends
tended to be the most prominent users rather than individuals. In these
situations, any question posed tended to be ignored, and the display was
used as more as a means of expressing personal messages to one another,
ranging from messages of congratulations to petty mocking. In instances
in which more than one group was actively using the installation at a time,
private conversations began to emerge between the two, either through
rival taunts or as questions and answers.
It was clear from the content of many contributions that the anonymity
provided by the Bluetooth username encouraged bolder responses from
individual participants. Te board acted as a means of temporary grafti
in which any opinion could be displayed to a wider public without the
worry of identifcation. Tis really came to light during the student body
campaign event. Te quantity and variety of questions posed illustrated
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 348
a greater and more probing participation than could have normally been
expected from the crowd. Tis success of this incident also emphasised a
common response from the users that implantation of the installation as
a simple question and answer forum created intrigue, however this was
unsustained. Rather its use in conjunction with other events provided
greater scope for wider implementation.
From the questionnaires users gave an average rating of 8 out of 10 for the
success and interest in the project however only 50% believed that it was
useful in its current incarnation, with the other 50% believing it to be a
Success and Failures
It had been our original aim to create an autonomous installation, however
it soon became apparent from our frst test, that active participation on
our behalf would be required to initially attract users. Te use of leafets
and Bluetooth messages to attract users had a signifcant efect upon
the level of participation. Tey were particularly useful in quelling any
anxiety potential users had about connecting their laptops or phones to
an unknown medium. Another use of the leafets was to clearly explain
how to participate. From our preliminary testing we discovered that
people would ofen overlook any text on the display in order to gain an
overall impression. With this in mind the visual interface was simplifed
to make it more comprehendible from only a passing view. Te position
of the projection was changed to feature more prominently in the space,
and importantly, in such a way that people would walk across its path.
Tis instantly drew attention to the presence of the project and, ofen,
subsequent participation.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 349
Once we were able to consistently attract participants, we discovered
a number of other interesting user traits. Notably social context was an
important factor in the participation behaviours of individuals. Having
tested the installation in both a caf and a bar, during lunch and the
evening, we noticed that the level and enthusiasm changed. At lunch time
the usage tended to be lower especially with workers. Students with a more
open schedule had more time to explore the project and would usually do
so individually or in small groups. Bars tended to be more efective than
cafs due to the more relaxed and jovial environment. Tis is particularly
true of large groups of ofce workers in the evening, which tended to
embrace the project for their personal amusement.
Te unexpected success of the project came with uses of the project that we
had not originally anticipated, such as the student election campaigning.
We received additional feedback from other members of the public
interested in the commercial applications of the product, especially within
corporate and ofce environments. However to realistically diversify or
commercialise the project there are a number of technical issues that need
to be resolved.
One surprising issue we came across was with the use of iPhones. To
change the Bluetooth username requires a laptop to change the actual
phone settings. Tis obviously excluded any iPhone user instantly from
participation. Tis was a serious problem, as from our tests we observed
that on average, roughly 30 - 40% of the population of a location had
iPhones. Tis is not necessarily indicative of the whole population but is
still a signifcant amount.
Te use of Bluetooth technology generally however has a number of
signifcant issues in this feld. Starting from issues within our project,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 350
we found that the limited number of characters drastically reduced the
potentially contributions from users. Tis could be argued as promoting
concise responses, in a manner similar to Twitter, however most phones
only allowed for a maximum of 20 characters, which was ofen too little.
Te actually technology used to detect and obtain Bluetooth information
provided us with a great deal of trouble, usually associated with the refresh
rate and catchment size. However the greatest issue overall is the actual
pervasiveness and use of Bluetooth. From our questionnaires we can see
that on average less than a third of the public regularly keep their Bluetooth
enabled. In addition most users were unaware of how to change ones
Bluetooth username on their devices. On the whole Bluetooth appeared
to be a rather redundant medium in this context with little popularity.
Potential Applications
From the questionnaires completed, a number of individuals suggested
alternate uses of the project. Due to the diversity of the users, we received
wide-ranging suggestions from photo sharing to speed dating. However
some of the most popular and most exciting are those that work as an aid
to existing events, providing new, anonymous forms of communication.
Of particular interest had been the use in lectures, presentations and
conferences, in which an audience could pose their speaker a series of
anonymous questions. It encourages those that would ordinarily not speak
to participate in the debate. Other noteworthy suggestions were for pub
quizzes, market research, product pitches, events listings and as a help
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 351
The Wider Context
Despite the fact that many aspects of our project had been implemented
before for other installations, there is still nothing equivalent that is
available commercially; it is not something pervasive in our everyday
living. Te level of interaction it allows generated an obvious interest and
genuine intrigue among the public. Te contribution and the importance
of the installation can be realised when we consider the importance of
social interaction and encounters in the public space of contemporary
societies; mobile technologies can make a real diference since they have
the ability to change the immediate environment and streamline our
communication and interaction in a way that has never been conceived
before. Tis project is a small yet robust attempt to map the way we perceive
space (physical and digital) and our existence within it. It manages to use
a common, ubiquitous technological means and convert it to the medium
that facilitates social encounter and above all communication.
Tis project was developed as part of the module: Embedded and Embodied
Technologies of the MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation, UCL,
London. We acknowledge the contribution of Ava Fatah for her constant
guidance, Marilena Skavara, William R. Jackson and Kaiti Papapavlou for
the support during the development of the work.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 352
A: Illustration refecting overall results of 1st setup and reaction to example question
B: Illustration refecting overall results of 2nd setup nd reaction to example question
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 353
C: Illustration refecting overall results of 3rd setup
and reaction to example question
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 354
Brignull H., Rogers Y. (2003), Enticing People to Interact with Large
Public Displays in Public Spaces. Interact Lab, School of Cognitive
& Computing Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton
Fatah gen. Schieck, A., Penn, A., ONeill, E. (2008), Mapping, sensing
and visualising the digital co-presence in the public arena. In proceedings
9th International Conference on Design & Decision Support Systems
in Architecture and Urban Planning, Leende, NL. pp. 38-58.
Fatah gen. Schieck, A., Palmer, F., Penn, A., ONeill, E., 2010 (in print), Sensing,
projecting and interpreting digital identity through Bluetooth: from anonymous
encounters to social engagement. In Foth, M., Forlano, L. Gibbs, M., & Satchell,
C. (Eds.) From Social Butterfy to Engaged Citizen, MIT (a book chapter)
Fatah gen. Schieck A., Kostakos V., Penn A. (2010) Exploring Digital Encounters
in the Public Arena. In Willis, K.S., Roussos, G., Chorianopoulos, K.; Struppek,
M. (Eds.) Shared Encounters, Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany.
Kindberg T., Jones T. (2007)Merolyn the Phone: A Study of Bluetooth
Naming Practices. In UbiComp 2007, 318- 335. Innsbruck, Austria.
McCarthy J. F. (2007) Te Challenges of Recommending Digital Selves in Physical
Spaces. Proceedings of the 2007 ACM conference on recommender systems
Reid J., Hull R., Cater K. , Fleuriot C. (2005), Magic moments in Situated Mediascapes
International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology
Hosio S., Kukka H., Riekki J. (2008), Leveraging Social Networking
Services to Encourage Interaction in Public Space. Proceedings of the 7th
International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 355
Public Space 2.0
Research Project funded by the
Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
Sandrine von Klot
University of Arts and Industrial Design Linz (A)
Research Project Partner:
Institute of Computer Technology, Vienna University of Technology (A)
Institute for Architectural Sciences, Vienna University of Technology (A)
International Cooperation:
SENSEable City Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Architecture (USA)
School of Design, University of Pennsylvania (USA)
Public Space 2.0
For the designer its a shif away from individual user practices to social
practices, from discrete sofware interactions and the sofware applications
satisfaction of user transactions to talk and communication, which are
ongoing and may not be goal oriented. Human factors in social media are
social factors also. Te sofwares mediation of interaction and presentation
of users through activity and profles, posts and appeals involves user
psychology, imagination, and the mediation of audiences that can sense
presence across space and time.[1]
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 356
In this research project we raise the question whether current social
practices in urban public space could possibly beneft from a mutual
inducement with vital communication strategies ofen associated with
various social media platforms of Web 2.0. New technologies evoking
long-time changes generate virtual communities and social networks. Users
increasingly form up addressing formats such as wikis, weblogs or other
applications of the so-called Rich Internet Applications. Tey manage to
make use of new information systems to follow personal agendas. In the
near future the same users will not just accumulate new content on the
web, stimulated by fast technological developments they will furthermore
create individual web services that eventually produce data accustomed to
changing requirements.
A strong tendency of constitutive socializing of the web will eventually
challenge technology in unexpected ways.[2]
Our focus lies on potential improvements of public life through innovative
use of design and technology. Built environment serves as territory
for intensifed research on media visualization. We envision temporal
collective spaces to appear and to allow for new kinds of social gatherings.
City inhabitants are anticipated as actors equipped to produce and to share
information in the public realm of contemporary urban developments.
Research felds range from concepts of rezoning public media sphere to
further developments of interface and wearable electronic design as well as
to the re-defnition of media use and media surfaces.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 357
Degrees of Freedom: On What We Do
In her book Vita Activa Vom ttigen Leben, Hannah Arendt (1958)
presents three main categories of human activity entitling them as work,
production and taking action.[3] While in her understanding, work
reassures our ongoing lives as well as the existence of our species, production
allows for an artifcial world to arise, independent of our human mortality,
and it may even counterbalance mortality with something like continuity
and duration. Finally taking action - as long as it serves basic needs and
the preservation of commonwealth - provides the crucial condition for
generations to prolong consistently, for memories to occur and therefore
for history to remain. Arendt seeks to reengage possible remaining aspects
of choice and inherent dimensions of beauty in modern and postmodern
societies. She relates back to the Greek philosopher Aristotle who refected
on optional historic lifestyles of Greek men liberated from any notion
of necessity. In this sense, taking action leads beyond temporal states of
being, allowing for experiences of beauty as dimensions to produce and
share collective identity. Ranging from life as it slowly dissipates as men
indulge in and consume the beauty of body related pleasures to a life
based on beautiful action still within the boundaries of the Polis, Aristotle
fnally speaks of the life of a philosopher who manages to remain within a
sphere of beauty by means of research and observation of whatever may not
pass by.
Te presence of others as they see what we see, and as they hear what we
hear, reassures us about the actual reality of the world. But then highly
developed degrees of intimacy of our private life we are thankful to have
since the modern age, and ever since the decline of the Public, were able
to increase and enrich our spectrum of subjective feelings and private
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 358
sensations to a maximum degree. By nature, this process of intensifcation
could only emerge at the expense of our trust in the substantiality of our
real world, and of our confdence in all those who appear in it.
Hannah Arendt refers to it as a literal expansion of the private, as if people
had put a spell on daily life, which in consequence denies the existence
of the public realm. Tis leads almost to an entire cancellation of highly
virtuous performances in the life of a society, so in the end delight and
magic, rather than virtuosity and signifcance, may govern the social public
Dissolving the Public as inherently Political Realm
Social realm evolved as the inside of the household including all activities,
worries, and forms of organization stepped out of the dark of the house,
into the bright light of the public political sphere. In doing so, the former
distinguishing line between private and public became difused, the actual
terminology of public and private started to become endlessly rededicated
beyond recognition as it used to relate to both spheres in the life of each
individual - as a private person and as a citizen of a local community. In
ancient Greek society, citizens used to be able to meet and compete as
virtuous agents of public concern. Afer reformation, Christianity evoked
deep changes as in the case of the individual who no longer acts upon a
virtuous mind on his or her own, but as an accompanying instance to
god. (Weltverlust) Modern sciences introduced statistics as normative
force neutralizing any former understanding of excellence or highly
virtuous performance. Economy, originally located in the private realm of
society, took over public space, and all societal relations became inherently
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 359
determined by aspects of necessity. In mass society, work has been assigned
with higher signifcance than agency and production; proceeding as
acting citizen therefore lost in relevance. What remained is some kind of
complying with the rules, as statistics, economic considerations as much as
necessities evolving out of daily life as such may presuppose. Te modern
Public as synonym for a political realm or even for Te Political has become
Sensual Experience and Mobilization
According to Richard Sennett (1991), the most crucial diference between
the old Greek culture and our modern culture addresses the fact, that we
no longer trust our eyes.[4] While making political, religious or even erotic
experiences, the ancient Greeks could rely on what they actually saw; as
for now, in modern culture we sufer from a division between outside and
inside, a division between subjective experience and the experience of an
exterior world, between the self and the city. Terefore whenever we try
to give concrete form to an inner state of mind, to an intimate degree of
inwardness, eventually we become involved in conficts with others. City
planning strategies tend to negate many diferences between citizens
since planners take the notion of diference as instance of potential threat
between people, rather than as mutual encouragement. To Richard Sennett,
this explains why contemporary urban settings very ofen are shaped by
neutralizing spaces which do not communicate, and discard potential
danger possibly invoked by diverse social contact, through implementing
street frontages made of refecting glass, motorways separating poor
districts from the rest of the city, and urban dwellings primarily as sleeping
communities. Furthermore, Sennett describes the specifc phenomenon
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 360
linked to a common disbelief, grounded in that the exterior world of
things does not necessarily represent the inner world we relate to as
individuals. As he recommends to deal with whatever we see in this world,
he actually points to a very important moment of contemporary crisis: by
not relying on our own senses anymore, we contribute to a general mood
of demobilization; but if whenever we decide to pay close attention to our
senses, we will start to develop skills to deal with complex environments,
and to achieve the capability to remain internal stability. Tis would lead
to developing a kind of art of self-exposure, and according to Sennett this
art form eventually enhances mobilization, opposed to turning one citizen
into a victim of the other.
Contemporary Design Production
Beyond questions of contemporary public and privatized worlds, and
those of most relevant sensual experiences in non-private spaces, we seek
to analyze forms of public use and interaction practiced in modern and
postmodern culture. If we look at the triad of producer, recipient and
(art-) work, it reveals certain aspects of a rather complex relationship
between one instance producing and providing, another one using and
transforming, and fnally an interfacing instance as manufactured, desired
product to undergo further transformation.
In redefning the (art-) work as a process-oriented artefact, the same triad
starts to serve current requirements of adaptability and customized mass-
production. Appropriate concepts of work envision theoretical product
profles that imply multiplicity and extensibility, while turning away from
the idea of being substantiated, self-contained, modern objects. Whenever
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 361
the (art-) work is being assigned and handed over to its recipient, it presents
itself in one possible, exemplifed formulation of itself, though its in-depth
potential will only be fully exposed in the course of programmatic extension
and reallocation. In the long term, this relationship invokes collaborative,
participatory practices, due to the fact, that everyone once associated with
a certain product may have an impact on how it is being developed any
further. In this way recipients fnd themselves enabled to take active part
in processes of production and ongoing transformation; evolving social
milieus may eventually allow for specialized practices to unfold.
Participation as a favoured marketing strategy of our consumer culture
today, is successfully based on a related principle. We are ofered adjustable
artefacts operating as a mirror surfaces to our own varying needs. One fnds
diferent profles incorporated in just one product to chose from or even to
alter; simultaneously this product consists of a complex identity structure
ensuring long term self-promotion. On one hand, the user experiences an
increase of competence while discovering abilities to re-design the artefact;
but then her/his redesigning measures almost as unconscious agents
essentially aid in to propagating the producers ID. In this sense, increasing
entanglement of consuming and producing modes, might surprisingly lead
to an accelerated decrease of lee for individually motivated action.
To anticipate further inherent dynamics of various interactive, participatory
practices we propose to look at exemplifying works in the feld of fne arts
and social media.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 362
Participatory Practices in the Fields
of Fine Arts and Social Media
In the year of 1976, Rosalind Krauss assigned a symbolic mirror function
to the TV monitor as the essential element of early video art works. Since
viewers were enabled to interact with themselves watching the screen,
the integrated feedback loop of the video footage would turn into the
refection of the mirror.[5] Implicitly Krauss paralleled impressions of a
mirror refection to the proceedings of appropriation in which, supported
by illusion, former diferences between object and subject seem to be
dissipating. In psychoanalysis, comparable forms of exclusion of the
object, like the negation of the other, comply with behaviour motivated
by narcissism.
In comparison, performance works of the same time were to follow similar
strategies of creative cooperation between artist and recipient, while
consciously choosing not to assign any of the produced sensuous experience
only to the artwork itself. One successful example of an anti-narcissistic
art project called Tap and Touch Cinema was made by the Austrian
artist Valie Export (1968). Carried out as an ofensive, confrontational
performance, the artist furnished concrete moments of exploration of the
female body in public space.[6] She understood her work as critique of the
commercial 1960ies cinema as it delivered over-staged presentations of the
female body.
Within the range of participatory artworks, the gesture of giving has
a special connotation since the one who receives a gif acknowledges
reciprocal responsibilities and therefore within the creative artistic process
unmistakably ethical questions will arise. In her performance Cut Piece
the artist Yoko Ono (1967) took over the role of the sparing instance, and
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 363
confronted the recipients with their own self-determined actions based on
merely obscure agendas.[7] In using scissors, observers of her performance
were allowed to literally cut of pieces of the artists clothes while she was
sitting quietly. Until today, the integration of various gif related rituals
allows artists to present themselves more clearly as gender-specifc subjects
in the context of power-oriented networks.
In the work of Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July Learning to love you
more (2002) the public is asked to respond to a creative catalogue of
small tasks to cope with. Curious people follow simple online instructions
(notation of a recipe, image of family member etc.) and in return leave
documenting material on a website. Te artistic framing of the chosen task
will redirect the attention of the observer to small details of her/his own
past while simultaneously creating public space for share and exchange.
Here again, under diferent circumstances, the position of the artist/
producer and that one of the recipient/user fall into one, immanently
asking for a self-critical view. Te artwork in its scattered appearance will
be assigned to multiple co-producers. Indirectly they form a group sharing
related interests; meanwhile they receive resonating gifs assimilating the
recently produced.
Collaborating Strategies and Tactics Online
Associated notions of collaboration correlate with current developments
on the Internet. Te introduction of social media allows for intensifed
communication and various forms of co-operation. From this development
one can read a basic change happening: the Internet has gone through a
major transformation, changing from a medium of publication (starting in
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 364
the 1990s) to a medium of communication (since 2005).[8] Independent
of any academic background and individual profling, ever since it has
become possible as much as probable to generate, edit and distribute
independent text formats to be shared and re-evaluated with others. Te
accompanying formation of self-organized interest groups lead to high
expectations about intensifed processes of democratization and a resulting
atmosphere of social confdence on the web. Implied analogies as in this
case start to sketch virtual public space as encouraging instance to enhance
democratically motivated behaviour and interaction. As this kind of
analogy points to a dualistic view that claims that mind and matter are two
ontologically separate categories, we move right into the core of a general
dispute of today. Do we agree on the existence of virtual worlds separated
from materialized worlds? How do we choose to categorize diferent
qualities of space?
In many ways, categories originally introduced by Michel de Certeau in
the 1980s, seem not to have lost much in relevance: de Certeau defnes
two modes of urban behaviour, strategies and tactics.[9] Strategies are
being developed merely by institutions and power related centres, as they
evoke specifc merits to reassure the production of potentially big spheres
of infuence. Hence, tactics are generated by individuals as means of
negotiation though subordinated to the overall realm of given strategies.
City maps or street signs clearly represent strategies, the short cut of a
given route or the un-aimed strolling through the city refer to tactics by
non-producing instances. According to this defnition, individuals may
not cause long-term structural changes within their environments but they
do have the capability of adapting concrete circumstances temporarily
according to changing, individual needs.[10] De Certeau emphasizes on
the operational dimension of the so-called tactics, temporarily allowing
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 365
individuals to withdraw from any direct impact of strategically aligned
spaces; they allow for corresponding activities up to unforeseen subversive
acts to happen. Temporal dimensions of invisible enactment space become
assigned with disguised unconscious desires to inhabit things as spaces.
If we try to relocate these categories within the environment of social media
practices of today, we might fnd strategies and tactics directly linked to one
another, causing for multiple reverse meanings to appear. Media frms such
as Facebook are asking their users to write additional sofware packages
to achieve the ability to ofer even more services. Until now we still do
not know how creative producers will respond to this subtle engagement
which eventually might imply a long-term involvement and co-production
of our cultural achievements.
Towards Possible Agendas of Contemporary Design
As our starting observations reveal multiple, intertwined and partially
contradictory conditions, we acknowledge the necessity for them to be laid
open in much greater detail as the project progresses. In correspondence,
we want to state that Design as one urgent task of today has been crucially
expanded; its terminology no longer only implies signifcance and
hermeneutics, but maybe also evokes a moral dimension.
Te extensional application of the actual word design has increased
since design may easily be applied to growing settings of production; the
spectrum of things to be designed has been enlarged by far, and no longer
can be reduced to a list of functional or luxury objects.
According to the sociologist Bruno Latour (2009), our heritage from the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 366
modern era slowly dissolves: we have started to lose sight of the former
dichotomy between materiality on one side, and design on the other side.
So he argues if we manage to alter anything considered as matter of fact
into a matter of concern we truly start allowing for design objects to come
into our world. Te contemporary historic situation is defned by a radical
break between two great narratives or if you want you could say passions:
on one hand we have the history of emancipation, of disentanglement,
modernization, innovation and control. But then we also have the history
of devotion, entanglement, dependency and care.[11]
In this context, Bruno Latour suggests design as touchstone to fnd out
which way we are going.
If we all say that everything has to be designed and also redesigned
including nature then we do not need to revolutionize or modernize
anything any more. If we see ourselves as socially active and creative
members, who or what else will we have to accept as such member in the
near future? We will have to substitute the undeniable by the arguable;
and connect the terminology of objectifed science and with the one of
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 367
[1] Chan, Adrian, 2007, Social Media: Paradigm shif?,
http://www.gravity7.com/paradigm_shif_1.html (accessed Sept 24, 2010).
[2] Stocker, A., Tochtermann, K., 2008, (Virtuelle) Communities und Soziale Netzwerke,
in: Back, A. u.a. (ed.), 2008, Web 2.0 in der Unternehmenspraxis. Grundlagen,
Fallstudien und Trends zum Einsatz von Social Sofware, Oldenburg Wissenschafsverlag.
[3] Arendt, Hannah, orig. 1958, 1967, Vita Activa oder
vom ttigen Leben, Verlag Piper, Mnchen.
[4] Sennett, Richard , orig. 1991, 2009, Civitas, Die Grostadt und die
Kultur des Unterschieds, S.Fischer Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt am Main.
[5] Krauss, Rosalind, 1976, Video: Te Aesthetics of Narcism, October, Vol.1, MIT Press
[6] Export, Valie, 1968-71, Tap and Touch Cinema,
Performance in various European cities .
[7] Ono, Yoko, orig. 1965, 2003, Cut Piece, original Performance at
Carnegiehall New York, restaged at Ranelagh Teatre Paris .
[8] Chan, Adrian, 2007, Social Media: Paradigm shif?,
http://www.gravity7.com/paradigm_shif_1.html (accessed Sept 24, 2010).
[9] de Certeau, Michel, 1984, Te Practice of Everyday
Life, Berkeley University of California Press.
[10] de Certeau, Michel, 1984, Te Practice of Everyday
Life, Berkeley University of California Press.
[11] Latour, B., 2008, Ein vorsichtiger Prometheus? Design im Zeitalter des
Klimawandels, in M. Jongen, S.van Tuinen, K. Hemelsoet (eds.), 2009, Die Vermessung
des Ungeheuren: Philosophie nach Peter Sloterdijk, Fink Verlag Mnchen.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 368
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 369
Drawing Circles
Search on Mobile Devices
Mathias Mitteregger
DI, Research Fellow
Institute of Architectural Sciences/Department of Architecture Teory,
TU Vienna
Imagine that your business had a complete log of your customers
wanderings every trip to the grocery store, every work commute, every
walk with the dog. What could you learn about them? Armed with that
knowledge, what sorts of goods and services might you try to sell them?
Tis telling quote of published in Business Week (Baker 2009) suggests
why search engine companies boldly invest in location-based services
and undertake large eforts to gain market shares. Location search on
smart phones has the potential to reshape urban structures as it enables
to navigate in space and run applications that relate to the users location.
By restructuring public space and disconnecting many actions from a
physical location this technology challenges the traditional idea that social
and political action need a distinct, and the city hence being a stage par
excellence where such actions are performed. Tis illustrates the importance
any search technology the data they provide will have in structuring
the urban. Navigating using a smart phone will shape a customized view on
urban structure and limit the places that visible. Tis in turn might lead to a
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 370
kind of personalized urban space; established according to the constraints
of the technology. Te user profle will create the structure and relevance
is a function of nods and edges, experienced only with other individuals
sorted in the same group.
As search technologies hit the streets, available anytime on mobile devices,
their possible relevance to architecture and urban planning is recognized.
Tey charm artists, researches in architecture and urban planning, sofware
engineers, graphic designers and, of course, the advertising industry.
Already there are numerous applications available that make use of the
current position of the user. Only since the iPhone smart phones have
enough processing power, bandwidth and other built-in hardware (GPS,
camera) to constantly augment the users surrounding with external data.
Tus any sofware to enable location-based technology evolves under the
two constraints of (1) the device and (2) the data it processes. Here, the
former is lef aside and Id like to concentrate on the data, data that is in
most ofen a product of search.
Accounts on ubiquitous computing, augmented reality and the like, tend
to outline the general novelty of such technologies and summon the
pioneering powers they are about to expose. However, the more we claim
for the unprecedented capabilities of any technology, the more we are
obliged to check the past for the validity of our claim, otherwise: How do
we know what is or is not unprecedented? Te motivation for the research
that resulted in this paper, I owe to a keynote given by Paul Duguid (2009)
at the Deep Search conference in Vienna, were he emphasized, from the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 371
perspective of the historian, exactly this. To back up my own research on
location technologies I set to look at the history of search for fndings
relevant in a discussion on architecture and urbanism. In a tentative
and inevitably incomplete manner I want to follow up search tools and
technologies from the invention of the removable type to the present,
occasionally making notes from a wider historical range. Te largest part
of the argument naturally follows the history of the book, books as means
to store and distribute information and the technologies that developed to
organize and make available the stored information.
Two competing ways of information retrieval are dominating the web and
thus will or are dominating location-based services. One is to trust the
algorithmic authority of search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and
the like, the other is to go with Facebook (and other Social Services) and
its Like button that involves a more social, participatory narrative. Both
have their ancestors, both are not at all unprecedented.
In 1471, only some 20 years afer Gutenberg, the Italian humanist Niccol
Perotti wrote a letter to Francesco Guarnerio were he vents his disgust
about what the press has done to the readers. My dear Francesco, I have
lately kept praising the age in which we live, because of the great, indeed
divine gif of the new kind of writing which was recently brought to us from
Germany. In fact, I saw a single man printing in a single month as much as
could be written by hand by several persons a year () It was for this reason
that I was led to hope that within a short time we should have such a large
quantity of books that there wouldnt be a single work which could not
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 372
be procured because of lack of means or scarcity () Yet of false and all
too human thought I see that things turned out quite diferently from
what I had hoped. Because now that anyone is free to print whatever they
wish, they ofen disregard that which is best and instead write, merely for
the sake of entertainment, what would best be forgotten, or, better still be
erased from all books. And even when they write something worthwhile
they twist it and corrupt it to the point where it would be much better to
do without such books, rather than having a thousand copies spreading
falsehoods over the whole world. (Perotti 1471 cited in Danton 2009 pp. xvi)
Te number of books on the market before 1500 is indeed remarkable.
It is estimated to be at around 20 million volumes and that is at a time
when about 100 million people lived in countries where print developed
and certainly only a few of them could read. (Febvre and Martin 1976 p.
248) What Perotti argues in the ffeenth century turned to be a scholarly
commonplace for the thinkers of the Enlightenment and still resonates in
current discussions on the net. Kant and Hegel talk of a Bcherfut [food
of books] and Novalis even speaks of a Bcherseuche [book epidemic].
Arthur Schopenhauer is very fgurative in his 1851 essay On Reading and
Books. He complains about writings [that] have been printed today and
are still wet from the press. Tey breed every year in countless numbers
like fies and the public swallows them with a never-ending appetite, since
similis simili gaudet, he states. And it is due to a conspiracy of author,
publisher, and reviewer [that] have joined forces only to take a few
shillings out of the publics pocket. (Schopenhauer 1851 p. 34)
Even at the library of Alexandria (3rd century B.C.) the librarians faced the
problem of making information available as the various collections grow to
be over 500,000 volumes large. As the collection proliferated, so did the
demand by outsiders to gain access and need for a more advanced system
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 373
to search. Zenodotus, the frst librarian, started to introduce a spatial
concept of order and arranged the collection by type. He later set forth the
idea to record the volumes in an alphabetical catalogue, superimposed over
the spatial arrangement. Callimachus, his possible successor, enhanced the
catalogue so it covered author and category. Even though 120 volumes
large and including an elaborate system of categories and subcategories,
the catalogue only involved the eminent authors. (Casson 2001, Duguid
2009) Te framing of a collection in categories and subcategories is still the
standard for large collections; the problem of incompleteness too.
Returning to the more recent history of the printed book (by removable
type) market shifs, caused by the mass production of information is of
particular interest. Te large centers of commerce became the centers
for publishers and booksellers. Tis testifes to the fact that printing was
never really a scholarly mission, rather big business from beginning. Basel,
Nrnberg, Augsburg, Venice developed as centers for printing and selling
of the books, not the large university towns. On possible reason might be
the large shipping costs for the books. At the time the large folio was the
standard with the more handy formats quadro and octavio still to come.
Shipping was a big concern, for printers could expect to sell only a few
copies in the town were they produced. Printers thus relied on networks of
agents all over Europe, especially in university towns, to mediate between
customer and supplier (between those who produced data and others that
search for it). (Febvre and Martin, p. 105) Te situation of mass production
puzzled historians until recent days. To keep costs for transport low printed
sheets (the raw data so to say) were shipped unbound in and the buyer
would then bind them according to his taste.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 374
In the 16
century the market (and information retrieval) underwent
another shif. As authors and publishers became aware of the large
audience they were able to address and the fame this implied, the number
of books fourished again. Te ongoing debate on authorship, royalty-
and copyrights started at the time authors began to sign their works and
reaches to the present with legislations like the Micky Mouse Protection
Act (Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998) without
which Michy Mouse would by now be Open Source. (Danton 2009 p.
7) Authors then chose vernacular language over Latin to address a growing
national audience. Te shared European market split in to smaller national
ones that now were more prone to be infuenced by national political and
religious interest and censorship. Permanent segregation between cultures
and countries was established across Europe. Te project of Enlightenment
found the citation to circumscribe literature, to include and exclude from
within. Tis will be covered in detail below (Structure).
As pointed out above, search is also productive in assessing information.
Te stone tables that held the Epic of Gilgamesh were stored in boxes of
diferent material. Made of cedar, bronze and lapis lazuli they strongly
suggest a hierarchy, a secondary order implied on the text. It is very likely
that the stone tables were rearranged respective to changing customs and
fashions. Tis relates to conventions for newspapers layouts - lead story far
right column, of-lead lef, sof news onside or below the fold, features set
of by special headlines. (Turtschi 2003 p. 65f )
At the beginning of the printed book, instead, the quality of what came
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 375
from the press mattered in the frst place. In the quotes above Niccol
Perotti as well as Schopenhauer show as much regret to how much the
presses were able to produce, as to what they produced. [M]erely for the
sake of entertainment they print what would best be forgotten, or, better
still be erased from all books.
Printing, publishing a book, was (and still is) quite an expanse. To issue
one bad-selling text certainly wiped out the publisher/printer. Te
decision of what to publish hence was basically an assumption on what
the audience might like. As a consequence the frst texts to issue from the
press were almost exclusively re-editions and re-prints of texts that were
already widely disseminated as manuscripts. Te multiplication of texts to
the hundreds resulted in a more restrictive selection; it lead to a pushing
of ideas that were already well established. Te early history of printing
suggests, the press and the market orientation initially increased the
circulation of widely popular texts and reduced the number of diferent
texts on the market.
Not so far of that the frst major books to issue from the press were
bibles. Early publications were above all religious works, medieval and
contemporary literature and only a few texts on what might be called
scientifc issues. However, print turned public interest to technical issues.
Albertis Ten Books on Architecture was published only in 1485, Pierre de
Cresces Treatise on Agriculture in 1486 and Vulturio of Riminis Treatise
on Machines even in 1472. (Febvre and Martin 1976 p. 249)
century scholars, on the other hand, began to set up small presses at
large European universities. (Italy is the exception, as Humanist thought
established well before the rest of Europe) Te frst of the kind was
installed by Guillaume Fichet und Johann Heynlin at the Sorbonne and
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 376
had large infuence on numerous scholars. (Febvre and Martin 1976 p.
253; Rendaudet 1969 p.69f ) But those scholarly printers did not seek,
propelled by humanist interest, to publish the recently rediscovered
texts, instead they set to extricate texts from medieval corruptions and
those emerged by early publishing and re-edit them in their pure Latin
form. (Rendaudet 1969 p.71) Quality of printed text and manuscripts
was generally overestimated until the groundbreaking work of Donald F.
McKenzie. (McKenzie Printers of the Mind) He has shown, among other
things, that many diferent printers where involved in the production of a
single page and several print shops worked together on the production of
one book. Books and pages could thus no longer be related to as the work
of a printer and the research shed a new light on the many diferent books
(and texts passages), for example in the work of Shakespeare.
Increased scientifc interest furnished an increase in scientifc publications,
printed not only by the small presses at universities but also in the
commercial centers. As scientists and publishers faced a very selective
market, many printers turned their ofces into translation workshops to
increase their audience and scientifc publication developed just conversing
the national literatures. Some felds of study could truly beneft of press
and translation; but generally the publications faced the again market
constraints: large volumes rather popularized long established ideas and to
a rigorous selection, print was rather an obstacle in the way of new ideas.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 377
Te large and growing industry of book making in Europe from the 16

century longed for technologies to keep up with the published texts. Te
splitting in smaller nation or country sized markets further increased the
Te publishers frst propelled the development of technologies to record
what was already on the market and how much of it. A system of barter
printers and booksellers had established to acquire new texts for their
shops and stores grew insufcient and unmanageable. In 1648 a publisher
called Father Jacob began to issue the Bibliographia Parisiana and the
Bibliographia Gallicia. A little later in 1657 A Catalogue of the Most
Vendible Books in England appeared to take record of the British book
market. Completeness in the case of bibliographies was important, but as
the most vendible suggests that those compilations, starting four times
a year and later being published monthly forced delimitation. Tose lists
helped the publishers to oversee the market but scholars too had large
demand to keep up with new literature. (Febvre and Martin 1976 p. 271)
In his utopia written in 1771 LAn 2440, Louis-Sbastien Mercier visits the
library of the king and fnds to his surprise only a small cabinet, in which
were several books that seemed to me far from voluminous. Wise man
extracted the substance from thousand in-folio volumes, all of which they
transferred into a small duodecimo-sized volume. (Mercier 1971 (1771)
p. 247, 250) Bestsellers of the time were the multiple volumes collections
that promised to cover the entirety of knowledge in a certain feld: the
bibliothque. Either periodically thirty one of them published in France
between 1686 and 1789 or bought at a stroke, they were regarded as
saving space and as delivering concentrated knowledge distilled like a
chemical substance. (Chartier 1994 p. 68)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 378
Scholarly research relied on a network of personal correspondence:
scholars who had the reputation of knowing the feld. Nicolas-Claude de
Peiresc, who discovered the Orion nebular, was known as the Procurator
General of the Republic of Letters and grew to be the biggest celebrity
of this networks, the nod with the most edges, at the time. Others were
Chapelain, or the brothers Dupuy Glaisy. With the advent of the periodical
press, a vast number of scientifc bibliographical journals spread across
Europe. Te frst scientifc periodical was the Journal des Savants that went
to press on January 1
in 1665 in France. But the journal did originate not
inside the scientifc community; in fact it was Colbert who sought for a
means to control the sciences. (Botein, Censer, Ritvo 1981)
Te Journal des Savants allowed Colbert not only to register new
publications, evaluate and review them; the biggest infuence the
publication had (and scientifc publications still have) by just covering
arguments or not. Tis relates to Foucault and the idea of constructing
a discussion to create power-knowledge relations. (Foucault 1991 p.
92f ) Dennis de Sallo, the frst editor of the Journal, was too harsh in his
critique and was felt to be ofensive by many authors. In fact it didnt need
Sallo: Jean Gallois replaced him only one year later and the Journal then
grew to become a great success. Febvre and Martin note that this kind of
(search) technology although in its infancy, exercised from the beginning
a profound infuence on the evolution of ideas. (Febvre and Martin 1976
p. 236)
In Britain the Royal Society initiated the Philosophical Transactions for the
same reasons in 1665. What followed was a large number of periodicals
by various interest groups and institutions (like the Jesuits Journal de
Trvoux, Te Nouvelles de la Rpublique des Letters, Bibliothque universelle
et historique).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 379
Today exclusion works in another direction. As commercial publishers
learned that professors and students are used to and do not pay for the
journals they get at the library prices for journal subscriptions prices
exploded. Te price for a one-year subscription for the Te Journal of
Comparative Neurology (Wiley) is at $ 30.212 in the US and 19.980 in
Europe. It goes with out saying that this has serious infuence on academic
teaching and research, and accessing recent scientifc information.
lEncyclopdie. The project of Enlightenment
In 1785 Etienne-Louis Boulle proposed the revealing project for the
reconstruction of the Bibliothque du Roi. In the immense basilica, one
hundred meters long and thirty wide, bookshelves are placed along the
sides arranged in four stepped tiers lit from the top of the vault and the two
ends. Te bookshelves would form the base for a colonnade that would
be completed on each end by something like a triumphal arch () under
which two allegorical statues could be put. (Chartier 1994 p. 62) Te
reading room of the British Museum (1857) and the Library of Congress
Reading Room (1897) too involve the idea of a corpus of useful knowledge
that can be encircled and overlooked. To relate and organize information
from within the books Enlightenment thinkers began to make use citation
as a means of structure.
In 1784 the Berlinische Monatsschrif published Kants essay Beantwortung
der Frage: Was ist Auflrung? even starts with a citation: S.(iehe) Decemb.
1783. S. 516. It points to a page in the middle of a text, one year earlier
in another volume of the journal by Zllner Ist es ratsam, das Ehebndis
nicht ferner durch die Religion zu fancieren? Tis article in turn is a reply
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 380
to another essay by Biester. (Wellmon, forthcoming) Scholars made use of
the citation to include what they thought was relevant literature and, on
the other hand, to gain authority to what they have written.
Te 17 volumes of articles and the 11 volumes of illustrations of Diderot
and dAlemberts Encyclopdie may be the largest intellectual project of
Enlightenment, for sure its biggest market success. (Darnton 1979) It
was sold more than 4200 times. What the 142 Encyclopedists tried to
achieve may be best accounted by what Diderot had to say in his article on
Encyclopedia. Te purpose of the Encyclopdie was to collect knowledge
disseminated around the globe () and transmit it to those who will come
afer us, so that the work of preceding centuries will not become useless
to the centuries to come; and so that our ofspring, becoming better
instructed, will at the same time become more virtuous and happy, and
that we should not die without having rendered a service to the human

(Available online: University of Munich)
What distinguished the Encyclopdie from all other Enlightenment
publications was its internal organization. It compromises three structures:
alphabetic order, taxonomy of human knowledge and cross-references to
other articles to indicate the link between the subjects. Te Taxonomy
was a tree diagram developed by the authors, based on Francis Bacons
Te Advancement of Learning, to graphically represent the knowledge as
covered in the Encyclopdie.
Te Encyclopdie was the last to structure its knowledge according to the
taxonomy by Bacon, but the elaborate system of renvoi (citations) gave
way to the link and we witness today. Te renvoi point from one article
to the other, link it with others, setting relations, suggesting connections,
neglecting others.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 381
Te article on Eucharist, points at cannibalism and bread but not at
theology. Tis relates to the common etymological roots of encyclopedia
and search. Both encyclopedia (cyclos) and search are related to the Latin
circare to go round, or circus circle. Gilles Blanchard and Mark Olsen have
analyzed which terms are well included and which were lef outside. Notions
like Historie, Historie Naturelle, Gometrie, Antiquit show strong
connectivity to other articles, whereas Morale or Tologie are weak
links. (Blanchard and Olsen 2008)
With the organization the renvoi, Enlightenment thinkers had a tool at
hand to structure information by using the very means of Bchersprache
[book language]. Outside of political control and censorship the authors
of the Encyclopdie were able to assess information, include some and
exclude other parts. By establishing an evaluative link structure the authors
were able to re-construct a discourse, re-name things and re-categorize
Te Enlightenments citations and footnotes established in the late 18th
century, at a time when the number of scholarly publications exploded.
Politics and other interest groups, as referred to above, tried shape
discourses and ideas from the outside, by establishing journals that would
cover some and exclude others. Within these journals, however, scholars
established another structure that is inclusive and exclusive in a similar way
and provides the early predecessor of the Hyperlink structure of the web.
Above all citations and footnotes give authority to the broader argument
of the main text. Te placid objectivity of Roman thinkers attests to
that. Plinius signifcantly gave account of all cited authorities and the
number of facts and empiric observations in each of his 37 volumes large
encyclopedia Naturalis historiae. ( Jormakka 2007 p. 54) Modern search
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 382
engines of the Google kind use this logic and represent the far end of the
authority and logic of the footnote.
Web Search and Like
Tim Berners-Lee, famously introduced the hyperlink structure to the
web, as an of-schedule project at Cern. What they tried to achieve was to,
link the work and scientists of the Electronics and Computing for Physics
Group, scattered in diferent departments and cities. Tis indicates the
close relation of Hyperlink and the academic citation, which it resembles.
Early search engines were ignorant to that and relied on various degrees of
hierarchical order to gather their results. Yahoo! is the acronym for Yet
Another Hierarchical Ofcious Oracle. Information was in aggregated in
a web catalog and sorted in categories and sub categories. Search in the
early internet resembled a system much like the taxonomy of knowledge
used in the Encyclopdie.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin sought to evaluate the citational structure of
the web, presented in their frst paper on Te Anatomy of a Large-Scale
Hypertextual Web Search Engine. (Brin and Page 1998) Te value of a page
according to PageRank is a function of the number of links by other pages
and to the value of the pages that link. As in academic literature, the number
of citations gives authority to the text. Further more, the organization of
the web that search engines imply is essentially chronological; the value of
a page is determined by its history.
To further increase quality and relevance of the results, search engines more
recently introduced personalization of search results. As Larry Page puts
it, the perfect search engine would understand exactly what you mean
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 383
and give you back exactly what you want. (Google 2010) Personalized
search opens spaces of individual information based on the user profle
that resembles the search history. Tis resembles the sorting of users into
groups with demographic or statistic others that share the information as
in database marketing where customers profles (based on their shopping
behavior bonus cards in supermarkets) and is largely criticized by privacy
groups. To provide individual information based on the shopping behavior
of a customer might be one thing, but the afnity of search engines and
marketing instruments is clearly outlined by Googles Eric Schmidt:
Tink about it frst as an advertising system. (Vogelstein 2009)
Facebooks Like-button turned a social network site (that should be
thought of frst as an advertising system) into an information retrieval
service. When the Like buttons API was opened in 2010 the use of it
In tentative approach towards a history of the data that is the basis for
location-based services and augmented reality tools I have tried to sketch
what Bachelard called an epistemological profle for this technology.
(Bachelard 1984) Afer all: as the search algorithms are kept secret and
more so the structure of Facebook a historical account on some parts its
structure might reasonable to start with (other than making educated
As search technologies start to restructure public spaces we witness the
constraints of search are still at hand. Te Google Index is incomplete in the
same way as the index by Callimachus was. Te organization it provides is
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 384
largely market-driven and the idea of personalization introduces strategies
of marketing, that relates to what Foucault called governmentality, to
search technologies. (Foucault 2006 p. 52)
To account on the history of the book was to account the prehistory of
the search technologies. Prehistory as the discourse (or a bundle of
discourses) that eventually transformed into the science [technology] in
question. (Kuhn 1996 p. 21) Te second intend was to show that the
citational structure that is being superimposed on public space originated
in books and periodicals. Facebooks way to supply data appeals to a kind of
vanity and getting and trusting importance in networks you choose. Either
way search technologies structure the raw material by the according to
markets and peer groups. Raw material, is not the information out there,
but the subject matter as constituted by knowledge, its technical means,
and by relation between technology (science) and society. (Althusser 1979
in Althusser and Balibar 1979) Search is productive process that creates
an inside and an outside. With algorithms based on the link-structure, or
networks one likes, search is productive and essentially temporal.
Te pushing of well-established ideas, is fundamental for both technologies
to search the web and derives form its ancestors; be it the citation-logic
of Google that knows stronger and weaker nods or the Like narrative.
Notions of personhood, individual freedom and identity vary in diferent
societies, still, the true self usually relates to be a part of a person that is
not under control. ( Jormakka 2003 p. 220) With this said any virtual
landscape overlapping the actual must have an efect on the latter only
due to the fundamental diference of sustained surveillance.
Te constructivist view depicts the city as a stage for public and political
actions, an in-between that gathers people together in order to both
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 385
relate and separate them Hannah Arendt argued that material objects
embody and transmit conventions and thus communication across human
generations, past and the future. Personalized raw material provided by
search engines and superimposed on public space may restructure social
interactions as well as spatial relations; groups of people may be created
who act at locations that they do not share physically. With the personal
profle responsible for what I can experience, the system of objects, to use
Baudrillards phrase, may then be replaced by a system of actions bounded
to the citizen/the user and its virtual duplicate. (Baudrillard 1999)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 386
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Bachelard, G., 1984. Epistemologie. Ausgewhlte Texte.
Frankfurt/M., Berlin, Wien: Ullstein
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Baudrillard, J. 1988. Te Ecstasy of Communication. Paris: ditions Galile)
Baudrillard, J. Simulacra and simulation. 1999. Ann Arbor, MI: Univ. of Michigan Press
Becker, K. and Stalder, F. (Eds.). 2009.Deep Search. Te Politics
of Search beyond Google. Wien: Studienverlag
Botein, S., Censer, J.R., Ritvo H., 1981. Te Periodical Press in Eighteenth-
Century English and French Society: A Cross-Cultural Approach. In
Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 23, No. 3. pp. 464-490
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Web Search Engine. [online] Available at: http://infolab.stanford.
edu/~backrub/google.html [Accessed 26. Sept. 2010]
Butler, J. 1993. Bodies that matter:on the discursive limits of sex. New York: Routledge
Casson, L., 2001. Libraries in the Ancient World. New Haven: Yale University Press
Chartier, R. 1994. Te Order of Books. Readers, Authors, and
Libraries in Europe between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth
Centuries. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press
Darnton, R., 1979. Te Business of Enlightenment. A Publishing
History of the Encyclopdie 1775-1800. Cambridge, MA:
Te Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press
Darnton R., 2009. Te Case for Books. Past, Present,
and Future. New York: Public Afairs
Duguid, P., 2002. Te Social Life of Imformation. Boston,
MA: Harvard Business School Press
Febvre, L. and Martin, H.J., 1990. Te Coming of the Book. Te
Impact of Printing 1450 1800. London, New York: Verso
Foucault, M., 1977. berwachen und Strafen. Frankfurt am Main: STW 184
Foucault, M., 1980. Te History of Sexuality, vol. 1, New York: Vintage Books
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Foucault, M., 1980. Power/Knowledge. New York: Pantheon Books
Foucault, M., 2006. Die Geschichte der Gouvernementalitt
1 & 2. Frankfurt am Main: STW 1808
Glaisyer, N., 2007. Calculating credibility: print culture, trust and economic fgures
in early eighteenth-century England. Economic History Review, 60, 4, pp. 685711
Jormakka, K., 2003. My Dinner With Arendt in Kuhlman D., Hnilica S.
Jormakka, K., building power. Architektur, Macht, Gender. Wien: Ed. Selene
Jormakka, K., 2007. Geschichte der Architekturtheorie. 3rd ed. Wien: Ed. Selene
Kuhn, T.S., 1996. Te structure of scientifc revolutions.
3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Lyon, D., 2007. Surveillance Studies: An Overview. Cambridge, MA: polity
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W. eds. 1969. French Humanism 1470-1600, New York: Macmillan
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from the Enlightenment to Google. (forthcoming)
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MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 389
Small Texts?:
Text Messages, Art and
Public Spheres
Frauke Behrendt
Research Fellow
Cultures of the Digital Economy Research Institute (CoDE)
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge
Imagine you walk along a street and suddenly you hear a voice that invites
you to send a text message to a certain number. You cannot quite make out
where the voice comes from, but send a text message anyway. Your message
is broadcast loudly into the street once, then becomes interspersed with
messages from other people, becomes shorter and quieter, until the voice
falls silent. You realise the voice comes from one of the security cameras in
the street (fgure 1). Tis is how you might encounter smSage by Ralph
Borland and Tim Redfern that I researched at the Confux festival in
Brooklyn in 2007 and experienced again at the ISEA festival in Dublin
in 2009.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 390
Figure 1: smSage by Redfern and Borland, installed
at a festival in Brooklyn (NYC) in 2007
Te tradition of new genre public art ofen located art in public places
in order to intervene in the public sphere, either through dialogue or by
making a statement. In this paper I investigate how mobile sound art might
also be thought about within the tradition of public art, either because
artists are actively seeking to intervene in it or because an artwork makes
a statement in a public space which seems to question certain aspects of
what might constitute a public sphere, and who gets to speak in it.
During the course of the 20th century, electronic media (including
broadcasting media such as TV and communication media such as the
telephone) tended to be situated in private and indoor spaces. Networked
media such as the internet that arguably enable people to participate in
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 391
public debates or contribute to public spheres (Dahlgren, 2005; Roberts,
2009), have also been largely tied to indoor spaces (such as homes, ofces
or cafes) that were also ofen private spaces. Mobile media started to
reverse this development and allowed people to use (their own) media
(devices) in public and outdoor spaces. At present, mobile media are
mainly used for forms of private communication and consumption such as
phone calls, text messages or iPod listening. Tis paper however discusses
artworks that experiment with a diferent use of mobile media; they open
up private messages to public broadcasts. Drawing on Aug and Flusser,
Fllmer (1999) suggests that public space has lost many of its social and
communicative functions to the media over time, but hopes that public
sound art can be one contribution to a reviving of public space. Tis paper
explores the relationship between the act of reviving public space and
notions of public spheres.
I approach this through an investigation of how the mobile sound
platform smSage engages in making a (transient, micro) public sphere,
however I am at least as interested in the failures of that space as in what
succeeded. Sound Platforms are designed by artists to invite the audience
to contribute sounds that are then placed in the public in specifc ways
(as part of a GPS sound walk, or broadcast by a speaker, for example).
[1] I also briefy introduce two other artworks (TextFm and Tool for
Armchair Activists) that also invite the audience to send text messages
that are broadcast publicly. Habermas public sphere concept and in
particular the contention that acts of communication can constitute an
artwork (Kesters concept of dialogical aesthetic) open up and frame these
discussions. In particular Habermas consideration of the problematic of
the public sphere as small texts and their interactions are discussed in
relation to the practitioners understanding of their engagement with the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 392
public in smSage (Habermas, 1996: 374). Habermas concept of episodic,
occasional and abstract publics, as well as the notion of mobilising public
spheres and his description of how issues can move from the periphery to
the centre of the public further inform the analysis of the artworks in this
1. Habermas Public Sphere
Habermas understands the public sphere as a social phenomenon (1996:
360). Communication is central in establishing the public sphere: Te
public sphere can best be described as a network for communicating
information and points of view or as a social space generated in
communicative action (Habermas, 1996: 360). [2] Habermas explains
In complex societies, the public sphere consists of an intermediary
structure between the political system, on the one hand, and the private
sectors of the lifeworld and functional systems, on the other. It represents a
highly complex network that branches out into a multitude of overlapping
international, national, regional, local and subcultural arenas. (Habermas,
1996: 373)
Underpinning the public sphere is the ideal speech situation, a space
between two (or more) people who communicate with each other,
constituting the speech situation by doing so: Every encounter in which
actors do not just observe each other but take a second-person attitude,
reciprocally attributing communicative freedom to each other, unfolds
in a linguistically constituted public space (Habermas, 1996: 361). Ideal
speech acts have the goal to produce some sort of mutual understanding,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 393
not in terms of a binding law, but in terms of trying to persuade the other
person with the better argument.
As we can see, for Habermas, communication is central in establishing the
public sphere, a social space generated in communicative action (1996:
360). We can read the act of participating in the art works discussed in
this paper - sending a text message - as a communicative act that generates
a social space. Te texts messages that establish these works do not stay in
the realm of private communication as they would do in everyday mobile
phone conversations, instead, they are broadcast into public spaces.
In Conversation Pieces, Kester (2004) develops a concept of a dialogical
aesthetic and draws on Habermas to make a link between aesthetics and
dialogue. In one of Kesters case studies Intervention to Drug-Addicted
Women by WochenKlausur the artists invited a diverse range of
concerned parties to discuss the drug problem in Zurich during several boat
trips on the lake Zurich (Kester, 2004: 110-111). Te participants were
not listening and speaking as people with ofcial roles, but as individuals,
and the artists provided the space and time for this. Kester argues that
this resembles Habermas ideal speech situation: the artists were able to
create a physical and psychological frame around the boat talks, setting
them apart from daily conversation and allowing the participants to view
dialogue not as a tool but as a process of self-transformation (Kester,
2004: 111). Te project did actually lead to a local solution to the problem.
In the mobile sound art platforms discussed in this paper, the dialogue is
not aimed at resolving a specifc social problem, but they are ofering a
platform for dialogue, they enable private communication (text messages)
to become part of a public dialogue (a work of public sound art). In
these artworks the frame is the sound, the noise of having these messages
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 394
broadcast into public spaces. Kester argues that communication art
works tend towards establishing their framework by the very process of
communicating and this observation is relevant for smSage. [3] Te key is
that you do not have to like an art work to start engaging, to open up your
sense, to enter the process of self-transformation - Kester argues that the
very process of participating in the communicative encounter triggers the
process of critical refection (Kester, 2004: 111).
1.1 Multiple Public Spheres
Habermas public sphere concept has been critiqued extensively, in
particular demands for consideration of multiple and diverse public
spheres have been prevalent (e.g. Calhoun, 1992; Fraser, 1992; Silverstone,
1999; Crossley and Roberts, 2004) with Frasers 1992 account being one of
the most prominent ones. Fraser values Habermas concept as conceptual
resource but rejects key assumptions of Habermas concept of the public
sphere as inadequate for existing late-capitalist societies (1992: 110). One
of the main critiques of Fraser and others is Habermas idea of a singular
public sphere.
In Between Facts and Norms (1996) it becomes clear that Habermas
has taken some of this criticism on board. [4] His concept has become
more fuid and he seems to embrace the idea of multiple public spheres:
he observes a substantive diferentiation of public spheres, for example
(Habermas, 1996: 373). Where he talks in the plural he seems to use the
terms publics and public spheres interchangeably, e.g. when he names
some publics to illustrate his point about diferentiated public spheres:
popular science and literary publics, religious and artistic publics, feminist
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 395
and alternative publics, publics concerned with health-care issues, social
welfare, environmental politics (Habermas, 1996: 373-374). He still
talks about a universal public sphere referring to it as the one text;
but he then clarifes that within this overarching public sphere there are
numerous small texts or segmented public spheres (Habermas, 1996:
374). He is insistent about the porosity of the boundaries between them;
they remain permeable and small texts can always build hermeneutic
bridges from one text to the next (Habermas, 1996: 374); this is a main
diference to system theory with its auto-poetic systems (Luhmann, 1994).
In Habermas theory, systems can communicate with each other, they do
not develop a language of themselves; systems are not auto-poetic. All the
various public spheres operate with natural language and thus remain
porous to one another (Habermas, 1996: 374).
Tat Habermas speaks of micro-public spheres as small texts (1996: 374)
resonates with my study of sms-based art - where the audience sends in small
texts. Can these small text messages also be a way to build hermeneutic
bridges, to communicate from one public sphere-let to another? Is making
private small texts being broadcast into public spaces contribute to building
the small text of a micro public sphere? How can we further describe
these small texts, these ephemeral and fragile assemblages?
1.2 Episodic, Occasional and Abstract Publics
Also in Between Facts and Norms, Habermas distinguishes three diferent
levels of the public sphere - episodic, occasional and abstract - depending
on the density of communication, organisational complexity, and range
(Habermas, 1996: 374). Tese levels of public spheres range from episodic
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 396
publics found in taverns, cofee houses, or on the streets; through to
occasional, or arranged publics of particular presentations and events,
such as theatre performances, rock concerts, party assemblies, or church
congresses; to abstract public sphere of isolated readers, listeners, and
viewers scattered across large geographic areas, or even around the globe,
and brought together only through the mass media (Habermas, 1996:
374). Habermas regards the abstract public that is constituted by the mass
media as isolated and scattered and the only connection between them
are the mass media (Habermas, 1996: 317). It is the location (episodic),
the event (occasional) or the media (abstract) respectively that bring the
public together in Habermas model.
In the contemporary environment of pervasive mobile media, are we
dealing with episodic, occasional or abstract publics? Mobile media
users certainly are ofen isolated and geographically dispersed, suggesting
an abstract public. However, now that mobile media are networked,
the listeners, readers and viewers that Habermas describes as isolated
for the mass media are now also speakers, writers and image generators,
for example when making a phone call, sending a tweet or uploading a
picture from their mobile phones. Tese (potentially) collaborative and
connecting activities would traditionally have taken place in specifc
locations or events, pointing to episodic or occasional publics.
In the age of the internet, the locations of episodic publics do not need
to be physical locations (such as pubs or cofee houses) they can also be
established online, thereby combining features of episodic and abstract
publics. At the same time, occasional publics are still (surprisingly)
important, audience fgures of all sorts of life events have been growing for
years, with music festivals being a key example (despite - or maybe because
of - the digital revolution). I argue, that it is in the occasional publics that
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 397
we fnd the key to understanding how to engage publics in mobile media
projects. It is a space where the abstract/episodic publics of mobile media
come together in a physical space for a specifc reason or event, such as an
art festival, a smart mob or a demonstration. Here, they can engage in an
embodies, multi-sensory, social way.
With Habermas concept of episodic, occasional and abstract publics in
mind, we can now return to the mobile sound art work smSage in more
detail and, explore how the piece opens up private text messaging to the
public sphere.
2. smSage: A Mobile Sound Platform
smSage by Ralph Borland and Tim Redfern was premiered at the Confux
Festival in New York in 2007. [5] Confux [6] is a festival of contemporary
psychogeography where projects investigate everyday urban life through
emerging artistic, technological and social practice and aims to re-
imagine the city as a playground, a space for positive change and an
opportunity for civic engagement, as festival organiser Ray writes on the
website (Ray, 2008). smSage was one of many projects at the festival that
were engaging with public space in the streets of the Williamsburg quarter
in Brooklyn (NYC). For this case study I draw upon my experience of the
piece, my observations, and on the interview I conducted with the artists.
Tis is complemented with material from the project website. [7]
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 398
Figure 2: Close-up of the camera housing of smSage, Brooklyn (NYC), 2007
Te smSage unit (with its speaker and mini-computer) sits in a security
camera housing that is attached to a surface in a street as shown in fgure
1 and fgure 2. Te camera is silent but every few minutes it says please
text to this number. If someone does send a text message to this number,
the camera reads out the message at full volume once, then immediately
starts breaking the message down, replacing some of the words with ones
from previous message, then the number of words is reduced. Redfern and
Borland explained that the text messages are read out loud and then as
it starts to disintegrate the message it also starts to diminish in volume
and number of words, so eventually it dies out and goes silent. Afer a few
minutes the piece starts to advertise itself again by asking passers-by to text
to its number.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 399
smSage is self-contained [8] and wireless, consisting of a computer,
a mobile phone, an amplifer and a speaker, all squeezed into a security
camera housing (as detailed in a diagram by the artists, see fgure 3) - that
does not contain an actual camera. [9] Te computer carrying out the
sms-to-speech processing is an embedded gumstix [10] computer running
the open source operating system linux and the incoming messages
are stored on a fash memory card. smSage works with an open source
speech synthesis system and though this phoneme-based system is more
sophisticated than earlier sms-to-speech projects [11] it still features the
unavoidable computery voice. [12]
smSage is also constantly scanning for devices in the vicinity that have
their bluetooth status set to discoverable and are thus revealing their
name. Tis bluetooth scanning aims to use their [the mobile phones]
advertised names to try to elucidate a response, i.e. by saying hey there
Ralph, why not send me a message on 087 1234567?, as their website
explains (Borland and Redfern, 2007).
Te artists conceptualised the project as disguised and embedded in the
city. Tey imagined a surreal experience for somebody walking down the
street and then hear this voice and they stop and then they are like where
is the voice coming from, this mad mumbling voice? And the security
camera is the last place youd expect it to come from.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 400
Figure 3: Technical set-up of smSage as illustrated by the artists
However, when smSage was set-up during the fnal day of the Confux
festival, this coincided with a festival Block Party on the street outside
the festival venue glowlab with street painters, workshops, puppetry,
performances and a DJ playing a large sound system (see fgure 4). smSage
was located close to the block party, and the music was dominating the
soundscape. Te artists comment that the location of smSage at Confux
was at odds with their aim to have the project embedded and passers-
by hearing it on their normal walks. Te artists acknowledged that one
of the aspects of the piece is to work with restricted space, but they had
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 401
a less festival location in mind. From my own observations I agree that
the project works much better in a quiet everyday environment such as a
side street. As soon as the quite street chosen as smSage location at the
festival turned noisy during the party it was impossible to hear the artwork
advertising itself, or the messages sent by the audience.
Figure 4: Part of the crowd attending the Block Party on the fnal
day of the Confux festival (Te sound system and DJ that are
dominating the soundscape are not visible in this picture)
When I asked Redfern and Borland about other locations where they
would like to put smSage up in the future they name a pedestrianised
street in Dublin (where they both live), as this is a location where theres
people passing by and possibly where theres a social scene, a bar, people
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 402
hanging out anyway. At the same time the artists are looking for a quiet
place, underlining how difcult it is to fnd an ideal location for public
art and how especially public sound art has very specifc needs in terms of
location (I return to this discussion below).
One of the main inspirations for the project was an article that had been in
the paper about talking security cameras in England. [13] Tere cameras
enable the ofcials watching the camera footage in real time to talk to any
ofenders from their remote viewing location via a speaker that has been
connected to the camera. Borland explains that the diference between
what they are doing and the speaking cameras in the UK is that the latter
are a way for authority to control people, to enforce the rules - whereas
their work turns the intended function of a talking camera upside down.
For me, there seems to be an interesting tension between the heavily visual
reference of housing the piece in a security camera housing (fgure 2) [15]
and the sound focus of the piece - there is no camera but a speaker (and
other technology) in the housing. I asked the artists if they had considered
that people might interact with the camera in a specifc way because they
might expect that they are flmed while they are texting. Tey replied
that I am not the only one to assume that there is a camera in the housing
as well, Confux organiser Sarah Pace also thought they would have a
record of what happens in front of it. In the interview, the artists briefy
consider the idea of including a camera as it would be a way of building in a
documentation method but they then agreed that It is defnitely not part
of the concept of the piece.
Te talking CCTV camera that inspired smSage is a symptom of the
CCTV society, of surveillance culture. In smSage this power relationship
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 403
of being watched and being talked at is turned around. Te audience is
not watched (although it probably still feels watched because of the visual
reference of the camera housing) and the audience itself contributes
the messages that are then broadcast, not the disembodied and remote
instance of the security frm or state institution that is operating the
speaking camera.
Te assumptions of what a security camera is - visual surveillance, being
watched - are broken in smSage because the visual reference of the camera
housing is in fact concealing a sonic broadcast device - a speaker (and not
a camera). Te artists use of a surveillance camera housing for their piece
is problematic as it raises the question why people should respond to a
surveillance voice invitation. Te artists own surveillance position seems
to deter people from contributing to the piece, rather than moving them
to send in a text message, as I discuss further below.
Smsage is quite a transient intervention, due to security and power
concerns it can only stay up for limited amounts of time. Also, the auditory
communication of broadcasting small texts into public space is of an
ephemeral, transient nature. Tis temporal scale of the piece seems to
recapitulate what is found inside it. In the set-up of the piece the ephemeral
nature of sound seems to be amplifed as each message is only broadcast
once in its entirety, and then fades and gets mixed with other messages.
It would have been possible to program the platform in a diferent way,
for example where messages are repeated. Te materiality of the private
texts messages changes as they are transformed into voice messages, they
are given a voice in public, but it is an ephemeral voice.
Te public constituting the piece by sending messages is linked to the
location of the installation. Does it mean the platform operates like
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 404
a traditional location of episodic publics? [16] Whereas the episodic
publics of taverns of cofee houses would rely on real voices of people
communicating with each other in an indoor location, in smSage a
computer voice is reading out peoples written text messages. Traditional
episodic publics would come together again and again over time, people
returning to the same pub or cafe. Some art platforms might function in a
similar way [17] (but ofen over shorter periods of time such as weeks or
months), [18] but smSage is only installed for a limited amount of time,
making it more like an event.
Is the public made by Smsage thus more occasional? Habermas names
performances, concerts and part congresses as examples of public forming
around an event. Tese more traditional occasional publics have a defned
location and time frame. smSage however has a more open time-frame
than a concert or congress, participants can send their messages anytime
(while the installation is up), but in terms of location it operates in a similar
fashion to occasional publics: you have to be in the location to participate
and experience it. Te occasion for smSage is an art festival, and I will
return to the signifcance of this later.
Te participation in the public sphere of smSage does not only require
bodily presence in the location of the installation, it also requires the
mediated communication of sending a text message. Tis would be more
indicative of Habermas abstract public, of scattered media consumers.
Here, the media are both produced and consumed at once, sending sms
and listening to them. Te participants are not scattered around the globe,
as in Habermas concept of abstract media publics, they need to be in the
very location of the installation.
However, the participants are still scattered (not in space but) in time, a
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 405
temporal scattering that is amplifed by the transient nature of sound. Te
micro public that is established by the small texts sent in by the audience
and broadcast by the installation has aspects of episodic, occasional
and abstract publics. Te pieces engagement with the public can also
be described as ephemeral, transient and fragile, resonating with the
artists own description of smSage as voicing and remixing participants
comments and observations in a transient, ephemeral way (Borland and
Redfern, 2007).
3. Mobilising Public Spheres
Mobile sound art platforms like smSage aim to give a voice to passers-
by in public spaces, to transmit the voice of the public (Borland and
Redfern, 2007), by amplifying their private text messages with a speaker.
Could platforms, artworks like these be a way to mobilise dormant public
spheres? In returning to Habermas public sphere concept, I discuss the
mobilisation of dormant public spheres and the ability of topics to move
from the periphery of the public sphere to the core and illustrate these by
introducing two more artworks, before returning to smSage in the fnal
part of this paper.
Habermas introduces the idea of two diferent states of the public sphere, a
dormant one and a mobilised one. In a public sphere at rest the infuence
of the civil society on the political system is rather small, but in periods
of mobilisation, the structures that actually support the authority of a
critically engaged public begin to vibrate (Habermas, 1996: 379). A
mobilisation of the dormant public sphere takes place in a perceived crisis
situation (Habermas, 1996: 380). According to Habermas,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 406
the actors in civil society thus far neglected in our scenario can assume a
surprisingly active and momentous role. In spite of a lesser organisational
complexity and a weaker capacity for action, and despite the structural
disadvantages, mentioned earlier, at the critical moments of an accelerated
history, these actors get the chance to reverse the normal circuits of
communication in the political systems mode of problem solving.
(Habermas, 1996, p. 380-1)
One of the frst prominent examples for mobile media being used to
mobilise a public was the use of text messages (SMS) to summon people
for demonstrations in the Philippines in 2001 (Rheingold, 2003: 157).
Gordon (Gordon, 2007) also discusses interesting case studies of mobile
phones being used in moments of Crisis (e.g. SARS, London bombings).
Mobile technology can facilitate two forms of mobilisation. As in the
Philippines example, they can be used to gather people for traditional
forms of protest such as demonstrations. But devices such as mobile phones
can also be used for remote forms of activism, where the mobilisation does
not result in a physical gathering. Te art work smSage illustrates this
potential and if we imagine that this platform could be taken over by a
specifc local or political group, this potential would become even more
apparent. Another mobile sound art platform , the Tool for Armchair
Activists, illustrates this.
Te Tool for Armchair Activists is another example of a mobile sound
art platform where the audience is invited to send text messages that are
then broadcast publicly. Te piece was designed by the interdisciplinary
art group Troika (Sebastien Noel, Conny Freyer and Eva Rucki) in
collaboration with Moritz Waldemeyer in 2005. As can be seen in fgure
5, it is a self-contained unit meant to be strapped to a lamppost in front
of pro-eminent [sic] buildings like the house of parliament, or other
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 407
institutional buildings in front of which many protests occur (Troika,
2005). Participants can send text messages to an advertised phone number.
Te unit receives the messages, reads them with a computer voice and plays
them loudly via a bullhorn.

Figure 5: Tool for Armchair Activists by Troika 2005
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 408
Troika advertise as one of the main features of the tool that the activists
can stay warm in their comfortable living rooms instead of the hassle
of sitting in the rain, waiting for your favourite MP to pass by (Troika,
2005). One of the main diferences to the other artworks discussed in this
paper is the attitude of the artists: Troika regards the work as ironic (Baker,
2006), labels protests as rants (Troika, 2005) and thus the group was
amused when the work was featured on an activists blog (Debatty, 2006).
Troika seems to be cynical both about traditional forms of protest (rant)
and about the remote kind of protest that their work comments upon
(armchair). Consequently, they do not see themselves in the tradition
of remote activism with its culture of online campaigning and hacktivism
that has invented numerous new ways for remote (electronic) intervention.
My discussion of Tool for Armchair Activists is based on documentation
by the artists, and on reviews of the piece. From the material at hand I
cannot comment on the actual use of this platform (as I do for smSage).
With its contradiction of enabling remote protests while having a cynical
view of it, Tool for Armchair Activists still shows the potential of (mobile
sound art) platforms to mobilise dormant public spheres by enabling the
public to send private forms of communication such as text messages to a
public address system that broadcasts these messages into the public.
4. Moving from Periphery to Centre
Habermas also gives a detailed account of how issues can move from the
periphery of the public sphere to the core in three diferent ways. To answer
the central question of who can place issues on the agenda and determine
what direction the lines of communication take, Habermas modifes
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 409
a model by Cobb, Ross and Ross (Habermas, 1996: 379). Cobb et. al.
have three diferent models for how new topics can be pushed from frst
initiatives to decision-making bodies: inside access model, mobilisation
model, outside initiative model, depending on who is raising the issue and
how it is moved to the decision making bodies (Habermas, 1996: 379).
If the initiative comes from inside the political system, and stays inside it
without any infuence or inclusion of the public sphere, they talk about
the inside access model. If the proponents of the issue must mobilise the
public sphere to successfully pursue an initiative that originated inside the
political system, it is the mobilisation model as Habermas summarises
(Habermas, 1996: 379). Tese frst two models are the most common ones
because the power of agenda setting is with the Government leaders rather
than with the parliamentary complex (Habermas, 1996: 380), at least in
times of relative political stability.
For this paper most relevant is the third model - the outside initiative
model - where the forces of the initiative are located at the periphery,
outside the purview of the political system (Habermas, 1996: 380). For
Habermas, the mass media mainly draws on sources by professionals
that originate in the centre. Terefore it is much more difcult to start
and manage issues from the periphery, but Habermas gives a long list of
successful examples that made this move, from environmental to Tird
World issues (1996: 380). Habermas credits initiatives on the periphery
- from associations (...) and cultural establishments (...) to public-interest-
groups (...) and churches or charitable organisations - as examples
for the informal, highly diferentiated and cross-linked channels of
communication that operate at the periphery of the public sphere (1996:
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 410
Along this process of moving from the periphery to the core, the issues
need to be taken up by institutions such as newspapers and interested
associations, clubs, professional organisations, academies and universities
(Habermas, 1996: 381). Here, the mass media have a crucial role; they
are the main means of moving issues from the periphery onto the public
agenda: Only through their controversial presentation in the media do
such topics reach the larger public and subsequently gain a place on the
public agenda (Habermas, 1996: 381). Habermas describes various
activities that can boost this process, such as sensational actions, mass
protests and incessant campaigning (1996: 381). I argue that art can also
be part of this process of moving issues form the periphery to the centre.
For Habermas, art is part of the literary public sphere. He argues that
art can be a way to connect personal life experience and public spheres
with its own language:
Besides religion, art, and literature, only the spheres of private life have an
existential language at their disposal, in which socially generated problems
can be assessed in terms of ones own life history. Problems voiced in the
public sphere frst become visible when they are mirrored in personal
life experience. To the extent that these experiences fnd their concise
expression in the language of religion, art, and literature, the literary
public sphere in the broader sense, which is specialised for the articulation
of values and world disclosure, is intertwined with the political public
sphere. (Habermas, 1996: 365) [my emphasis]
Habermas thus makes an interesting link between art and the political
public sphere in describing art, literature and religion as specialised for
the articulation of values and world disclosure (1996: 365). If art has
the capacity to fnd a language to voice personal life experience, this is
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 411
potentially quite a powerful position. Art can produce condensed versions
of personal life experiences and then bring them out into the public sphere.
If these experiences are problems that are situated at the periphery of the
public sphere, art might take up a similar function as media in moving
issues from the periphery to the core of the public sphere. For the examples
discussed in this paper, this function is not only centred around the content
of the messages sent in by the participants, it also functions through the
very process of communication itself.
To illustrate my argument that (mobile sound) art projects can be one of
these activities that can help agenda-setting from the periphery, I introduce
another example of a mobile sound art platform where the public sends in
text messages from their mobile phones that are subsequently broadcast
publicly. TextFm [19] is an interactive installation by the British artists
Matthew Fuller and Graham Harwood where text messages are transformed
into a sound collage that is broadcast on radio or via a sound system. [20]
Participants are invited to send messages to a phone number that has been
published in advance. In addition to the content of the message, people
can add parameters concerning the style of the computer voice by adding
specifc code: the language (e.g. English or German) as well as pitch and
speed of the voice (both on a scale form 0 to 9). Te text messages are then
read out by speech synthesis sofware according to these parameters and
fnally broadcast on a local radio station. Te work is constantly changing,
depending on how many people participate at any given moment. When
many people take part, the incoming text messages weave a seamless carpet
of words, whereas during quieter periods only the a continuous background
sound, (a mix of unprocessed bird song) [21] with the occasional messages
in between were broadcast on radio or by anything with a sufcient sound
output, such as a public address system (Fuller and Harwood, 2004: 238).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 412
Figure 6: Te technical set-up of TextFm by Fuller and Harwood (my
illustration). Here, only the radio output is illustrated, but in some instances
of the piece, the messages have also been broadcast via sound systems
In summer 2002 TextFm was installed in collaboration with Public
Netbase to support a campaign for the re-location of this local alternative
media institution. Public Netbase put up a Basecamp, an orange tent in
the streets of Viennas museums quarter, which was open to the public (see
fgure 7). With the tents new site, Public Netbase calls attention to the
many preconditions for its relocation into the Museumsquarter [sic] that
have yet to be realised, as the institutions website claims (Netbase, 2002).
Te Public Netbase website adds that the orange tent is a blazing
symbol for a critical cultural practice, i.e. a monolithic landmark for the
much desired cultural diversity that is regularly and inefectively conjured
up in the context of the Museumsquarter and in addition that Textfm
turns it into a sonar media installation where passers-by and remote
users can listen to and interact with Text-FM (Netbase, 2002).
In an interview Fuller describes that during the three-month installation in
the tent in Vienna, the use got really out of control, turning into a social
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 413
process itself (Dauerer, 2002). [22] In a later article, Fuller states that
Public Netbase supported Textfm and also took it and turned it into
something with their own favour and daring, connecting the system up to,
at diferent times, a public address system; CB radio, with sets installed in
bars and cafes; community radio (Fuller, 2009). Te way Public Netbase
used Textfm in their campaign echoes Habermas concept of moving
issues from the periphery to the centre of public spheres.
Figure 7: TextFm as a public installation in Vienna in 2002.
Te sound is broadcast via a PA system (and via Internet)
As we can see from these descriptions, at this particular TextFm installation,
the sound was not broadcast on radio, instead, a PA was used for audio
output. In addition, people could listen to the audio stream on the internet
(and also send messages via a web interface). Te internet access was the
idea of the host institution that aimed to promote Viennas media culture
and to locate it in a global context. Te artists remained sceptical about the
internet option: Tis initiative efectively de-localised the installation
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 414
that was originally meant to fnd out whether a rich interactive culture of
use could - following the London pirate radio scene - be developed in an
urban area restricted by the broadcast range of a radio transmitter, or other
means of broadcast using the materials of TextFm (Fuller and Harwood,
Te artists log of the text messages sent in to various TextFm installations
shows that the participants invented all sorts of uses for the platform:
Some people used the system for sloganising, conversations, insults,
meeting arrangements, fyering for DJ sets, asking questions, setting up
conversations, as the artists discuss in an interview (Kasprzak, 2002). A
very diferent use was more reminiscent of concrete or sound poetry. Such
users would send repeated clusters of characters. For instance a message
might comprise of: ugh a ugh a ugh a ugh a ugh a ugh a ugh a... et cetera
(Fuller and Harwood, 2004).
Fuller and Harwoods key interest was creating an open media system
that addresses issues such as censorship, legal issues and technological
limitations (e.g. length of a text message) (Fuller and Harwood, 2004: 241).
Te artists understand TextFm as an open system that illustrates their
sense of the term Media Ecology. [23] Te work also illustrates Fullers
concept of speculative sofware [that] can be understood as opening up a
space for the re-invention of sofware by its own means (Fuller, 2003: 30).
Harwood and Fullers TextFm platform opened up a dynamic space that is
played by the participants and their mobile devices. Inspired by Bertholt
Brechts vision of radio as a two-way device amongst others, their aim was
to open up a novel space for communication and allow the mobile phone
to tak[e] voice in the city (Fuller and Harwood, 2004: 240-241). I argue
that in allowing private text messages to enter public space loudly, pieces
like TextFm can take part in mobilising public spheres, in moving issues
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 415
from the periphery to the centre of the public spheres.
To go beyond the discussions of concepts of mobile sound art platforms,
it is now time to return to the experience of smSage- and to discuss the
pragmatics of it, the making of the piece by the audience rather than the
making of it in the concept of the artists. Afer relating specifc aspects
of Habermas public sphere concept - the mobilising of dormant public
spheres and the moving of issues from the periphery to the centre of public
spheres - to the mobile sound art works TextFM and Tool for Armchair
Activists it is time to revisit the key example of this paper: smSage.
5. Making and Breaking smSage
In this section I return to discussing the art work smSage and shif my
focus from the aims and concepts of the artists to the actual experience of
the piece at the Confux festival. Borland and Redferns platform aims
to transmit the voice of the public (Borland and Redfern, 2007). Te
actual experience of smSage challenges some of the artists concepts and
it is this breaking down of several aspects of the art work, for example the
breaking of the communication required to make the piece that holds
an interesting tension. Te making and the breaking of the alternative,
transient public spheres of the mobile sound art works discussed in this
paper are intrinsically linked. If small texts establish the piece, what
happens if they are not being sent or if they cannot be heard?
Urban sociologist Sassen argues that art and activism are ways of making
public that are outside the corporate world (Sassen, 2006: 20). She
distinguishes between public access space on one hand and public space
on the other hand - the latter requires making [my emphasis] (Sassen,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 416
2006: 21). She links her discussion of the relation between globalisation
and locality, the complex interstices of various networks and localities, to
art and activist projects such as Digital City Amsterdam or Mongrel.
Sassen suggests that new media artist allows for:
the possibility of constructing forms of globality that are neither part of
global corporate media or consumer frms, nor part of elite universalisms
or high culture. It is the possibility of giving presence to multiple local
actors, projects and imaginaries in ways that may constitute alternative and
counter-globalities. (Sassen, 2006: 25)
Sassen reminds us that the alternative spaces or (globalities) that these
media art projects suggest require making. Te projects she mentions -
as well as the projects discussed in this paper - are making a public space
capable of supporting communicative action. But I argue that the making
of these spaces is at least as interesting as the breaking of these spaces. For
smSage it seems to be impossible to make this alternative public sphere,
this counter globality, without breaking it at the same time. I am not
attacking the artists for the fact it breaks, I am discussing how difcult
it is to make these spaces. I am investigating their project not through its
formal architectures only but through how it worked in practice - when it
always broke.
5.1 Texting Impossible
For the frst two days of the Confux festival in 2007 smSage was not
installed yet, and the artists nowhere to be seen - they were working around
the clock to get the piece up and running. Te main technical problem
was related to the diference between European and US mobile phones
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 417
networks. For the remaining two days of the festival smSage was up,
but was not working as intended: it was still not possible to text in - the
camera was broadcasting messages that had been pre-recorded by the
artists. Tis gap between the concept of the piece and the actual experience
at the festival was caused by technical problems. Te supposedly global
communication technology of mobile phones turns out to be not that
easily adaptable to diferent countries. Tis caused huge problems when
the piece came to be set up in a specifc location. Te artists frustration
with this unravels the promise of easy global communication.
One of the main challenges in developing the piece was the interaction
between mobile phone and computer. Te artists developed the piece in
Europe (Ireland), with a European mobile phone and network. On arrival
for the festival in the US, Borland and Redfern realised that although the
mobile phone was supposed to work on the US network as well, it did not:
We brought a number of phones (...) with us and as we arrived on Monday
we put a SIM card in and expected it to work - and it didnt connect. Tey
tried to solve this by order[ing] the exact same model of phone but one
that is made for an American band. But even with this American phone
the communication between phone and computer seems to be a bit tricky.
Were so nearly there. We did get it running. And then it crashed. It keeps
crashing. Te artists frustration with the technology (that is meant to be
global, to not care where it is) breaking down is understandable, because
this means that the audience was not able to send in their text messages to
make the piece.
In the interview, the artists also discuss the relation between the technical
difculties, and the economic background of the piece: we are just a small
partnership of artists rather than a huge engineering frm who can get
people to solve these things on an engineering level. Redfern and Borland
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 418
work with a tiny budget and did not receive any funding from the festival
or other sources to develop the piece. Tey applied for arts council funding
in Ireland to cover the travel costs but are not sure if they will receive it.
Teir department at the University of Dublin is paying for some of the
hardware and they hope to receive some funding for future exhibitions of
At the Confux festival the piece was technically not working and the
audience could not send in their text messages that were supposed to
constitute the piece, by transmit[ing] the voice of the public (Borland
and Redfern, 2007). Te making of public spheres that smSage was
aiming to enable was broken on the level of the technology that was
meant to facilitate this communication.
5.2 No Messages
Even when smSage is working technically, there is room for break down.
Te piece (as most interactive/interventionist media art) is asking quite
a lot of its users, expecting them to walk around the neighbourhood, to
stop and listen to the installation, to get their phones out and send a text
message to the advertised number. Te breaking of the piece discussed in
this section concerns the possibility of non-participation in the piece.
When I encountered smSage again, at the ISEA 2009 [24] in Dublin
(Ireland), the piece was working, as the artists assured me. (For unknown
reasons I was however unable to send a text message from my specifc
English mobile phone.) Tis Dublin set-up is shown in fgure 8 and fgure
9. I observed the smSage installation outside one of the festival exhibition
openings for about an hour. [25] In fgure 8 we can see festival visitors
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 419
standing in front of the windows of a gallery with smSage positioned
above their heads. During this time, several members of the festival
audience sent in text messages that were broadcast into the Dublin street.
Tese were members of the festival audience who knew about the piece
from the conference material and the exhibition the piece was a part of.

Figure 8: smSage at the 2009 ISEA festival in Dublin: A member of the
festival audience texting to the installation (camera at top of the photo)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 420
Figure 9: During my short period of observation afer the festival audience had
moved on fom the exhibition opening, I did not see any passers-by interacting
with smSage (on the facade on the lef) at the ISEA 2009 in Dublin
Afer a while, the festival audience that was attending the exhibition
opening moved on to the next event. I stayed on for a little while, keen to
observe passers-by stopping to interact with smSage. During this - very
limited - observation period, I did not see anybody that stopped to listen
to the installation or to send in their own messages (see fgure 9). If the
making of mobile sound art platforms relies on the participation of the
audience, on the sending in of text messages for example, to establish the
piece (in action, not as concept), then non-participation is also a way
to break the piece, in the same way that participation makes it. Tis
observation is not meant as criticising the piece, it is an observation that is
also true for many other pieces of interactive and public art, but that is not
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 421
ofen discussed. Smsage attracted some members of the festival public to
make the piece (in Dublin), but not the general public.
To grapple with this question on what kind of audience smSage is speaking
to (or not), what kind of public is making the piece (or not) I return to my
earlier discussion of Habermas model of episodic, occasional and abstract
public in the age of pervasive mobile media. smSage aims to speak to an
episodic public that frequents the streets of a specifc neighbourhood, but
also engages with the occasional public of the audience of the art festival it
is part of. Te interaction with the piece is via mobile media, pointing to an
abstract public of media users. Like many other mobile media projects the
intended audience seems to be very broad: anyone who happens to walk
past regularly (episodic) plus the festival audience (occasional) plus remote
media audiences (abstract) - without taking into consideration the specifcs
of the particular mobile media public. For platforms of mobile (sound)
art the occasion needs to be made by the artists, not only by the media
(setting up the kit to broadcast text messages) but also by an engagement
with the physical and social context of the occasion and its location.
A critical engagement with the actually physical location and its social
context, the people who inhabit and frequent and make the space is crucial.
Engagement with the way mobile media already operate in these spaces is
necessary to fnd a fruitful dialogue between the physical, the social and
the media context in establishing publics. Tis is difcult - but the anytime
anywhere promise of mobile media does not work. Platforms ask people
to be engaged, to interact, to contribute, to make the piece. Te audience
does need to have the interest to engage, and this needs to be realised in
platform pieces of mobile sound art.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 422
Te artists seem to presume that people (the public) would want to
contribute to smSage. Working with an invitation to contribute spoken
by an unknown computer voice (please text to...) and broadcast by a
surveillance technology (CCTV camera) in a fairly random location,
does not take into consideration the context of the specifc public in the
location of the installation. Tis explains partly why the public choose not
to respond or did not see this as speaking into the public.
5.3 Cannot Hear
Another make or break moment in mobile sound art is the sound itself.
If the actual installation blends in visually (CCTV cameras are ubiquitous
in many Western cities, and especially Irish and English ones), and the
sound of it is not heard (because of a noisy urban environment), then
participation becomes difcult because the piece is in efect invisible and
In Dublin, because of the trafc and the many conversations going on
amongst the festival audience it was difcult to understand the smSage
messages being broadcast. And if we think back to the Confux set-up
of smSage, there the sound of the installation was overpowered by the
sound of the block party that was going on at the same time (fgure 4). It
is almost an irony that a piece of public sound art that intends to generate
a public sphere is being so easily displaced by a more traditional kind of
sonic public space activity the block party. For smSage to be able to give
a voice, everybody has to be silent frst. Te technological set-up implicitly
makes these impossibly disciplinarian demands on its potential audience
and thus fails to live up to its artists intentions.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 423
Te examples discussed in this paper have illustrated that artistic
interventions in public do not need to be eye-opening, they can also be
ear-opening. Sound art challenges dominant textual cultures and visual
paradigms of art. Te artworks discussed in this paper are using speakers,
public address systems or bullhorns to broadcast sound into public spaces.
Te sonic politics of public sound art, the way it engages with the local
soundscape is also crucial in establishing the piece. While loud sound art
can be imposing, quiet sound art can be overheard, rendering the piece
6. Conclusion
Drawing on Habermas concept of (multiple) public spheres, I argued that
the kinds of public spheres that mobile media establish are a curious mix
of episodic, occasional and abstract (Habermas, 1996:374). Abstract and
scattered media publics can be brought together as occasional publics at
certain events (such as participating in an artwork) that are rather episodic
(e.g. on a street corner). Tese micro-publics are established through small
texts in a temporary intervention or platform, making them ephemeral
(sound) and transient (you walk past). Te notion of mobilising dormant
public spheres that begin to vibrate (Habermas, 1996:379) was examined
in relation to the mobile sound art work Tool for Armchair Activists. I
then argued how art can be one way to move issues from the periphery to
the centre of public spheres, and illustrated this with the artwork TextFm.
In the light of these concerns, I discussed the mobile sound art platform
smSage throughout this paper, focussing on the concept of the piece frst,
and on the actual experience of the piece later on, cumulating in a debate
around the making and breaking of public spheres in this piece.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 424
Tis discussion demonstrated how complex and difcult it is to make
public art spaces that can act as a public sphere. Even when working in an
art space (installation at a festival), and with accessible technology (text
messages) which are idealised spaces - it is difcult, always provisional and
in the making. In the process of making the piece, I pointed out several
ways this process broke down: when the technology was not working (i.e. it
was not possible to contribute), when people choose not to contribute (i.e.
just walk past) and when people did not hear or see the piece (because of the
surrounding noise and the ubiquity of CCTV cameras). Te text messages
that make smSage can only be broadcast if the piece works technically
and people do actually send in messages, and the broadcast messages can
only be heard if the urban soundscape the installation is positioned in does
not drown out the voice of the piece. Tis illustrated the complexity of
making a mobile sound art platform.
smSage and the other artworks discussed in this paper were examples of the
category sound platforms that I developed in my taxonomy of mobile sound
art. Te artists build the platform, the audience contributions make the piece
- this is how they operate in s nutshell. Te building of the platform and
the audience contributions are of course intrinsically linked. Tis paper has
highlighted how difcult it is to build such platforms where the audience
contributes to the piece, making the artwork by mobile media interaction,
and it is precisely because the contributions by the public are required. Tis
makes the spaces made by these platforms so fragile: they require more
generosity from the people participating than ofen acknowledged by the
I argued that critical engagement with the - physical, social and media -
context of the platform is crucial for the audience to take up the invitation
of contribution to the platform. Te public needs to have a desire to engage
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 425
with the piece, for example by sending a text message. Tose platforms
(textFm, for example) that were situated in a body of discourse, an existing
discussion had more small texts to establish a temporary public sphere,
than those who were more focused on the technical aspects (smSage for
example). Tis suggests that situating platforms of mobile sound art in an
existing community or discourse, for example in relation to a contested issue
(such as regarding the ownership or history of a certain public place) would
allow for a more critical engagement with the relevant physical and social
context, and thus allow for more small texts to establish temporary but
relevant publics.
Tis argument brings new ways of public art where audiences contribute
with mobile media back to established discourses of new genre public art
and especially community-related public art projects. Criticisms of public
art (e.g. who is in a position to give a voice to the community?) and its
sometimes dominating intentions (e.g. who got asked before somebody
installed a statue that is supposed to relate to a neighbourhood?) and
excessive expectations (e.g. how happy the community will be to engage)
- remind us that public art does not work better just because we use new
media, and art isnt public just because it appears in a public place.
However, the presented examples feature a use of sound in public that is not
commercialised (e.g. Muzak) and individualised (e.g. iPod). Instead the use
of sound in these examples enables some sort of collaboration, where the
process of communicating makes the work of art by opening up the private
communication (of text messages) to a public exchange. Tis is a slightly
hopeful argument, hopeful that despite ever more commercialised public
spaces and (mobile) media, artists fnd ways to open up alternative spaces,
to establish local, episodic, fragile public sphere-lets or micro publics. Te
making of these is idealistic, and difcult, but needed - even if they break.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 426
[1] For a defnition of sound art platforms see (Behrendt, 2010)
[2] Parts of this section of this paper have been published previously as Behrendt, F.
(2008). Texting and Calling Public Spheres: Mobile Phones, Sound Art and Habermas. In
M. Hartmann, P. Rssler, & J. R. Hfich (Eds.), Afer the Mobile Phone? Social Changes
and the Development of Mobile Communication (pp. 35-54). Berlin: Frank & Timme.
[3] and also TextFm and Tool for Armchair Activists, as discussed below.
[4] I work with the 1996 translation of Habermas 1992 Between Facts and Norms.
[5] I experienced the piece again in 2009, as discussed below.
[6] Te Confux festival was founded by Christina Ray and
David Mandl in 2003 and is produced by glowlab.
[7] Te project got some brief press coverage. Most noteworthy is that is was mentioned
in a New York Times article about the confux festival (Schwendener, 2007). smSage
was also featured on two more prominent blogs: MAKE magazine blog (Brucker-Cohen,
2007), and the Networked_Music_Review Blog (Green, 2007) as well as on several minor
blogs. However, none of these sources contribute further information about the piece.
[8] Redfern and Borland also aim to make smSage self-sufcient by powering it with
a solar panel (at the moment they cannot leave it up as the battery needs recharging).
[9] I return to this issue later on in this paper.
[10] Gumstix are a popular choice in the mobile developer community and
advertised on the company website as: the worlds smallest full function,
open source computers [...] marketed to companies, product designers and
hobbyists in more than forty countries worldwide. (gumstix, n.d.)
[11] E.g. Simpletext that was developed by Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Tim Redfern
and Duncan Murphy and has been performed since 2003 (Brucker-Cohen et al.,
2003). Te audience can infuence the audiovisual performance with text messages
from their mobile phones (and alternatively via internet from their laptops).
[12] In the future, the artists might design diferent voices for it,
for example with diferent personalities, from manic to calm, by
adjusting pitch and volume, as they discuss in the interview.
[13] Te BBC news article Talking CCTV scolds ofenders
covers this story they mention (BBC News, 2007).
[14] Another link between CCTV, sound and art was explored in Track-
Te-Trackers (2003) by Annika Ruest (Ruest, 2003). While walking through
town one hears the presence of surveillance camera on the earphones. Areas
densely populated with surveillance cameras produces a dense texture of
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 427
knocking sounds; each knocking represents one camera and gets louder when
approaching it. Participants are invited to add more camera positions to the
database using the mobile tracker device they also carry around for listening.
[15] Te discussion of the camera brings up another interesting topic public art is
always facing: how can artists make sure that their piece is not stolen (unless this is part
of the piece of course)? Initially, Borland and Redfern were hoping to just leave the
camera up, but then it started to become quite precious with all the technology in it.
Te artists thus need to consider to carefully place it in terms of it being somewhere
where its out of easy reach. Redfern and Borland know from previous experience with
public art that they also need to look at methods of attachments which are hard to
take down (...) and you got to use special lock nuts - the irony is that not only public
sculptures, but also ordinary security cameras also have to be protected in that way.
[16] As discussed above, see section Episodic, Occasional and Abstract Publics.
[17] For example Park Fiction in Hamburg (See
Wieczorek, 2006; Schmidt-Wulfen, 2004).
[18] Hirschhorns Bataille Monument (2002) for
example (see Basualdo and Laddaga, 2004).
[19] Te spelling of this work both by the artists and by the press is inconsistent,
including Text FM, Text.fm and Text-FM. Here, I use only one spelling:
TextFm, unless using quotes that include a diferent spelling.
[20] TextFm has been shown several times in 2001 and 2002.
[21] Te artists used this background sound in order to signal to the
audience that the system is still working even if no messages are currently
being received and broadcast (Fuller and Harwood, 2004: 240).
[22] My translation of a German newspaper article. Te original reads:
Wir haben es seit drei Monaten in einem Zelt in Wien installiert. Es
ist interessant, wie der Gebrauch dabei vllig auer Kontrolle geriet und
selbst zu einem sozialen Prozess geworden ist. (Dauerer, 2002).
[23] Fullers understanding of Media Ecology - a term originally coined by McLuhan
(2008: 271) in the 1970s - is that all media be taken as mutational felds and
aggregations of force, subject to change by multiple dynamics, conjunction with new
devices, techniques and usages (Fuller and Harwood, 2004; see also Fuller, 2005).
[24] ISEA is the International Society for Electronic Arts that holds biannual
(now annual) conferences and exhibitions at host institutions.
[25] Due to my own speaking engagements at the conference I was unable
to spend more time with the piece. It was only installed during the afernoon
and evening of this specifc day of the conference (31 August 2009).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 428
Basualdo, C. & Laddaga, R. (2004) Rules of Engagement: Art and
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Rssler, P. & Hfich, J.R.) Frank & Timme, Berlin, pp. 35-54.
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Spaces. Ph.D. thesis, University of Sussex.
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the public sphere Blackwell Publishing/Te Sociological Review, Oxford.
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Dispersion and Deliberation. Political Communication, 22, 147162.
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MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 430
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 431
Social Media Platforms
as Strategic Models
for Local Community Development
Tanya Sndergaard Tof
MA in Media Studies
Te New School New York
Website: www.tanyatof.wordpress.com
Te use of new media technologies for social collaboration and
information exchange online has become widespread in the beginning of
the 21st century, connecting social media users in countless global, social
communities. It seems however like social places online are increasing
in tandem with local distances between people ofine, where social
media provides an alternative to the social engagement in local, physical
environments. Te thesis of this paper explores the possibilities for re-
developing a local sense of place through the kinds of social practices
that are customarily employed online, in order to create a connected,
local sense of place. I will thus propose a strategic social media model for
local community development as an extension of existing urban and rural
planning and development practices; a social media-strategic architecture
that facilitates the potential of the contemporary nature of participation
and collaboration in online social media networks to develop a rural
village through activities in the local community.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 432
Developing a meaningful sense of place
I hardly even recall how we managed to arrange for our late afernoon
play dates on Nrrebro Street, equipped with roller blades, small-size
basketballs and hula hop rings. Maybe we captured a word of mouth
on the bus home from school; maybe we were able to see the other kids
starting to gather on the street. We were always about ten of us, and we
came from diferent streets of the village. Our social engagement had a
beauty of randomness to it, as we rarely pre-planned for meeting up. We
were a local bunch of kids, sharing the kid-scape of this rural village of
Hallund in the northern part of Denmark, and we had a strong sense about
what it meant to be a local kid around this place. Maybe this was because,
in our miniature world, this was the only opportunity we had to be social
among our peers. It was sometime in the early 1990s; I was only familiar
with the phenomenon of the cell phone through a radio-based, portable
calling-machine that my dad brought with him into the pig shed, and my
parents had not yet bought our very frst computer. As children, we do not
think about how our practices of playing and dreaming form a symbolic,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 433
meaningful space over-layering the physical place, or how the constellation
of our practices forms what a place means to us. But childrens play creates
local spatial stories, from their imaginations and memories, and these
stories are in continuous exchange with the physical place. As Michel de
Certeau reminds us, stories carry out a labor that transforms places into
spaces and spaces into places (De Certeau 1988, 118). In that sense, our
engagement with a place develops our attachment to it, and in that, we are
developing a sense of it. Te thesis of this paper emphasizes the importance
of a strong sense of geographic locality as a premise for preserving cultural
capital and natural assets of a destination, stimulate social engagement and
for developing a place from a bottom-up approach.
The place-making complex of rural villages
Rural villages all over Europe are losing the sense of place they once owned.
Young people are moving away; the infux of new inhabitants is low; local
shops, schools and kindergartens are being shut down; and rural businesses
like fshing and farming are loosing their economic signifcances (Srensen
and Skou 2010, 10). Financial structures are increasingly formed by
economies of scale, and small businesses are facing deadly competition
from chain stores in the neighboring bigger cities. As the villages are
loosing their population and drivers, they are loosing their lifeblood and
the foundation for preserving and developing a local sense of place, too.
A local town or city can be considered the stage set of the inhabitants
hopes and aspirations (Morley 2001, 429), and without a strong sense of
local place, the foundation is fragile. One such village that is slowly loosing
its sense of place, is the rural village of Hallund, situated in the northern
part of Denmark, in the Municipality of Brnderslev. Hallund consists
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 434
of approximately 120 houses and small farms. Te village originally
developed around the train track as the most progressive village in the
province. Houses and farms are spread out in an oblong formation as if
hanging on to what used to be the main infrastructural nerve of the main
street, Slvgade, except from a few detached and disused farms. Hallund is
a quiet city, however it has a signifcant number of local associations, with
a local sports club, a hunting club, a scout association, a citizen association
as well as political associations and a weekly local newspaper. Although the
village is tied together in small associations, these associations have limited
means of communicating to the outer edges about their activities, both in
terms of inviting newcomers to join, as well as of promoting the village as
an attractive place to live. Most of the channels for informing about local
initiatives and events have disappeared over the past few decades. Social
connection and information sharing used to take place via three diferent
physical channels in the village of Hallund: on the back of the weekly
local newspaper, on the side faade of the bus stop at the citys main trafc
intersection, and at the bulletin board at the local grocer. Tese channels
served to announce jobs and services such as babysitting, window cleaning,
bikes for sale, the starting dates of sport seasons and event announcements
by the local gym, invites for open communal dinners, Monday nights
traditional board games for the elderly, and collections for funerals or
charities. In 2009, the grocer shop closed and the bus stop space was sold
to advertisements. An enclosed, transparent information box on the facade
of an old warehouse on the main street is the only way of rapid distribution
of mass information, on small paper notes, to the general inhabitants of
Hallund. Tese may live several kilometers from each other. Te facade
of the warehouse is not a natural gathering place, so except from a few
elderly passing by through the day, the information box is not an efective
information channel.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 435
Te weekly newspaper is also a way of distributing information about
local activities, however with a weeks delay and only to the people who
keep the newspaper on top of the more informative regional edition.
Te neighboring town of Jerslev acts as a suburban connection point
for surrounding rural villages like Hallund, providing a kindergarten, a
school for children up to the 9th grade, a village hall, and a handful of
small businesses. Relaying media messages across villages such as Hallund
and Jerslev is impossible, unless people physically travel to the respective
city grocers, bus stops, or purchase the local newspapers for the particular
neighbor village to gain information. Hallund is an example of a rural village
with social activities, but poor channels to organize these and communicate
them to all inhabitants. Te lack of immediate communications channels
makes it difcult for newcomers and local inhabitants to engage with the
established associations, and to participate and create new social initiatives.
Social, local practices serve to make the villages vibrant and alive, and to
create a shared sense of locality.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 436
The qualities of a geographical sense of locality
Locality in this context is referred to as a somehow geographically
based concept. Arjun Appadurai describes locality as both a structure of
feeling, a property of social life, and an ideology of situated community
(Appadurai 1996, 189). Beyond the beauty of an emotional attachment
and the comfort of a sense of belonging to the place in which one lives,
a strong sense of geographical locality among inhabitants frames the
coherence of a place. Coherency in this perspective does not relate to a
coherent and shared way of lifestyle or religion, which might carry a sense
of gentrifcation and exclusion; instead, I will emphasize the main quality
of geographical locality as the motivation for engaging with a places local
social oferings, and for participating in taking part in the places positive
development. As rural villages are loosing their sense of locality, the social
life disappears in tandem with the decaying attractiveness of the place, and
in this process, the sense of locality is declining as well. What I strive to
emphasize is the connection between a sense of locality and a strong and
lively community. In Appadurais description of the concept of locality, he
relates it directly to the idea of a neighborhood (Appadurai 1996, 179). A
shif from place to people in terms of situating where locality should be
recreated carries new potential in the new media paradigm.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 437
Sense of place in new media
We are becoming less and less dependent on the activities and entertainment
of our physical environment, because social engagement can easily be
achieved through far-distance connections in social media networks.
Facebook and other such networks can be considered for types of online
communities or neighborhoods, in which people connect and cluster in
social groups that ft to their interests and social history. Tis is why a sense
of place is no longer something that comes with simply spending time in a
place, like by living in it, because today, we might live in one place but carry
out most of our social engagements in other spaces. With our constant
travels global spaces through digital realms, we might physically be here
while the environment we are building up familiarity with is out there
or brought in here through our digital screen. Terefore, a local sense of
place is not just automatically there, because it needs to develop through
an engagement with the place. As people are increasingly engaging with
social groups through new media, they might decreasingly engage with
their local social environment. Te social stories that people create are thus
as much (if not more frequently) constructed through digital narratives
and relationships as through ofine social participation, which threatens
the reproduction of a local sense of place. Tis observation carries similar
traits to David Morleys notifcation of how mediated processes of fux
are destabilizing traditional forms of place-based identity (Morley 2001,
427). As new possibilities for joining communities of a distinct interest are
increasing with new media, so are the alternatives to local social oferings.
Perhaps, we are experiencing a second epoch of Joshua Meyrowitz concept
of no sense of place, only this time we are not dislocating a sense of place
by bringing the world to our local environments through the mediation of
our TV screen (Meyrowitz 1985, 158); we are connecting ourselves with
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 438
the world via the non-place of the Internet. In Sybille Lammes description
of the prime component of the Internet as a void that provides ground
for the establishment of virtual relations, she refers to it as a non-place,
meaning a place that is characterized by a lack of history and therefore
in lack of an identity (Lammes 1997, 1). Lammes concept references
Marc Augs original defnition of the concept of non-places as places of
transience that do not hold enough signifcance to be regarded as places
(Auge, 2002). Te non-place is flled with some sense of identity however,
from the networked relations that interact with it, which makes it form
into a transitory and dynamic hub (Lammes 1997, 9). Te challenge seems
to be the practice of connecting this dynamic hub with the development
of a local place, by giving new media a role in place-making. Place and
space have developed an abstract relationship, which fosters a much more
complex condition for the development and maintenance of a sense of
place that is local.
Development through a social media architecture
Te construction of media networks as facilitators of social interaction and
collaboration can be characterized as a form of social media architecture. In
these interface frameworks media users can create personal profles, group
their friends, create sub-groups, receive and distribute digital invitations
within their social network(s), engage in discussions, collaborate on
cultural, ethical and political projects, support good causes, share thoughts,
follow each others social path online and directly communicate with each
other across space and time. A social media architecture is engineered
for collaboration, information sharing, and participation, and enables
people to connect with remarkable ease while organizing themselves in
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 439
complicated social webs across the world. Yochai Benkler notes how this
form of engagement with new technologies is causing a shif in online
social practices (Dufy and Turow 2009, 327). In a sense, these practices
can be considered as spatial, since social media networkers are gathering
in online social spaces; like abstract, virtual echoes of the production of
spaces through our spatial practices of our everyday lives (Lefebvre 1974,
26). What if the nature of these social spaces and the engagement and
excitement they develop upon could build up the social public sphere of a
local environment? Te task is then to time the social spaces online with
local ofine practices, by establishing a relationship between the social
digital space and events and initiatives of the physical local place.
Using social media for offline activities
Tere seems to already be a tendency for people to connect online in
relation to the local, physical sphere. Meetup is an example of a social
media site where people can connect on the basis of shared interests for
a particular taste of music, game, sport etc., and this has proved successful
for facilitating the organization of ofine events (www.meetup.com).
Te photo storage/sharing site Flickr has grouping at the heart of
organization of its content, and many of these groups are local in nature and
allow people to connect around photos and news, and events in their area
(www.fickr.com). Te website StumbleUpon allows users to make local
searches on things to stumble upon in their hometowns, which is a similar
network-feature to the one Facebook proposes where people can join local
networks and subgroup their social connections (www.stumbleupon.com),
(www.facebook.com). Twitter ofers a geo-search option that enables
the user to sort messages or tweets from people in a specifc area (www.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 440
twitterlocal.net), and Placeblogger provides an overview of personal
blogs based on their local registration and relevance (www.placeblogger.
com). Finally, Foursquare emerged in 2009 as a location-based network
intended to connect friends in real life locations using GPS technology
via ones mobile phone (www.foursquare). Tese examples are just some
of the social media architectures out there and display an existing desire
for tying social media practices to a local, physical space. Te digital media
initiatives enable people to connect around local matters, and hereby
shape social practices that engage with the development of urban hubs.
Tis is taking place in a digitally organized dimension of the local realm.
Scott McQuire describes this phenomenon with his concept of the media
city as an expanded matrix of media feedback loops that increasingly shape
the ambiance and intensities of urban space (McQuire 2008, 57). Tis is
why new media has become an integral component in the condition of
urban, suburban and rural community formation. Moreover, media carry
the potential of enhancing place-making through repeated conventions
of language, storytelling, identity-formation, and the communication of
ways of knowing. As Elizabeth Ellsworth describes, media deliver cultural
signifcation to the spaces and times of inhabitation (Ellsworth 2005,
127). Te potential of letting this ever-increasing social desire to connect,
share information, and collaborate online materialize in the ofine
environment, is what spurs my proposition of a rethinking of online social
media networks as strategic models for improving the life and activities of
a local community.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 441
Towards a strategic social media model
for local community development
Te social media architecture I am suggesting as a model for local
community development seeks to transfer the social media-architecture
of online communities to the ofine environment, in order to allow for
peoples social practices online to be directed towards local initiatives.
As online and local communities might build on very diferent social
premises and needs, a locally bound social information network should
be an organic local platform that is user-generated, and propelled by the
needs and interests of the local inhabitants. While the specifc content
categories must be developed with the specifc community, the local media
network might ofer a forum for information sharing on what is going on
in their own village and in neighboring areas, together with a facilitation
of discussions and debates, and it might enable locals to arrange activities
and events in open groups where everybody from the local network
can participate. Tis would allow newcomers to integrate much faster
in their new surroundings, which might open up these rural areas to
a potential infux of ideas and skills. In terms of business opportunities,
local businesses could be allowed to announce their services and opening
hours, and collaborate across businesses and villages. Te network may
also carry a political potential of informing about local rural and suburban
development initiatives and providing a democratic forum for debating
these, as well as for debating local politics. For example, the school in
Jerslev could use the local social network for hosting a democratic forum
for parents to participate in its development strategies. As not all rural
inhabitants are digitally connected and comfortable with the Internet or
social media technology, the media network should ideally be supported
by physical screens in the villages that would bring real-time updates on
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 442
social events, clearances and statuses of projects. In a longer perspective,
these screens would replace the plastic box with paper notes as a much
more efective, updated and fexible public communication channel. What
distinguishes this suggested model of a local social media network with
existing ones is the potential of subgrouping local areas to avoid the smaller
villages to be marginalized by the bigger ones, whereby the distinct ideas
and resources of every single image has a space for establishing initiatives
no matter what scale these might take. Te subgrouping of local areas
might also enable more collaborative villages to establish their local social
network and inspire the surrounding villages. Villages should also be able
to connect and collaborate across districts. As Appadurai notes, as logics
of neighborhoods are sometimes adopted by surrounding neighborhoods
(Appadurai 1996, 183), a local social media network might generate a basis
for living by virtue of its activation in several local neighborhoods, and thus
locality as a relational achievement can be context generative (Appadurai
1996, 186). Te strategic potentials of the local social media network
stretches across place-branding, recognition and local investments.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 443
My proposal of a strategic model of a local social media network for
developing local communities, is organized around a strategic planning of
the encounter between media and urban space, in the hands of the local
inhabitants. It is a digital tool for structuring activities and experiences in
a local area and acts for the sake of bolstering the local community and
the local sense of place, because these components embody the heart of
a healthy, socially sustainable, and attractive place to live. As Appadurai
remarks, as local subjects carry on the continuing task of reproducing
their neighborhood, the contingencies of history, environment, and
imagination contain the potential for new contexts (material, social, and
imaginative) to be produced. (Appadurai 1996, 185). Te perspective I
am proposing seeks to go beyond De Certeaus notion of places as spaces
of activities and stories of people (De Certeau 1988, 110), and regards
places as means of spatialities that are constructed from an online sense of
connection to form a local sense of place. Te local social media network
adds a digital dimension to rural and urban planning and development
strategies. It emphasizes the importance of planning for creating a local
sense of place that is coherent, adaptive, and that stimulates a strong sense
of belonging and empowerment to the local area and its community. For
rural villages like Hallund, a local social media network could become a
revitalization strategy for regaining social life and make a basis for growth
and survival.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 444
ARJUN APPADURAI: Modernity at Large: cultural dimensions of
globalization, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), 1996
MARC AUGE: Non-Places: Introduction to an anthropology of
supermodernity, (London and New York: Verso), 1992
WALTER BENJAMIN: Te Work of Art in the Age
of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936
YOCHAI BENKLER: Peer Production and Sharing, in Key Readings in
Media Today, Mass Communication in Contexts, ed. Brooke Erin Dufy
and Joseph Turow, (New York and London: Routledge), 2009
MICHEL DE CERTEAU: Te Practices of Everyday Life,
(Berkeley: University of California Press), 1988
odds. International inspiration til danske yderomrder, (Copenhagen: Realdania), 2010
ELIZABETH ELLSWORTH: Places of Learning: Media,
Architecture, Pedagogy, (New York: Routledge), 2005
of New media and Digital Narratives in Urban Planning and Community
Development, (Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology ePrints), 2008
SYBILLE LAMMES: Te Internet as Non-Place April, 2007
HENRI LEFEBVRE: Te Production of Space,
(Massachusetts: Editions Anthropos), 1984
KEVIN A. LYNCH: Te Image of the City, (Massachusetts: Te MIT Press), 1960
SCOTT MCQUIRE: Te Media City, (London: SAGE Publications Ltd.), 2008
JOSHUA MEYROWITZ: No Sense of Place: Te Impacts of Electronic
Media on Social Behavior, (New York: Oxford University Press), 1985
DAVID MORLEY: Place, Space and Identity in a Mediated World,
(European Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 4 No. 4, November), 2001
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 445
Referenced websites:
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 446
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 447
An Instrument Of Urban Morphology
Seung Ra
Assistant professor of Architecture
Oklahoma State University School of Architecture
Figure 1 Satellite image of Northeast Blackout 2003(Lef: before the blackout)
Te 2003 New York City blackout might be vague in our memories now,
but the incident created some surreal scenes for the city that never sleeps
(Fig.1). Tis satellite image shows a clear picture of the enormous scale of
the outage. Our dependency on current technology, specifcally networks,
defnes us as a culture now and relates our everyday lives to those across
the global. Tis connectedness of information and distribution refects
urban infrastructures and the fow of energy. Te transformation of cities
will be examined by how we rethink about the uses of infrastructure.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 448
As an instrument of urban morphology, INFRASTRUCTURE drives
the direction, speed, and scale of development. We must question,
How is the city changing? How fast? How much?. Tese are all
relevant questions for us to examine the changing world around us.
Figure 2 Fullers world map with high voltage transmission network map
As a future investment for the economy, society and environment,
infrastructure is the critical element of urbanization. How to apply
sustainable infrastructure into urbanism for cities in emerging countries;
structurally at a global level, and on a local level will be the key issues for
this study. Globally, the rapid urbanization rate gives us an opportunity
to fully integrate architecture and infrastructure. It is imperative that we
progress from current energy generation and distribution methods to
a more sustainable and fexible energy network (Fig.2). Infrastructure
proposes integrating sustainable development and architecture into a
network which will connect large and small scale endeavors in complex
urban spaces. Tis integration of infrastructure and architecture will be a
mode of solution for the current issues in cities and the next step for future
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 449
Automobiles were a primary element that reshaped the city and
architecture, as the precedent transformation of the city and the factors
infuencing its growth (Fig.3). Because transportation immensely impacts
our everyday lives, we cannot separate automobiles and contemporary
urbanism. But the usage of energy will bypass the automobile in shaping
the future of our cities and will rapidly reshape existing cities in a short
period of time. Just as individual works of architecture were adapted over
time, strategies for development and the driving forces of those strategies
will continue to evolve as well.
In the Architecture of the City by Aldo Rossi (1982), the elements of
Roman cities, such as amphitheatres, reversed their functions; the theatre-
city functioned like a fortress and was adapted to enclose and defend its
inhabitants. Te city overtook the architecture and transf ormed it. As
a living organism, cities are structured and restructured simultaneously
(Castells, 2004) and transformed by merging the architecture into the
dynamic of the city, according to Rossi(1982). How the city is transformed
must be considered together with how the city grows because the overall
pattern of the city will impact the value of its future (Rossi, 1982). Te
city is not a static entity but a mutable organization made of diferent
components, adaptable to varying circumstances.(Angelli, 1999;
Klingmann, 1999). As energy and resource use become of primary concern
in todays urban centers, sustainable infrastructure projects become vital,
and further justify architecture that embraces the ambiguity of the citys
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 450
Figure 3 Aerial view of Roman amphitheater transformed into a
marketplace(lef), Edward Burtynsky, Highway #1 (Intersection
105 & 110, Los Angeles, California, USA, 2003.)
The Future of the Metropolis
In response to climate change and developing green technologies,
sustainable architecture has become a contemporary measure of success in
the architectural design community, but sustainability at the urban scale
has not been fully discussed. Tis creates a challenge for rapidly developing
cities in both developed and emerging countries. Tese cities must begin
to consider sustainable infrastructure in concert with architecture. It
is critical that we consider the methods of future growth; large-scale
infrastructural thinking will facilitate the foundation of future sustainable
development. Te relationship between architecture as individual and the
city as collective urban elements needs to be studied by the fow of energy
and environmental constraints. Infrastructure is a conduit for the fow of
energy, and naturally plays a vital role in sustainable development.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 451
A recent article in the Economist (2010) suggests that Asian cities will
determine the prospects for global CO2 emissions in coming years. As
an emerging society, and perhaps the global stakeholder of urbanization,
Asia is faced with great opportunity and great risk. Te current rate
and type of development are unsustainable. But unlimited possibilities
lie in a sustainable exploration at the infrastructural scale. Expanding
infrastructural urbanism is not only relevant to the Asian discourse, but
globally. For example, the global demand for both quantity and quality
of electrical power will need a global scale of investment in the near
future: Te Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD) predicted the total annual worldwide electricity investment
needs through to 2030 average around $350 billion and more than half
of this investment will be spent on transmission and distribution (Stevens,
2006; Schieb, 2006; Andrieu, 2006).
Many large cities share a common type of geographical character: location
on a delta or waterfront. Tis feature provides a natural source of energy
and cooling, among many other reasons why cities relate well to large
bodies of water. Te city of Toronto is adapting the fundamental idea of
using Lake Ontario to cool downtown buildings (Fig. 4). Tis system is
an example of Deep Lake Water Cooling (DLWC). It is a $170-million
project and will reduce overall annual power usage by more than 40
megawatts, and greenhouse gas emissions by almost 40,000 metric tons.
Tis will be comparable to removing 8,000 automobiles from the road
(Graham, 2004). As the worlds largest lake-source cooling system, the
City of Torontos DLWC system goes beyond energy savings. Te system
(ENWAVE, 2004): (1) Reduces electricity use by up to 90% compared
with conventional air-conditioning (2) Eliminates 79,000 tons of carbon
dioxide annually (3) Cuts 45,000 kg of polluting CFC refrigerants (4)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 452
Saves more than 61 MW of electricity annually the equivalent power
demand of 6,800 homes (5) Eliminates the need to install cumbersome,
expensive cooling equipment and to dispose of it at the end of its useful
life (6) Eliminates 145 tons of Nitrogen Oxide (7) Eliminates 318 tons
of Sulphur Oxide (8) Provides fresh, potable lake water to taps across
Figure 4 Te city of Torontos Deep Lake Water Cooling system.
Image fom MASSIVE CHANGE and the City of Toronto.
Metro Hall, a 27-story ofce building in Toronto, went online with
ENWAVESs Deep Lake Water Cooling system in June 2006. Energy
consumption at Metro Hall will be reduced by 3 million kilowatt-hours
per year and reduce CO2 emissions by 732 tons annually - equivalent to
taking 160 cars of the road. Te resulting reduction in water consumption
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 453
from Cooling Towers for the building was 4,400 cubic meters per year, and
the power saved is sufcient to supply 300 homes (Te City of Toronto,
While the concept of cooling by water is not new, and many waterfront
cities have taken advantage of their geographical beneft, the scale of
infrastructural networks has not yet been ambitious enough to have an
impact citywide or beyond. What if DLWC could replace the entire
cooling system of a city? And what if high-rises in Shanghai could eliminate
massive cooling towers, using all of their mechanical space as usable space?
Perhaps Buckminster Fullers (Mau, Bruce Mau et al, 2004) worldwide
energy grid could be adapted into the scope of the cooling system in order
to produce energy locally and distribute it globally. (Mau, Bruce Mau
et al, 2004). Surplus energy generated by the water cooling infrastructure
would be redistributed and ultimately less energy would need to be
generated through conventional means.
In order to demonstrate infrastructural thinking, a hypothetical project,
GEOPLEXUS, was developed in response to an existing site in Chicago.
Te location provides a new opportunity for regeneration at the urban scale,
developing infrastructure to serve spaces beyond the site (Te Chicago
Architectural Club, 2010). GEOPLEXUS utilizes the destruction created
by a real-estate collapse as an opportunity to reconfgure energy fow within
the city. Lake Michigan is the citys greatest natural resource, providing a
moderating efect on the local climate. It has the potential to serve as an
energy source as well, in the transfer of unlimited energy from the earth to
the city. Te host transfers energy from the lake, and distributes the cool
water through a capillary network to breath into buildings, creating a mass
infrastructure which utilizes geothermal technology to cool buildings
(Fig.5). It demonstrates how energy needs could drive a large-scale urban
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 454
intervention. Commercial buildings now account for the greatest growth
in consumption of energy (Hughes, 2008). In the coming years, the U.S.
will invest over 467 Million dollars in funding for Geothermal and Solar
Energy Projects (U.S. Department of Energy, 2009). GEOPLEXUS
investigates the broader potential of connecting existing natural resources
to the areas in greatest need of a revolution in energy usage.
Figure 5 GEOPLEXUS by Seung Ra, Sam Sanders, and Dane Zeiler
Urbanization and New Urban Morphology
How can Infrastructural urbanism be applied to rapidly developing
cities? Tis concept of the city engaging natural resources is necessary to
halt the rapid and growing resource consumption of these urban centers.
Te Economist (2010) described Chinas metropolitan developments as
superblocks, which create supersized carbon footprints. Te West has
already experienced the results of such development patterns. Charles
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 455
Dickens described Victorian London as the great and dirty city because
of airborne pollution by emission from burning coal (McDonoug, 2002;
Braungart, 2002). During the 2008 Olympic Games, the world watched
the return of Industrial Revolution-era skies in Beijing. To serve the
rapidly expanding cities, they add more new coal-fred power plants. In
Asias growing urban population, energy consumption grew by 70% in the
ten years leading up to 2008. Continuing this trend, it will be inevitable
to change the direction for the future of the metropolis. According to the
Asian Development Bank, 44 million people join city populations each
year. Every day sees the construction of 20,000 new dwellings and 250km
of new road (Te Economist, 2010). Tis incredible rate of growth opens
possibilities for the relationship between infrastructure and architecture.
Tey could potentially be considered in parallel due to the speed of
development. Infrastructural elements would still need accommodation for
growth, but could be integrated more fully with smaller scale architectural
design. Te large and small scale design of infrastructure could work in
concert to successfully create self - sustainable places within a network.
At the large scale, the radical transformation and creation of landscape
through infrastructural development is a global phenomenon (Shannon,
2010; Smets, 2010). Increasingly, the infrastructural projects are more
and more complex and radically alter our environment and landscape at
both the global level and the local level. For example, at 2.3 kilometers
long and 101 meters high, Chinas Tree Gorges Dam(Fig. 6) is the
worlds largest hydropower project and most notorious dam in the world
(International Rivers, 2009). Despite submerging a number of cities
and towns, relocating 1.3 million people, and destroying the ecosystem
along the river, this dam is equal to ten modern nuclear power plants
(International Rivers, 2009) and will save 50 million tons of coal per year
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 456
(Mau, B. Bruce Mau et al, 2004). Tis is a conventional infrastructural
solution for supporting expanding energy needs. But in addition to
increasing the number of plants, we must look into infrastructure within
the city; more energy efcient urbanization. In Aldo Rossis (1982)
view toward the growth of cities, the broader contextual idea of how
cities will grow and impact the surrounding areas must shape our future.
Figure 6 Edward Burtynsky, Dam #6 (Tree Gorges
Dam Project, Yangtze River, 2005)
Todays infrastructures, as public endeavours, are not simple and large scale
objects, but improve the public realm and quality of the landscape of cities.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 457
In Stan Allens (1999) Infrastructural Urbanism: Seven Propositions,
the characteristic defnition was given : (1) Geography as a medium (2)
Flexibility (3) Te participation of multiple authors (4) Local contingency
and maintaining overall continuity (5) Organizing and managing
complex systems of fow, movement, and exchange (6) Managing the
fows of energy and resources (7) Facilitating an architectural approach
to urbanism. Infrastructure is ofen non-linear: hierarchical and tree-like
forms relate the large scale portions to the small scale parts (Allen, 1999).
Tis relationship between the scales is a key to make Infrastructure part of
the urban pattern of development.
Figure 7 Solaria by AMO

At the smaller scale, the solution of efective urban planning for new
developments starts in more efcient energy generation and it must end
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 458
in comprehensive distribution and consumption in a multiplicity of scales
and systems (Addington, 2010). For example, individual places create
complimentary subsystems instead of creating a large solar energy farm
separated from the city. It could be part of the citys landscape (Fig. 7).
Even if the scale and impact might be minimal, in large context, this will
truly make a diference at the comprehensive level. We must also look into
more fundamental issues of how we use the small-scale renewable energy;
more precisely how efciently we use the environmentally friendly energy.
For example, photovoltaic and fuel cells produce direct current and when
these energy sources are converted into the alternating current grid, they
automatically lose about 25% of their energy (Addington, 2010). In
order to be more efcient, we have to use these sources directly without
converting. For instance, most digital equipment and LED lighting could
use direct current from the renewable sources. Also, generating less heat
from the lighting and electronic equipment will reduce unnecessary
cooling loads, which are the largest internal heat gain source for commercial
buildings. Tere are three types of internal heat gain sources for the
typical commercial buildings: (1)electrical for plug load and lightings, (2)
mechanical for motors, compressors and other equipment and (3)space
and water heating (Addington, 2010). Smaller scale energy networks must
participate in the energy solution. Te result will be much more critical
and fundamental change in attitudes at the local level.
Roadmap 2050 by the European Climate Foundation and OMA proposed
an EU-wide decarbonized power grid by 2050 (Moore, 2010). Te plan
would reduce Europes GHG emissions by 80-95%, which needs to achieve
a 2% energy efciency savings per year, by 2050. Trough the complete
integration and synchronization of the EUs energy infrastructure, Europe
can take maximum advantage of its geographical diversity. Te reports
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 459
fndings show that by 2050, the simultaneous presence of various renewable
energy sources within the EU can create a complementary system of energy
provision ensuring energy security for future generations. According to the
Roadmap 2050, emissions from power, road transportation, and buildings
will be reduced by 95% which will be the most critical part of the overall 80%
CO2 reduction. Two sectors, Power and Buildings, will be most infuenced
by INFRASTRUCTURE and will become a new territory for architecture
to return to the where it began. Te plan also proposed an EU-wide power
grid system with diverse and decarbonized energy sources which will be
traded within the network. Tis return to Fullers idea, Electrical-energy
integration of the night and day regions of the Earth will bring all the
capacity into use at all time (Mau, Bruce Mau et al, 2004). Tis integration
could be key to accommodating energy fow in developing cities (Fig. 8).
Figure 8 Decarbonized grid power distribution by AMO
(Lef) Solar / wind energy map by AMO (Right)
What kind of change can infrastructure create? Spatial transformation is a
fundamental dimension of the overall process of structural change. We need
a theory of spatial forms and processes, adapted to the social, technological,
and spatial context where we live (Castells, 2004). Te increasing focus of
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 460
Figure 9 Evolution of the city, past, present and future fom the Vegetal City
by Luc Schuiten
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 461
Figure 9 Evolution of the city, past, present and future fom the Vegetal City
by Luc Schuiten
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 462
climate change requires revolutionizing how society lives, and this change
will be a fundamental dimension of spatial transformation of our cities. A
recent exhibition of Belgian architect Luc Schuiten, Vegetal City brings
a visionary glimpse of how a city was reconciled with nature and inspired
by it (Fig.9). In the Evolution of the city, past, present and future from
the Vegetal City, Schuiten presents the city in motion and continuously
renewed through a slow progression around a lake where the migrations of
its inhabitants follow the rhythm of the lifespan of the citys main structure,
the tree (Schuiten, n.d.). While this is a radical example of infrastructure,
this kind of visionary exploration is needed in order to make extraordinary
change a reality.
As a response to contemporary problems of the city, socially and
environmentally, the large and small scale infrastructural proposition must
be critically considered as the resolution again. Infrastructure is a medium
to facilitate the ground for the citys future and generate the conditions for
architecture (Allen, 1999). Te dual relationship of architecture and city
should again be examined through the lens of energy and environmental
Te International Energy Agency (IEA) in the World Energy Outlook,
2004 reported that the projected increase in worldwide electrifcation
rates from 74% in 2002 to 83% in 2030 would provide a huge impact on
social development, education and public health (Stevens, 2006; Schieb,
2006; Andrieu, 2006). Te results would bring changes to basic human
life, as well as environmental impact. For instance, reduction in the use
of traditional fossil fuels for energy purposes, with attendant benefts of
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 463
slower deforestation (Stevens, 2006; Schieb, 2006; Andrieu, 2006).
As these changes take place, we must simultaneously look at infrastructure
on a multi-level scale. Te current trend is moving away from a monolithic
infrastructural development, yet still the large scale projects create greater
impact, economically, socially, and environmentally infuencing the future
urbanism (Stevens, 2006; Schieb, 2006; Andrieu, 2006). Because of the
massive increase of urbanization and proliferation of cities, we must
identify how the vital resources will fow and create new styles of urban
infrastructure for global cities (Hodson, 2010; Marvin, 2010). Mega
projects are not necessarily the answer for mega cities with mega problems.
Common urban problems, such as energy intensity and population
density, require thinking beyond physical size to issues of efciency and
sustainable generation. Smaller scale approaches combined with advanced
technology will help to bring a larger impact on the global level, even if the
physical scale is as small as changing a light bulb.
Te growing uncertainty of Architectures mission in current urbanism,
especially implementation of multi-scale infrastructural development as
an urban intervention, will require its reposition and integration. Based on
the historical aspects of transformation of the city and the outlook of global
investigation in terms of infrastructural investment, we continue to engage
the future relationship between architecture and urban space and how the
environment will be rapidly infuenced by urban growth. Te objective of
infrastructural urbanism is to not only encourage more efcient building
for the future, but also to facilitate much more efcient networks within
the current grid system. As the usage of energy becomes the driving force
sculpting the future of our cities and reshaping existing cities, we must fully
integrate Infrastructural development and architectural design within this
new framework.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 464
Addington, D.M., 2010. Energy Sub-structure, Supra-structure, infra-structure .
In: Mohsen Mostafavi with Gareth Doherty, Harvard University Graduate School
of Design, ed. Ecological Urbanism. Lars Mller Publishers, pp. 244-251.
Allen, S., 1999, Points + Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the
City. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
Angelli, M. and Klingmann, A., 1999. Hybrid Morphologies:
Infrastructure, Architecture, Landscape. Daidalos, 73, pp. 22.
Banyan., 2010, THE ECONOMIST, Asias alarming cities, [online] Available
at:<http://www.economist.com/node/16481295> [Accessed 24 August 2010].
Castells, M., 2004. Space of Flows, Space of Places: Materials for a Teory of Urbanism
in the Information Age. In: Braham, M. and Hale, J., ed. RethinkingTechnology:
A Reader in Architectural Teory, London: Routledge, pp. 440-455.
Chinas Tree Gorges Dam: A MODEL OF THE PAST, [online] International
Rivers (Published 2009) Available at: <http://www.internationalrivers.
org/fles/3Gorges_FINAL.pdf> [Accessed 26 August 2010].
ENWAVE, 2004. Deep Lake Water Cooling. [online] Available at:
<http://www.enwave.com/dlwc.php> [Accessed 28 August 2010].
Graham, S., 2004, Scientifc American, Big Chill: An ambitious new project
uses lake water to cool of city slickers, [online] Available at: <http://www.
scientifcamerican.com/article.cfm?id=big-chill> [Accessed 28 August 2010].
Hodson. M., and Marvin. S., 2010. Transcendent Eco-cities or Urban Ecological
Security?. In: Mohsen Mostafavi with Gareth Doherty, Harvard University Graduate
School of Design, ed. Ecological Urbanism. Lars Mller Publishers, pp. 208-217.
Hughes, P., 2008. Geothermal Heat Pumps: Market Status, Barriers to
Adoption, and Actions to Overcome Barriers. [online] Te Oak Ridge
National Laboratory (ORNL) Publication. Available at: <http://info.ornl.
gov/sites/publications/fles/Pub13831.pdf> [Accessed 12 March 2010].
Mau, B., Leonard, J. and Institute Without Boundaries., 2004,
MASSIVE CHANGE. London: Phaidon Press.
McDonoug, W. and Braungart, M., 2002. A Brief History of the Industrial
Revolution. In: Braham, M. and Hale, J., ed. RethinkingTechnology: A
Reader in Architectural Teory, London: Routledge, pp. 421-425.
Moore, R., 2010. Roadmap 2050 by Rem Koolhaass OMA. Te Observer, [online]
9 May 2010. Available at: < http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/
may/09/roadmap-2050-eneropa-rem-koolhaas > [Accessed 27 August 2010].
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Infrastructure. Rotterdam: NAi Publishers.
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on the Development of Global Infrastructures to 2030. In: Infrastructure
to 2030: telecom, land transport, water and electricity / Organisation
for Economic Co-opertacion and Development. Paris: OECD.
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MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 466
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 467
The Architecture-
Infrastructure Synergy
An Open Design Platform To Maximize And Optimize
The Spatial Development Of Urban Design In
Integrating Architecture With Infrastructure.
Marthijn N. Pool
Technical University Delf, Faculty of Architecture,
Hyperbody Research Group
Te thesis location of a high density ofce district is approached from an
alternative development strategy. Form the social psychological perspective
the thesis is focused on the development of a design alternative to the
current developments of underground infrastructure with an additional
layer of urban tissue on top resulting in a separated upper and under world.
Te authors research emphasizes on an integral approach, beneftting
the development and end users perception of the local infrastructure
in combination with architectural spatial development. Te social
psychological benefts feed the design concept while the computational
project approach is an innovative and experimental research strategy
for optimizing the multi stakeholder development on this A+ location.
Maximizing spatial quality for all of its end users is the main objective. Te
author has developed an open design platform which enables the architect
in the initial stage of the design process to flter experts input and refect
real time in the multi-disciplinary design process of the Amsterdam South
axis development.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 468
Te paper consists of two main research topics. At frst the design
process in architectural design is determined on the basis of researching
bottom up principles and refecting on modernist top down design
process strategies. Te aspect of collaboration in the design process and
the use of the computation describes a more optimal and efcient design
process. Secondly a brief historical review of infrastructure and mobility
is described and its social and psychological impacts are researched to
determine its vital components for the design of infrastructure in our
landscapes and city lives. Te strategy of a more efcient design process
and the awareness of the psychological efects of infrastructural design
are combined in an urban design proposal. Te urban design proposal is
embedded in a high density thesis location. Te author has developed a
design tool that functions as an open platform facilitating the collaborative
design of the multi-disciplinary group experts involved. Te design tool
has a strong emergent capacity, but is open for external users input. Te
design tool is developed with gaming sofware to exploit the interactive
relation between external infuences of the design team experts and the
internal infuence of the processed algorithms which determine optimal
geometrical alternatives. Te tool enables a rapid exploration of complex
design alternatives on the basis of visual and numerical output.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 469
Illustration 1: paper structure integrating two research topics in a design strategy
1. Towards an open design process
1.1 Reflecting the modernist top down design process
Te modernists claimed to have the new insight and being convinced to
have the solution for the complexities at the time. Directly from the mind
of the architect the city could be built and people will have to live with
it, the city became a machine, built in one instant. Tis overwhelming
production has taken away a lot of knowledge from ancient time by
replacing entire city quarters with the modern architecture. Design as
the process of evolving towards ft solutions, was thought to be of little
importance. Tis goal-oriented approach is too little concerned with
the urban processes that run when inserting a building. Contemporary
architecture in the modernist period became to be driven by ideology, so
that appearance, form, evaluation and justifcation were no longer related
to a buildings use by human beings. Te efect that built form has on
human sensibilities is easy to ignore by argumenting a buildings particular
style [Alexander 1980]. Tis modernist architecture imposes its abstract
forms on people, who are not supposed to question them. Like this the
feedback is neglected resulting in no connectivity. A major faw in this top-
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 470
down implementation is that it ignores forces that would make it adaptive.
Every step has to allow divergence to be adaptive. Te design process has to
be an open process. It has to have the ability to process input in each step
in the correct sequence of the design, thats what maintains it evolutionary
properties and determines its inherent qualitative aspect emerging from
the collective intelligence.
Collective intelligence
Te input at each step given by diferent sources makes the result
highly adaptive to human physical, sensory and psychological needs.
Te environment thus has become a database of stored information.
Information stored in built form is immediately accessible and works as
a working memory for society. [Salingaros 2004] A city built over time is
the product of the collective intelligence of generations of people acting
together. Tis enormous database is the sum of small decisions taken over
When looking into historical descriptions of the ruling modern architects
its ofen clear that they believed in their own approach. Te reason that
there was a yearly congress called the CIAM (Congrs International
dArchitecture Moderne) was to exchange ideas on these large-scale
experiments. Te results of these real-time architectural and thus social
experiments were discussed and reformulated. Te practising architects
had the hope to fnd the key answer to reply to the complex problems in
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 471
society. Te top-down modernist approach is criticised a lot, but because
it has been decades of experimental research the current architect has to
learn from it. From the sociological point of view these experiments have
yield lots of knowledge on big scale housing projects, which should not
be neglected because the architectural approach is criticised. Like in all
experiments; proceed on what went right and flter out what went wrong.
1.2 Evolution and adaptability in the design process
Architectural design can be classifed in diferent design approaches.
Tese are defned as form giving, form fnding, form follows function
principles and so on. Every architect has his personal touch in the design
task, but two main categories can be described; the bottom-up and top-
down approach. Te bottom-up approach can be characterised as an open
method considering all relevant infuences in shaping the future space.
Te top-down approach is applied the other way around; a preferred form
is imposed on the site and the infuences are considered, but will have to
adapt to the given form.
Scientifc research is leading to a better comprehension of the world
around us. Te acquainted knowledge has to be properly applied in
diferent practices to improve life. In architecture these new insights must
be applied to improve the process of shaping the artifcial environment.
An interesting research feld is the investigation of evolutionary processes.
Nature is a complexity of continuously running processes. New processes
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 472
emerge while others vanish. Te main principle in the natural shaped
environment is evolution. Evolution can be seen as the process by which
the physical characteristics of types of creations change over time, new
types of creations develop and others disappear [Cambridge Dictionaries].
In evolution a great deal of any future defnition is based on already existing
structures which inform the to be defned structures. Evolution is a process
of adaptation and coexistence. Coexistence can be seen as the adaptation
to what was already there and was on its right place. Te existence of an
origin can be extended with additions, but these additions have to coexist
to assure its an extension of the whole. Architecture will have to evolve;
the process consisting of small steps to build up bigger scale steps to make
wholeness. Each process runs at a certain time, so from time t to time t
+1 the structure unfolds. All steps in the process describe the wholeness
of the structure. [Salingaros 2004]. Te authors research into Gaudis
chain model experiment has led to the development of a computer model
that characterises the evolutionary behaviour of forces of gravity onto a
structural mesh. Te linkage of all elements and their fexible connections
result under the external infuence of gravity into a parabolic shaped dome.
Tis dome is characterised by its geometrical optimal properties of having a
maximum inner volume with a minimal outer surface, while the structural
capacity uses the minimal material in order to create stability (illustration
2). Tis is a very elegant example of evolutionary wholeness to be applied
in the design proposal for the high density urban development.
Illustration 2: Gaudis actual hanging chain model
and the authors programmed model
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 473
Tis fact of an optimal geometrical form created by the internal and external
natural processes inspires the author to develop a second principle based
on a natural algorithm defning maximum efciency. Te individual soap
bubble describes a maximum inner volume with a minimal outer surface.
In the cluster with multiple soap bubbles the spatial properties remain to
be intact and create fascination geometrical defnitions. Te author has
developed the soap bubble spatial principle in scripting sofware to make
it applicable in an architectural spatial organisation. Te organization
emerges from the clustering of various soap bubbles into a compact system,
defning maximum compactness and wholeness (illustration 3).
Illustration 3: the soap bubble principle and the
authors programmed spatial behaviour
Selection and adaptation
Evolved form generates organized complexity, whereas random growth
generates disorganized complexity. Depending thus on the selection
which is an important step in the evolution procedure. By making this
crucial selection process interactive and adaptive, the integrated input
from participants (concerned parties) will lead to an unexpected and
surprising output of new confgurations. All input is used to guide the
process; the fnal result is the efect of the concerned parties collective
intelligence. Te organization of complexity follows the principle
of optimizing the energy fow. Tis kind of self-organization can be
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 474
interpreted as learning. Self-organization is a property of a system that
uses internal forces to infuence its own structure on growth [Bentley
1999]. Adaptability however is driven by external constraints; it uses input
of its surroundings. Te adaptive system, resulting in a coherent complex
system (the whole) will use feedback to infuence both the smaller and
the larger scales. Within the combination of the two described spatial
optimization principles an adaptive design tool is developed to rapidly
explore programmatic architectural organisations. Te schematic principle
defnes complex behaviour. Te coloured soap bubbles describe diferent
programmatic components variable in size and volume, the components
are linked to build programmatic relations. Subsequently the various parts
of programme cluster are compacted in the described Gaudi dome. Each
component remains to be adaptive. Te vertices defning the domes corner
points can be modifed as well as the entire outer surface, but also the
volumetric properties of each programmatic entity can be redefned. Tis
very accessible and adaptable cluster is a continuous running process, that
can be perceived as playing a game (illustration 4). Te visual and numeric
feedback enables the architect and its collaborating experts to judge the
impact of every decision in real time.
1.3 Collaboration and efficiency in design processes
Illustration 4: real time modeling of programmatic spatial confguration
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 475
Te possession of the calculative powers of computers and technologies
opens up new ways on approaching the architectural design task. Te theory
of evolution and emergence can be applied with the help of computers
processing the large number of steps and processing large amounts of data in
a short time. Te computer can be of great support in developing diferent
solutions in a short period, so the time spent for the iterative manner in
which the design solution will evolve, is compressed and thus economically
afordable [illustration 5, Love, Gunasekaran, Li 1998]. Te computer can
be seen as an evolutionary accelerator and a generator to develop ideas. Te
results will be more novel and have surprising confgurations. Te selection
and evaluation of diferent solution is analogous to natural selection. Like
a breeder of racehorses a designer can use his experience and judgement
to select a genetic variant for further experimental development. [Frazer
Illustration 5: potential cost saving [Love, Gunasekaran, Li 1998]
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 476
Collaborative design
Te design task of the architect is relying on the input of various experts.
Te communication and data exchange between these experts is vital
for the efciency of the design process. Instead of working sequentially
the design team should operate parallel or simultaneously to increase
the amount of knowledge shared between the participants. Te more
condensed collaborative design process will result in better insights in
the impact of various expert input in a short time, so the actual design
proposal is more optimal. Decision made in the early stage of the design
have a large determining impact on the eventual construction cost. Te
better informed the decision can be made the better the budget is spent.
Tis also works the other way around in stating that a design change made
early in the process is far less expensive compared to a design change later
in the process (illustration 4). Every expert in the design team uses its own
knowledge and sofware, as long as there is fuent data exchange between
the experts to analyse and evaluate (illustration 6).
Illustration 6: diferent ways of collaboration [Li et al, 2004]
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 477
Real time feedback
Te open platform for the design optimization is facilitated by a developed
gaming tool. Tis tool developed by the author has the capability to
refect in real time decisions made within the design team. Te efect of
the decision is communicated visually as well as numerically. Since the
programm runs on the basis of numerical input, these numbers can be easily
retrieved. Te visual feedback is the frst response to the expertise input of
the collaborating members. A statical engineer will be most interested in
the slope of a roof and its total outer surface. While a cost-surveyor will
be most interested in the total element length applied in the outer skin
whereas the architect and the urbanist will be most concerned with the
aesthetics and the visual coherence in relation to the built environment.
Te open platform is an INput-OUTput device running in real time
(illustration 7). Te intuitive controls enable the architect to modify the
design by afecting the geometry. By dragging vertices or increasing and
decreasing the volume, the urban-architectural model can be modifed.
Te model is open to any adaptation within the constrains of aiming for an
optimal geometrical model in coexistence with the necesary infrastructure.
Illustration 7: process based feedback loop modeled with
gaming technologie and programming
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 478
2. Mobility
2.1 Time and place redefined
Trafc fows and routes have been of great importance to the vitality of
cities. Many cities have emerged alongside the intersection of roads and
diferent kinds of mobility modes. Settlements were created on the deltas
of rivers, at the position where land and sea fade and other strategic
crossings. For the essential needs of life its prefered to be close to the
resources. Roads connect areas where there is a need for supplies, enabling
people to reside in the places where they are. With the invention of the
steam engine by mister NewComen and later optimised by James Watt,
the start of the industrial and parallel to that the transport revolution is
a fact. Te cole consuming steam engine was implemented in the cole
mine areas around New Castle and functioned as the locomotive to
transport cole from the mines to the rivers. Te principle of carts on rails
was already a common infrastructure, but the man and animal propulsion
have become redundant. Te extensions of the railway network developed
at a rapid pace. Te various trajectories got interconnected mainly for
transport purposes. With the increase of transport facilities also the need
for person and even public transport were integral part of the industrial
developments. [Schivelbush 1980]
The effect on the notion of time and place
Te power of the steam engine with its inexhaustible energie and limitless
acceleration did not match with peoples common relation with nature.
Motion is no longer associated with the sensible aspects of the landscape
with its bumps and holes. Neither was the notion of time and distance
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 479
associated to the fatigue of horses. Tis results in a dual efect; because of
the expansion of space the amount of reachable space is increased while at
the same time shrinking of space has caused it to be destoyed. According
to our common senses time and space have shortened. Points have come
closer to each other and loose their local identies which were detemined
by the space in between. Te isolation of the points determined their
2.2 Mobility affecting society
For nomadic tribes it is of vital importance to keep repositioning, it is
embedded in their notion of life. Nowadays we could speak of ourselves as
technological nomads, which have only slight diference in world-view. In
our society mobility has become a social necessity. Mobility has become an
omnipresent experience in a consumption society driving us form phase to
phase. Te ability to move has become an acquired right of freedom [Maas
2002]. Mobility enables people to organise and direct their lives. It has
become a necessary precondition to acces other rights such as; education,
work, healthcare and dwelling. Te ease with which distances can be
overcome has changed our perception. Landscapes, cultures, communities,
each with their specifcities have come closer and making diferences fade.
Te culture of mobility creates a certain detaching process. Te meaning
of being in a certain place in a certain time is loosing its strength, because
chraracteristics of localities start overlapping. On the one had its the
identity of the locus thats weakening on the other hand its the identity of
the person thats changing.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 480
2.3 Psychological aspects for spatial
definition of movement
Passing the landscape has a cinematographic quality; its a linear sequence
which vision is being fltered and oriented forward. Two-third of observed
objects is in front of the viewer. Te objects on close up attract more
attention because they seem to be moving in relation to the horizon.
When the driver passes a visual barier, he will need to reorient (illustration
8). Depending on the speed the feld of view can be determined. At high
speeds objects viewed in a narrow angle will be most dominantly present.
At a lower speed objecst in a larger viewing angle will start playing more
important roles. Te fundamental sensation of the experience of the road
is visual experience of movement and spatiallity, the appearance of moving
objects nearby and the defnition of the space that is being passed. Tese
elements are inherently connected. Te visual judgement of movement is
made upon the perceptive movement of external objects and is interpreted
as movement in relation to the enclosed space.
Illustration 8: relation between feld of view and
orientation [Appleyard D., Lynch K., 1964]
For example the misinterpretation of movement from a non-moving train
when looking at a departing train. Te driver is dependent on its vision in
order to experience the sense of movement. In the perception of apparent
moving objects of which we know they cant, its the cognitive judgement
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 481
concluding its oneself being in motion [Appleyard, Lynch 1964]. Tis
motion awareness is determined by: the rotation of an object from close
up to far, expression of detail and texture and the apparant growth of the
object when approaching (illustration 9). In a simple linear movement
the viewer can experience an opposite sensation of a landscape sliding by
under the stationary vehicle. When traveling with high speed on a linear
trajectory, the apparent notion of hardly any progress is being made, can
be frustrating and tedious. Te instalment of objects along the road should
emphasize the drivers actual motion.
Illustration 9: apparent rotation of objects in a composition in the
landscape being approached. [Appleyard D., Lynch K., 1964]
Sense of scale
Te way to and away from the city has a lot of infuence on how the city
is communicated. Tere is an optimal distance for observing objects,
depending on the amount of detail one requires. Similar to theatres
where the optimal viewing distance determines the price of a ticket. Te
car functions as the extension of the human body. One of the strongest
visual sensations is the relation in scale between the viewer and a large
scale environment. Te car with its speed and personal directability
can estbalish the sense of scale on a new level. It neutralises the scalar
discrepancy between human and the city [Houben 2004]. You will still
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 482
feel human when moving through the city, but making a jump in scale.
Te opposite is true when a car breaks down on a fy over and one has
to continue walking. Tis destoys the established scalar relationship. Te
sense of motion control is the largest on a motorbike or on skis, a situation
where the vehicle is small and one has to make body movement for control
and response to the landscape. Te intimacy with the landscape is increased
when the roads are smaller.
Te road users orientation is a continous proces, the driver and its
passengers constantly orient themselves in the surroundings without having
the destination clear in sight. Tey localise most of the present objects and
position themselves in relation to them. Te highway and the city are two
distinct worlds mysteriously interwoven. An artifcial slope needs to be
visually connected to where it leads. An exit needs mental preparation
and can even be extended to make the transition between highway and
urbanity and stitch them together. Besides the roads property of facilitating
efcient circulation, it also inhabits a purpose of meaning. When the
highway is regarded as a linear exposition it incorporates an edcutional
property. By marking hisrtorical landmarks, but also by emphasizing on
what is being produced here, who live here and who works here. Te
meaning of a place is embedded in the position of an object, how the
object communicates its presence and how the importance of its presence
is emphasized. Te most strong experiences are communicated when all
three aspects are present. Te rhythm and the continuity of an assembly is
embedded in the sequence of spaces, the motion, the orientation and the
meaning. Tempo and rhythm are the primitives of an integral assembly.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 483
Te tempo by which the attention is attracted is a sensitive index for the
quality of the road. Contrast and alteration are the premium ingredients
for designing highways. No efect is as strong as the experience of a wide
space emerging from compact space in which continuity is guaranteed. Te
authors design tool proposes a model to fnd the optimal balance between
road design and spatial development in high densities. In the integration of
infrastucture and building the connectivity is maximized. Illustration 10
shows the process steps of a typical elevated infrastructural development
with the incorporation of urban development under and in between roads.
Te images respresent the evolutionairy steps of the established coexistence
between the two. From the perspective of the road user the landscape of
urban dunes in between the road strip will be a unique experience, while
the created ofce spaces provide excellent views on the daily varying trafc
situations. Te integration of infrastructure with buildings increases the
value for both. Infrastucture is not seen anymore as a burden element, but
as a dynamic component creating beauty in the landscape.
Illustration 10: road design as determining factor in spatial
optimization [time fame images of automated process]
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 484
2.4 Social impact of mobility
Mobility in the sense of trafc has a de-socialising and thus isolating efect
on society, despite its implementation to increase the interaction between
humans as social beings. Every individual is placed in its individual steel
cocoon incorporating all, but clearly restricted, spatial freedom. When
looking at the commuters masses, held in trafc jams, the social interaction
is minimal, even while people can make eyecontact and are physically
close to each other. Even in metros and trains, where people are not being
separated by steel cocoons, the interaction is minimal. In the car as well as
in public transport the time spent travelling is converted into productive
time spending. Sending text messages, making phone conversations,
drinking a cup of cofee or even shaving. In public transport the time is
being used to read the newspaper, to sleep or to have breakfast. Te car is
becoming an integral of one of the perceived living spaces. Considering
the time spent in the vehicle it is worth considering this moving capsule as
a room. Every individual inhabits the the moving capsule according to its
own preferences (illustration 11).
Illustration 11: individual spatial accomodations [ J.Bell, 2001]
Te journey has been given new meaning. Where is used to be an
element of impression of the landscape, it is much more introverted.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 485
Car industry is already adapting to this notion. Te meaning of driving
in a car is being difused by the possibility to create a meeting seating
arrangement, internet connection and lcd screens. But also in the realm
of comfortability, such as air treatment and ergonomic qualities of chairs
contribute to redefnig the car to be a living space. Te layered use of time
has strong infuence on how time and space are being experienced. Time is
no longer solely used for traveling, but to be exploited in multiple fashions
[Bell 2001]. Urban living and traveling are inherently connected. Te
network society enforces this linkage. Te larger diferentiation of peoples
activities during the day will lead to more travelling. More traveling will
be more important components of our daily lives, our urban activities and
thus of the city as a whole. Urban living is above all dynamic and volatile,
inherent to the movement of people and goods. When travelling will get
a new meaning, the city will as well. We might develop towards a more
and more nomadic existence, within which we believe to experience the
highest level of freedom.
3. Wholeness
3.1 Colliding architecture & infrastructures
Infrastructure is not valued for the efect it has had on our world perception
and on society. Instead infrastructure is considered a burden and a
desctruction of our landcapes. Taking into consideration the freedom it
has given us and the relevance of infrastructure for our economies, it is
important to investigate infrastructure from an integral design perpective
and not as an independent element.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 486
In the past century the distribution principle has become the central theme
in our current day society. Roads have become the artery of city structures
and have determined citys solid development. Te importance of mobility
for our economies and the efect on our cities had frst been sketched by
Wiley Corbett in 1923 for the city of New York. He sketched the vision
that the increase in demand for infrastructure would need to overlap with
the citys architectural compactness (illustration 12). Instead high density
cities develope the tendency to displace their central business district
form city centres to the city radial infrastructure. Where the trafc fow
is optimal and accessibility optimal while keeping historical city centres
Illustration 12: overlap of increasing infastructural demands in high density New
York [sketch in 1923 by Wiley Corbett, fom Delirious New York, Koolhaas R.]
For the urban and architectural design of the thesis location of Amsterdams
business district South Axis, its important to defne the elements which are
localy present. For the redesign of the infrastructural hub in combination
with additional urban development the author has developed the
design approach fromt he perspective of dynamics, of currently running
processes. Te South Axis is characgterised by the intense fow of trafc
and a high density of ofce buildings. Te fow of trafc and the fow of
people should be a dominant factor in the urban design since its dynamic
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 487
properties create additive value for the perception of space, either when
it is described from the perpective of the driver in his car passing by or
the person looking at the car passing by (illustration 13). Te panorama
and the view needs to be optmally organized for the dynamic (the car) as
well as for the static user (the ofce worker). Te unique qualities of the
location are being optimized in an urban design proposal resluting in a
synergy between architecture and infrastructure.
Illustration 13: integratable topics in infastructure and architecture
3.2 The architecture-infrastructure synergy
Te authors programmed tool enables the architect to make adaptable
sketch designs in de preliminary design phase. Te entire design team is
required to take part in the condensed collaborative design development
of the urban and infrastructural node at the Amsterdam South axis. Tis
sketch design tool explores the possibility to unite infrastructure with
building structure to a coherent entity. Possibilities of layering transport
systems is proposed. Te elevated road design merges and bifurcates its
trajectory in an elegent way. Te space lef under the road reestablishes the
connection on ground foor facilitating the pavement to be reconnected.
Doning so the infrastructural barier is overcome and the two sides
of the business district are reconnected. Te space lef under and in
between the trajectory is inhabited by the new buildings footprint. Te
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 488
structure will fnd its optimal way in between the space above, besides
and under the infrastructure. Tus resulting in an optimal space use for
building and infrastucture as an ensemble (illustration 14). Tis process-
run development is all-round adaptable to needs and whishes and is
fundamentally based on the optimal spatial confguration of the hanging
chain model of Gaudi. Te well balanced spatial confguration between
infrastructure and architecture creates a value that is higher than the sum
of its parts. Te design establishes a synergy between the two aparant
conficting constituting elements.
Illustration 14: optimal geometrical organisation of infastructure
and architecture as a sketch alternative in the Game play
Te developed alternatives are evaluated and adapted on the basis of the
experts input. Te design interations run fuently and the created insight is
increased in a condensed time. So sketching isnt a slow process of iterating
through changes and options anymore, but it has become an exiting
exploring Game play. Afer the selection of the most valuable design
alternative developed by the authors design tool, the architect will more
detailedly develop the design.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 489
Illustration 15: the urban-architectural design with
incoporation of infastructure, beneftting both
Illustration 16: schematic section of synergetic integration
of landscape, built volume and infastructure
4. Conclusion
Te theory of emergence and evolution (as bottom up principles that
are fed with data of experts, like an urban designer creating input in the
coherence of an urban development, a road designer in the connectivity
to the existing network) in design has a strong point in making the
architecture connect to the existing structures and environments. Te use
of the computer to accelerate the generation of alternatives is a powerful
application in the proposing of solutions, but the important part is still the
architects evaluation on aesthetics, which is inherent in intuition, taste,
estimation and experience. Te importance of the architect lays in this
skill, because the computer does not have these capabilities.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 490
Te attention given to the psychological aspect of spatial perception form
the road remains to be relevant since the time spent travelling on the road
is still increasing and inherently with it the increase of the square meters
of road constructed. Te gradual absorption of mobility in society is
remarkable. Most psychological responses of humans are subconscious and
intuitive. As an architect its important to be aware of this aspect and to
carefully create spatial design that is founded on this knowledge. Mobility
has been and will be the topic of discussion and development of ideas and
utopias. Since the industrial revolution and the subsequent modernity,
mobility has become a central theme in society and its discussions. As
the thesis design addresses new ways in developing a synergy between
architecture and infrastructure.
5. References
1. ALEXANDER C., 1980, Te process of creating life. Te nature of order,
An essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe.
2. BENTLEY P.J., 1999, Evolutionary Design by computer,
San Fransisco, CA, Morgan Kaufmann, int. p.1
3. Cambridge Dictionaries Online [http://dictionary.cambridge.org/defne.asp]
4. FRAZER JOHN H., 1995, Te dynamic evolution of designs, School
of design and communication, University of Ulster, Belfast, UK.
5. SALINGAROS, NIKOS A., 2004 September. Design methods,
emergence, and collective intelligence. of Applied Mathematics,
University of Texas at San Antonio. In: Katarxis no.3.
6. WOLFGANG SCHIVELBUSCH, 1980, Te Railway Journey
7. APPLEYARD D., LYNCH K., 1964,Te View from the Road
8. HOUBEN F., 2004, Mobility, A room with a view
9. MAAS W., 2002, Five minutes city
10. BELL J., 2001, Carchitecture, when the car and the city collide
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 491
Sustainable Interaction
with Food, Technology, and the City
Jaz Hee-jeong Choi
Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane QLD 4059, Australia
Marcus Foth
Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane QLD 4059, Australia
Tis workshop explores innovative approaches to understanding and
cultivating sustainable food culture in urban environments via human-
computer-interaction (HCI) design and ubiquitous technologies. We
perceive the city as an intersecting network of people, place, and technology
in constant transformation. Our 2009 OZCHI workshop, Hungry 24/7?
HCI Design for Sustainable Food Culture, opened a new space for
discussion on this intersection amongst researchers and practitioners from
diverse backgrounds including academia, government, industry, and non-
for-proft organisations. Building on the past success, this new instalment
of the workshop series takes a more refned view on mobile human-food
interaction and the role of interactive media in engaging citizens to
cultivate more sustainable everyday human-food interactions on the go.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 492
Interactive media in this sense is distributed, pervasive, and embedded
in the city as a network. Te workshop addresses environmental, health,
and social domains of sustainability by bringing together insights across
disciplines to discuss conceptual and design approaches in orchestrating
mobility and interaction of people and food in the city as a network of
people, place, technology, and food.
Theme And Background
Human existence fundamentally depends on food intake. Terefore food
security based on the condition of having access to stable availability
and use of quality food [1] is a crucial element of human sustainability.
However, our current state of food production and consumption does
not ensure food security for the future. One of the key contributors to
the problem is the acute urban-rural segregation and the subsequent
lack of understanding of how food shapes the city by shaping the social,
environmental, and health contexts of the individual and further, the
community. Terefore, a coherent and coordinated strategy is vital [2]
not only amongst collective entities such as nations and regions but also
individuals. Our frst food workshop at OZCHI 2009 addressed issues
of cultivating sustainable eating, cooking, and growing food culture [3]
through individual day-to-day practices. We build on the knowledge
accrued from the OZCHI workshop to further explore the issue through
the specifc lens of mobility.
As evidenced in initiatives such as Slow Food International, a non-
proft group focusing on preservation of the cultural, culinary, and
artistic local traditions [4], food industrialisation has been condemned
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 493
for contaminating the urban food ecology with unhealthy (and ofen
unnatural) products; for social isolation; and detrimental environmental
impact in many domains of business operation from product packaging to
produce itself. However, convenience and economic advantage still attract
many people around the world to taking the on the go option of ready-
made packaged food. Te growing urban population, which has already
reached the 50% mark on the global scale [5], presents new challenges for
us to reframe the culture and practices of consuming food in the city. In
urban environments where one-person households are the dominant form
of residence, there is limited access to fresh produce and/or facilities to
prepare quality food particularly for people with the low socio-economic
status [6], and access to mass-produced goods is an embedded feature,
what kind of contributions can we make from the perspective of interactive
media in order to cultivate a sustainable food culture? Further, how is the
city as a physical and abstract entity situated in relation to the information
that fows through it? Willis and Geelhaar argues that the challenge is
less a case of putting information back in its place, but of putting place
back into information [7]. Tis workshop aims develop conceptual and
design approaches at the intersection of people, place, and technology, by
bringing together expertise from various related felds of study including
HCI, information technology, urban informatics, sociology, cultural,
environment, and health studies.
Goals And Outcomes
To respond to the main question posed above, the workshop focuses
on three domains of enquiry: Firstly, what are the key determinants of
current mobile human-food interactions (for example, outdoor eating
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 494
may have diferent connotations and implications in Reykjavik compared
to the Sunshine Coast in Australia during winter)? Secondly, where are
the gaps that can be flled by interactive media in order to improve the
health, environmental, and social sustainability of mobile human-food
interaction? Tirdly, what are conceptual and design approaches we can
provide pragmatic solutions in an imminent future? By examining these
three domains, we hope to generate new actionable knowledge that can be
applied to developing usable technologies in specifc urban environments.
Te workshops contribution and outcomes will extend beyond the theme
of food. Te need to develop perspectives of designing interactive urban
media is on the rise as we enter the era of ubiquitous computing. Tus it
is necessary to build a common language that allows fuid communication
amongst researchers and practitioners in relevant felds in order to discuss
and expand knowledge that can be efectively used to deal with actual life
challenges such as sustainability a term whose meaning varies amongst
individuals, communities, and broader collective entities according to
their value contexts.
Workshop Format and Participation
Te topic of the workshop is innately transdisciplinary. Tus the workshop
functions as an open and active forum for forward-thinking practitioners,
designers, and scholars to address and enhance the role of interactive
technology and media in motivating sustainable human-food interactions
in the city. We very much welcome contributions from those who are not
currently in felds that are directly related to food research. As such, we
keep the workshop open to anyone who registers to participate as audience.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 495
Tere are four speakers, namely: Mark Shepard (Assistant Professor,
Departments of Architecture and Media Study at University at Bufalo,
Te State University of New York), Katharine S. Willis, (Researcher
/ Artist / Architect at University of Siegen), Denisa Kera (National
University of Singapore), Marc Tuturs (University of Amsterdam), Marcus
Foth (Associate Professor at Queensland University of Technology), and
Jaz Hee-jeong Choi (ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow at Queensland
University of Technology). Presentations will be followed by an interactive
discussion with the audience.
The Organisers
Jaz Hee-jeong Choi is an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow (Industry)
at the Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation, QUT. Her research
interests are in playful technology, particularly the ways in which various
forms of playful interaction are designed, developed, and integrated in
diferent cultural contexts. In her doctoral research, she developed a new
conceptual approach to urban sustainability that recognises play as the
core of transformative interactions in cities as ubiquitous technosocial
networks. Her current research explores designing and developing playful
ubiquitous technologies to cultivate sustainable food culture in urban
environments. She has collaborated with leading international researchers
and published in books and journals across various disciplines. Her website
is at www.nicemustard.com.
Marcus Foth is Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow with
the Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation, QUT, and team
leader of the Urban Informatics Research Group. He received a QUT
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 496
Vice-Chancellors Research Fellowship (2009-2011), and a Smart Futures
Fellowship from the Queensland State Government (2009-2011),
co-sponsored by National ICT Australia (NICTA). He was awarded
the inaugural Australian Business Foundation Research Fellowship
on Innovation and Cultural Industries 2010 sponsored by the Aurora
Foundation. He was an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow (2006-2008),
and a 2007 Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University
of Oxford, UK. Dr Foths research explores human-computer interaction
design and development at the intersection of people, place and technology
with a focus on urban informatics, locative media and mobile applications.
Te high quality of his research work has attracted over $1.7M in national
competitive grants and industry funding since 2006. Dr Foth has published
over 70 articles in journals, edited books, and conference proceedings. He
is the editor of the Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics (2009),
and is currently co-editing the book From Social Butterfy to Engaged
Citizen for MIT Press (2010). He is the conference chair of the 5th
International Conference on Communities and Technologies 2011 in
Brisbane. More information at www.urbaninformatics.net
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 497
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=154534607892420&ref=ts
1. Food and Agriculture Organizataion of the United Nations,
FAQ: What is Meant By Food Security, 2010; http://www.fao.
2. Food and Agriculture Organizataion of the United Nations, Te State of
Food Insecurity in the World: High Food Prices and Food Security - Treats and
Opportunities, Food and Agriculture Organizataion of the United Nations, 2008.
3. J.H.-j. Choi, et al., Hungry 24/7? HCI Design for Sustainable
Food culture Workshop, Book Hungry 24/7? HCI Design for
Sustainable Food culture Workshop, Series Hungry 24/7? HCI Design
for Sustainable Food culture Workshop, CHISIG, 2009, pp.
4. P. Jones, et al., Return to traditional values? A case study of Slow
Food, British Food Journal, vol. 105, no. 4/5, 2003, pp. 297-304.
5. UNFPA, State of World Population 2007: Unleashing the Potential of
Urban Growth, U. N. P. Fund, United Nations Population Fund, 2007.
6. N. Wrigley, Food Deserts in British Cities: Policy Context and Research
Priorities, Urban Studies, vol. 39, no. 11, 2002, pp. 2029 - 2040.
7. K.S. Willis and J. Geelhaar, Information Places: Navigating Interfaces between
Physical and Digital Space, Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics: Te Practice
and Promise of the Real-Time City, M. Foth, ed., IGI Global, 2009, pp. 206-218.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 498
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 499
Mobile Applications
in Urban Planning
Karsten M. Drohsel
Peter Fey
Dipl.-Ing., HCU Hamburg
Stefan Hfen
Dipl.-Ing., TU Kaiserslautern, http://cpe.arubi.uni-kl.de
Stephan Landau
Dipl.-Ing., HCU Hamburg
Dr. Peter Zeile
Dipl.-Ing., TU Kaiserslautern, http://cpe.arubi.uni-kl.de
Mobile phones changed the way we communicate in a fundamental way.
With the rise of smartphones and the mobile internet, these changes will
be more profound and extensive than ever before. Location-based-services,
augmented reality and the ubiquitous connectivity ofer new ways for the
perception of space and participation in the urban environment.
Tis paper begins with a theoretical overview about the changes in
communication via the internet and the new technologies. In its second
part, the paper presents two projects using mobile applications in an urban
context. It discusses these new opportunities as well as the barriers they
present and gives an outlook of possible uses and how urban planners can
take advantage of these new tools.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 500
Theoretical overview
The Social Web and communication
Supported by technological development and its widespread difusion
the Internet has changed our communication patterns. With the
difusion of the Internet a new form of communication has emerged,
characterized by the capacity of sending messages from many to many,
in real-time - or chosen time, and with the possibility of using point-to-
point communication, narrowcasting or broadcasting, depending on the
purpose and characteristics of the intended communication practice
(Castells 2009, p. 55).
Te decentralized internet is an architecture of participation as
OReilly (2004) pointed out the advantages of the new communication
infrastructure. Or said in other words: We are living in the middle of a
remarkable increase in our ability to share, to cooperate with one another,
and to take collective action, all outside the framework of traditional
institutions and organizations (Shirky 2008, pp. 20). Te Internet
provides a low-threshold communication between nearly everybody,
worldwide. Whereas real-world communication is limited by distance
and time, online tools enable many forms of instant, global, and nearly
permanent communication.
With the widespread difusion of mobile phones and especially smartphones
(like the iPhone) the internet is going mobile. Via mobile devices and
wireless connections, citizens can surf in the web nearly everywhere no
hot-spot is needed anymore. Seen from a planners perspective: that
means, that new services are emerging, which bring interactivity and social
media directly into the public space and neighborhoods. Te mobile
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 501
factor reduces the limits of distance and time nearly totally the internet
is getting ubiquitous.
Te reduction of temporal and spatial limits ofers new chances for the
urban planners, to use these tools to engage citizens for their cities. Planners
will be able to create their own games and provide engaging channels for
citizens to get engaged. [] Location-aware games could provide a venue
to get citizens involved early in the planning process. Armed with new
social media tools and access to information, citizen planners will soon
join professionals in our search for the liveable cities of tomorrow (Haller
and Hfen 2010).
Engaging the mobile citizens
In Germany nearly everybody has a mobile phone and the numbers of
smartphones will be more than 8 millions in the end of 2010 (Bitcom
2010). Te growth of this mobile market will be one of the fastest growing
markets in communication with nearly 33% (Bitcom 2010). Te society
will change into a mobile society and especially in urban areas the mobile
citizens will be the common citizen. At this point the relevance and
potential of mobile technology in urban planning and urban culture have
to be researched and developed, as the technology and the tools are going
to be ubiquitous and invisible and therefore change the social behavior, as
Shirky points out: Te invention of a tool doesnt create change; it has to
have been around long enough that most of society is using it. Its when
a technology becomes normal, than ubiquitous, and fnally so pervasive
as to be invisible, that the really profound changes happen, and so for
young people today, our social tools have passed normal and are heading to
ubiquitous, and invisible is coming (Shirky 2008, p. 105).
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 502
Beside the anonymous data analysis of the background data of the mobile
sector (fowing data, phone call connections, etc. as already done in urban
research projects1) this ofer the change for a higher envolvement of
citizens and the integration to participation in the urban environment -
the mobile participation (mParticipation).
Referring to the 4 groups (experts, local experts, citizens as afected
persons and the crowd ) which can be involved in participation processes
(Mller 2010), the presented projects focus on the last three of them,
to get the local knowledge of citizens, their opinions as afected persons
and to use the crowd-sourcing-efect for a bigger data aggregation. Tis
bottom-up-attempt tries to engage the mobile citizens, because Mobile
applications amplify participation in a spatial and temporal dimension
and will widen the range of possible uses for urban planning and design
(Haller and Hfen 2010).
Smartphones bring us the vision of ubiquitous computing closer. Today,
smart phones with intuitive touch screen spread quickly: Playing audio
and video fles is a standard as the access to mobile content on the internet.
Along with the increasingly low/fat rates for mobile internet, the changing
in the handling of mobile phones progresses, so that more and more
people have their little digital companion. Te vision of ubiquitous
computing (Weiser 1993) - the ubiquity of computerized Information
1 E.g. in the Project Real Time Rome (http://senseable.mit.edu/
realtimerome/) or Cellular Census: Explorations in Urban Data
Collection (http://www.currentcity.org/pdf/IEEEPaper.pdf )
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 503
processing will come true. With the smartphone, the user can almost do
all kind of things, even if they look for the frst time as gimmicks (Streich
2005, p.190: Homo ludens, as a source of knowledge and of scientifc
work). With the distribution of netbooks or the iPad, the use of the mobile
internet was extended. Te multimedia wizard of the future (Althof
et al. 2010) allow unrestricted access to all information - anytime and
anywhere. Rounding out the technical equipment through the integration
of GPS, compass and some possibilities for sensor technology, such as the
measurement of sound or the measurement of tilt angle. Smartphones
provide a new platform for location-based-services and will be small
augmented reality browsers.
Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) is, in opposition to Virtual Reality (VR)
with only virtualized environments, a method, which overlays digital
information like points or three-dimensional structures over an existing
camera picture or stream. Augmented Reality is ofen referred to as
advanced or enriched reality and assigned to the so-called human-
machine interaction methods. Generally therefore the real-time storage
of human senses with the help of computer models called (Milgram and
Colquhoun, 1999). An AR system can overlap the reality with visual,
auditory and tactile information in real (Hhl 2008, p. 10). Characteristic
of Augmented Reality techniques are 1.) the combination of virtual and
real objects in real environment, 2.) the direct interaction and presentation
in real time and 3.) the display of all content in three dimensions (Azuma,
1997). Tat means, that AR fully integrates and overlays virtual content
with the real world (Hhl, 2008, p. 10). Required hardware components
for AR-systems are the computer unit with the appropriate renderer, a
display unit, such as screen or head-mounted display, a tracking system
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 504
for recording the location and evaluation of the viewing direction and a
receiving sensor technology, such as cameras and any input devices. Due to
the immense hardware requirements for an AR system, there are diferent
visualization methods (Hhl, 2008, p. 12).
Video See-through (VST) is a technique, where the user wears a completely
closed projection goggle. Inside this goggle, a LCD-Screen projects a
mixture between the real camera and the new, augmented object.
Optical See-through (OST) is a quiet diferent approach. Te main
diference is, that an an optical combiner produces the image on a semi-
transparent mirror, so that the user perceives the new environment over
this kind of projection on the transparent mirror.
Projective AR (PAR) is a very easy to legalize method, because you only
need a projector or a beamer to texturize an additive information to an
object. Te main problem is to adapt the picture information on the real
geometry of the objectprojected by using a projector digital content to an
Monitor AR (MAR) is the technique which is realized on smarthphones.
With the help of a sofwaremixer , camera and a monitor/screen, the digital
information is displayed on this monitor of a desktop PC or smartphone
If people want to use a smartphone for the so called mobile augmented
reality, the mobile augmented reality browser like e.g. LayAR (http://
layar.com) uses a monitor AR system. For the correct representation of
the augmented content, it is necessary to have a geotag, to reference the
position of the model in the real world.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 505
Te geotag is a geographical coordinate most common is the WGS 84
reference system by using GPS (Global Positioning System) added to
other (digital) content. Via the geographical identifcation metadata of
every kind of media, like photographs, video, websites or RSS feeds can
be placed on a map. Most smartphones and more and more compact-
cameras have an integrated GPS-Sensor, which allows the saving of the
geocoordinate directly in the EXIF-header (which is a property feld of
the image).
But geotagging can be seen as a new paradigm in the use of internet.
Traditionally, information in the worldwideweb (www) was only a
information, somewhere in the cyberspace, without any real location. Te
combination of all available data with geographic coordinates, and their
constant availability and interchangeability with mobile devices is a great
breakthrough in the use of the internet esp. in public space. Sometimes the
semantic web is mentioned the so called web 3.0. Terefore the logical
and important next step is the combination of geographic and virtual
information the web 3.0 or simply the Geoweb (Zeile, 2010, p. 101).
Tis means that virtual data dispersed in the www get a footprint on the
globe they are again located.
We believe that the leading indicator and also a bridgehead of this
development could be in the feld of spatial planning. Tat means that the
use of geoinformatics with its subsection, the web mapping services will
be used as a unit to collect, publish and transform data about locations or
single spatial or public topics. If you pursue this development, it is to state,
that all the methods and technics of pure web mapping, Web 2.0 services,
and even individual simulation tools now grow together [Zeile 2010: 101]
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 506
and result in new services and could generate an additional beneft: the use
of location based services.
Using GPS (Global Positioning System), the location of mobile phones
can be determined. If there is a weak or no signal available, a localization
is also possible with the Cell-ID method: A Sofware locates the masts
of the mobile carrier network, and knows, in which cell you are located.
For a better measurement, there are algorithms, which combine the signal
of three cells and triangulate the location between these cells. In addition,
a built-in digital compass in the phone could detect the users viewing
direction. With these reference points, it is possible to obtain information
on a targeted object in real time on the mobile phone display. Here are
some examples of good location-aware social media applications, built up
in the surrounding of social communities.
Foursquare is a combination between location-based service and a social
networking website (http://foursquare.com) , the sofware/ the client is
available for the most common mobile OS like iPhone OS, Android and
Blackberry. You can also use a browser-based application in your favorite
internet browser. Te idea ist, that users can check-in at every venues using
a mobile website, text messaging or a special app. For every check-in, the
user earns points, and if somebody checked-in the most in one venue, he
becomes the mayor of this location. Beside the classical social community
features like adding a friend or post a comment, the most interesting thing
beside the mayorships are the badges, you earn, if you have checked-in for
example on 5 diferent location on one day. In Future, there will be the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 507
possibility to create and add a custom badge to foursquare. Tis could be
an interesting issue for activities in the tourism sector or for example the
mobile museum of typography which will be explained in 3.1. Te visitor
of a city or museum has to go to special venues, and if he visited for example
5 spots, he can earn the ofcial badge of this event. Te tool helps to form a
urban game out of the application and add the fun-factor to the app.
Gowalla ( is an other geosocial network with diferent focus. You can add
spots only by visiting a place, but, and this application has the advantage
over foursquare, you can additionally add own created trips and pictures
of the places. Tis is a high potential for creating tours for tourism, adding
crowdsourcing data by the users. A disadvantage is, that you can add only
a spot, if you are really, in a physical way, in front of the venue. Today,
it is not possible to do that over a standard web browser by checking-in.
But with the possibility of creating own tours without having any skills in
programming a badge, this tool can be helpful in future.
Facebook Places
A new concept is Facebook Places, which adapts functionality from
foursquare and gowalla and connects, that is the main point, the user
directly to their own facebook community. Facebook places is only
available in the U.S. and on iPhone OS, but other countries and other
mobile OSes should follow. Until now the use isnt really clear for the
two presented examples but shows the high potential that facebook as
the leading social network attach to location-based-services. Maybe in
combination with the like-button it will help to spread the information
about the application and its content.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 508
The value of mobility
Te multiple advantages of mobile communication ofer new possibilities
for urban planners and urban artists. As the iPhone (and more and more
other devices) reduced fundamentally the barrier of the use of these mobile
technologies, the low-threshold usability ofers a new joy of use. Tat
means, that the technology ofers a fun and a entertaining side. Now nearly
everyone (and more people will be able in the future) can handle a mobile
phone and use applications. Trough this possibility the technology ofers
the chance of an in-sitio reaction, what for example enables the integration
of more citizens in planning processes. In this way, a citizen, who is focusing
a certain problem (e.g. a broken trafc-light) is able to react directly in
place and time, which adds a component of spontaneity. Te reduction of
spatial and temporal limits also allows the gaining of information anytime
and everywhere. Tat means, that citizens are potentially more
independent to choose when and where they participate.
Another important advantage is, that the mobile internet is multimodal.
Users can communicate via all kinds of channels even if it is voice, text,
an image or a video. In contrary to mobile phones, which are just ofering
voice and sms, smartphones are now connected to the whole internet. Tis
amplifes the range from a one-to-one to a one-to-many communication,
as the own content can be published in the internet even by using the
content from other pages. And all these channels can be used in real-time,
which ofers short-time reactions. Concerning all these aspects it can be
said, that participation is inherent to mobile phones (Castells, 2006) and
especially to smartphones. Tats why the two following projects try to
explore the values, restrictions and possibilities of the value of mobility.
And now its the time for it, as Shirky (2008, p. 105) pointed out: the
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 509
invention of a tool doesnt create change; it has to have been around long
enough that most of society is using it. Its when a technology becomes
normal, than ubiquitous, and fnally so pervasive as to be invisible, that the
really profound changes happen, and so for young people today, our social
tools have passed normal and are heading to ubiquitous, and invisible is
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 510
Two examples of mobile applications
Typospotting - Bringing back urban typography!
Augmented Reality Applications for smartphones in combination with
geolocation and mobile Internet allow the replacement of removed signs
and billboards in the urban space. By using a augmented reality tool a
virtual rediscovery of disappeared typography in urban space can be made.
Typography in public space
Letterings and typographically designed trademarks are one of the main
elements that are found anywhere and everywhere in public space. House
numbers consisting of two not very expressive numerals, more or less
typographically arranged street signs, signages of private and common
companies according to their own corporate design, the preservative
trademarks of e.g. Coca Cola and McDonalds, or the multitudinous
advertising media in public space these typographical arrangements
impact our habit of viewing and our visual sensation.
Expressive letterings and trademarks leave a mark in our memory. Tey
stand efectively for defnite places, for instance the neon writing of Berlin
Caf Kranzler. All the more one is bemused, if one of these typographical
checkpoints in public space disappears such as the well known Zierfsche
lettering trademark of a pet shop for several decades disappeared with
the shop at Berlin Frankfurter Tor.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 511
Letterings symbols of the urban history
Billboards and signs are important symbols in the urban environment,
as they shape the cities atmosphere and are especially in the backview
symbols of diferent epochs. Te Broadway in New York is a famous
example, as the billboards shape the character of this urban place. Also
in Berlin with his special historical background billboards and letters
are highly connected to the past and the actual chances in the whole city.
Berlins history with its big changes is connected and refected in these
elements. For example socialistic propaganda billboards were removed, the
tourism industry produces new logos and billboards and the development
of billboard production causes new varieties for small shops to design
their logos. And the famous sign You are leaving the American sector is
nowadays only quotation and a touristic symbol, discharged of its former
meaning and its spatial context. Te meaning of boards and signs is not
only related to the written content (the text) but also its size, location
and design its urban context.
Fig. 1 - Example of Te Mobile Museum of Typography
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 512
Bringing back urban typography
Using Augmented Reality (AR) application ofers the chance to bring
the letterings back in urban space, which allows a higher contextual
understanding. By adding digital elements, the live view of the real-world
environment is replenished with virtual computer-generated imagery.
To make this context visible again, we create Te Mobile Museum of
Typography, which can be used in the streets to relocate and show the
missing letterings. Te Mobile museum functions by enhancing ones
current perception of reality and enables a view in the past.
Te use can be seen on following pictures. Te old symbol of the former
energy supplier of Berlin, the BEWAG (which now is part of the Swedish
company Vattenfall) can be replaced via the AR-Tool in its former place.
Fig. 2 Showing the old Sign of the former Electricity Company of Berlin Bewag
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 513
Using the Augmented Reality Browser Layar, which was developed
for smartphones, allows the implementation and geolocalization (via
GPS) of 3D-typographic models. Te models will be designed with the
3D-application SketchUp.
Te typographic 3D-models can be stored on a homepage and be
downloaded via the internet with or without restrictions. Using the app
of LayAR, all the models can be seen on the smartphone (iPhone and
Combining history, technology and design
Typographic City Walks
To explore the removed in the urban space and give communicate
urban history, it is possible to organize typographic city walks using the
AR-application. Passing by the real locations in addition to the AR-
visualization it will be given an overview about the history of the place
and the lettering to gain consciousness about political, aesthetical and
design topics. Te technology allows the experience of the urban history
and a higher visualization of the letterings either on photography or the
letterings which where e.g. stored in the Buchstabenmuseum in Berlin.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 514
Participation on demand Nexthamburg Mobile
Every individual citizen has their own knowledge, experiences and
opinions about the city or town they live in. Tey know the good and
bad qualities of the area they reside in. Tis knowledge is an important
source of information which urban planning can use for its advantage.
A citizen can use their mobile phone to communicate their experiences
or knowledge along with their opinion by using the on demand option
which is available 24 hours a day. So he can participate everywhere and
Te technological key for the participation option is established by using
the location base service concept .Tis is accomplished by the use of
contemporary smart phones which has the ability to locate a device by
GPS. Tey have ubiquitous internet accessibility via UMTS and feature
user-friendly input and output possibilities via high resolution touch
Te participation on demand frames a vision, that in the near future every
citizen will have the ability to follow the location-dependent planning
discussions. Furthermore he can participate in them or create a discussion
of his own. He can do this by using on demand which would be available
24 hours a day from any smart mobile phone.
a project gains a participation on demand
In course of the diploma thesis Participation On Demand, a model of
using smartphones for building a participation on demand for the project
Nexthamburg was created. Nexthamburg is a private initiated project,
which encourages citizens to share their thoughts and ideas concerning
the areas they live in. Te project pursues a crowdsourcing strategy.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 515
Te Nexthamburg Project serves as a independent think tank for future
development of the city of Hamburg. Te projects goal is to establish a
Wiki for urban planning, a collection of ideas , opinions, along with
experiences and knowledge of local citizens. Nexthamburg desires to inspire
all citizens to be active protagonist in urban planning issues. In course of
the characteristic of initiating bottom up processes Julian Petrin, CEO of
Nexthamburg says: Not the city includes the municipality the citizens
include the municipality (Petrin, 2010)
Te Nexthamburg Project allows citizens to be involved in many diferent
methods. A citizen can bring their ideas or place a comment along with
voting by using the Nexthamburg web site www.nexthamburg.de, or they
can be part of a Nexthamburg Session which meets every six months. At
these sessions citizens can discuss their experiences, knowledge and ideas
face to face allowing the best ideas to come forth for the future growth of
City of Hamburg. Te project strives for innovative methods and uses a
clear corporate identity. In this way Nexthamburg makes the citizen more
interested for urban planning.
Nexthamburg mobile a experimental approach
For the Nexthamburg project a participation on demand method based
on an iPhone app in cooperation with Nexthamburg and cajaks.com -
mobile phone applications, a iPhone application developer, was selected.
Te application is named Nexthamburg mobile. Every iPhone user have
the ability to use Nexthamburg mobile to express their opinions concerning
what he likes and dislikes in his living environment. We conducted this
experimental approach to gain practical experience for our diploma thesis.
In detail the app Nexthamburg mobile provides information about the
users actual position. He chooses a category maybe a favorite building
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 516
or something that bothers him. In addition he can take a photo and type
a statement. Tis small report, consisting of location, picture and text, will
be sent to the Nexthamburg webpage (see fg 4-9). An interactive map
shows all reports made by the citizens ready to be discussed (see fg.
10). In the course of the experiment we primary collect reports, trying to
identify starting-points for a comprehensive concept. Tis concept draws a
possible prospective participation on demand option for Nexthamburg.
Fig. 4-9 Screenshots the app Nexthamburg mobile.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 517
Fig. 10 Screenshot of the interactive map.
The concept - a participation on demand
Nexthamburg mobile for the future
By using the experiences, made during the experiment, we elaborate a
concept for a future, bottom up initiated participation on demand.
We learned from the experiment that an active community, even when
its small, can create a huge amount of knowledge. Tis requires adequate
incentives, which motivates the citizens for a active participation.
We suppose that in the future there will be a small but active community
who uses Nexthamburg mobile. Protagonist, acting in the feld of
urban planning, like administrations, stakeholders, investors, initiatives
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 518
or projects can assign tasks to this community. By cooperating together
the protagonist and Nexthamburg can beneft the city of Hamburg with
new technology, a wealth of community knowledge and a practical look
of how the city looks as a whole. Te protagonist can defne a task which
need to be done for example afer a hard winter the road construction
ofce could let the community search for potholes or a tourism association
could ask visitors about their opinions of the city. Private programs can be
set up to allow citizens to express their concerns on how they see public
funds being wasted in their community. Nexthamburg mobile is a fexible
participation tool, which can responds to the complex and ofen changing
urban planning discussion.
The Cityscanner
To handle all these tasks it is planed a two-way visualization display. For
easy access and comfortable usability, there are two diferent ways to view,
to edit or to create new information being given by the Nexhamburg
mobile application. At frst there is the classical 2D-map, the second is
a Augmented Reality visualization. Tis gives the user the ability to view
the real environment through your iPhone display, attached with virtual
visualized information or objects.
2D-Map Visualization
To activate the classical 2D-map visualization the user needs to place the
iPhone horizontally in the palm of his hand. As example in (fg. 11) a
map will appear which will point out Points of Interest (POI) like the
locations of pot holes that have been reported.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 519
Fig. 11 Fig. 12
Augmented reality visualization
If the user switches the position of his iPhone from horizontally to
vertically in his hand, the 2d map will disappear and the augmented reality
view will appear. Trough the display of his iPhone he will view the real
environment attached with virtual visualized information or objects (see
fg. 9).
Due to the two types of visualization the user can follow the planning
discussion of his position wherever he is located. Nexthamburg mobile
shows him reports and other planning information in form of POI. Te
user only has to click with a fngertip at one of these POI to view additional
information. Aferwards he will be able to edit this POI or create a new
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 520
First attempts of a critical examination
However there are some shortcomings that need to be looked at and
resolved. Tey result from the fact, that not every citizen possesses the
necessary smart phone with GPS and mobile internet capabilities. For
this reason participation on demand will excluded many potential
participants, but in time the use of these smart phones will increase
in number as the cost of owning and using them will go down. Tere is
another problem concerning the input possibilities. Te user reports
during his daily routine. Maybe he is in transit and does not have much
time to write a comprehensive text. Beyond that typing by a small touch
screen is still very troublesome and time-consuming action. Tus the
mobile input contains only small, superfcial text elements. According to
this there are limits for the tasks which can be handled by the concept of
participation on demand
Te main advantages of on demand is that it is easy to use, inexpensive
and very citizen friendly. It enables to gain a vast amount of community
knowledge from people who live in working neighborhoods.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 521
As the paper pointed out, the actual change in communication behavior to
mobility open a lot new options for participation and citizens engagement.
Consequently the changes and restrictions have to be explored to improve
the technology and understand the imbedded social uses in a better way.
Te authors think that mobile participation (including participation on
demand, urban games and new engaging tools) will play a major role
for gaining information for planning processes, by using crowdsourcing,
location based service methods and augmented reality via mobile phones.
Approaches like Nexthamburg mobile or Te Mobile Museum of
Typography are just the beginning of that development. In the future
technological options of mobile devices will be more developed and the
acceptance for using such technologies will be much higher than today.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 522
Althof, S. Landwehr, G., Kratz, N., Zeile, P., 2010. Mobile Stadtinformationssysteme
und Location Based Services Neue Potentiale fr die Touristen und
Brgerinformation. In: Schrenk, M. Popovich, V. Zeile, P., RealCORP 2010
15th International Conference, Vienna, Austria 18-20 May 2010. Vienna:
CORP Competence Center of Urban and Regional Planning.
Azuma, R. T. 1997, A Survey of Augmented Reality, Teleoperators and
Virtual Environments 6, pp. 355 385 [online]. Available at:
http://www.cs.unc.edu/~azuma/arpresence.pdf [27.09.2010]
BITKOM, 2010. Smartphones erobern den Massenmarkt. [online] Available at:
<http://www.bitkom.org/62432_62420.aspx> [Accessed 27 September 2010]
Castells, M. Fernandez-Ardevol, M. Linchuan Qiu, J. Sey, A., 2006, Mobile
Communication and Society: A Global Perspective, Cambridge: MIT Press.
Castells, M., 2001. Te Internet Galaxy. Refections on the Internet,
Business, and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Haller, C.; Hfen, S.: New Communication Tools and eParticipation: Social
Media in Urban Planning. In: Schrenk, M. Popovich, V. Zeile, P., RealCORP
2010 15th International Conference, Vienna, Austria 18-20 May 2010.
Vienna: CORP Competence Center of Urban and Regional Planning.
Milgram, P., Coloquhoun, H., 1999. A Taxonomy of Real and Virtual World
Display Integration. In: Ohta, Y. Tamura, H., International Symposium on Mixed
Reality, San Francisco, USA 20-21 October 1999, Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Mller, P., 2010. Interview on economyaustria Interview by Christian
Stemberger. [online] Available at: <http://www.economyaustria.at/
technologie/buerger-machen-staat-20>[Accessed 23 September 2010].
Petrin, J., 2010. Interview on Nexthamburg Interviewed by
Stephan Landau and Peter Fey, 11 June 2010.
Shirky, C., 2008. Here Comes Everybody: Te Power of Organizing
Without Organizations, New York: Penguin Press.
Streich, B., 2005. Stadtplanung in der Wissensgesellschaf
Ein Handbuch, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.
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und Visualisierungsmethoden fr die stdtebauliche Gestaltungsplanung.
Ph. D. (Dr.), Technische Universitt Kaiserslautern.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 523
Adaptive Architecture
A Conceptual Framework
Holger Schndelbach
DipArch MArch PhD
Mixed Reality Laboratory, Computer Science,
University of Nottingham
Tel.: (+44) 0115 9514094
Adaptive Architecture is a multi-disciplinary feld concerned with
buildings that are designed to adapt to their environments, their
inhabitants and objects as well as those buildings that are entirely driven by
internal data. Because of its multi-disciplinary nature, developments across
Architecture, Computer Science, the Social Sciences, Urban Planning and
the Arts can appear disjointed. Tis paper aims to allow readers to take a
step back advancing the exploration of thematic and historical links across
this exciting, emerging feld. To this aim, it presents a cross-disciplinary
framework of Adaptive Architecture, discussing motivations for creating
Adaptive Architecture, before introducing the key interlinked components
that creators draw on to create adaptiveness in buildings. Tis is followed
by a brief outline of overarching strategies that can be employed in this
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 524
Adaptive Architecture is concerned with buildings that are designed
to adapt to their environments, their inhabitants and objects as well as
those buildings that are entirely driven by internal data. Te term is an
attempt to incorporate what people imply when they talk about fexible,
interactive, responsive or indeed media architecture, the mounting interest
in this emerging feld being demonstrated by the large variety of recent
publications, (Kronenburg, 2007) (Harper, 2003) (Streitz et al., 1999).
Overall, Adaptive Architecture is not a well defned feld of architectural
investigation. It ranges from designs for media facades to eco buildings,
from responsive art installations to stage design and from artifcial
intelligence to ubiquitous computing, just to mention a few examples
(Tscherteu, 2009, Roaf et al., 2007) (Bullivant, 2005) (Eng et al., 2003)
(Rogers, 2006). As will be clear to anyone attending this conference,
Adaptive Architecture brings together a number of diferent concerns
stemming from a wide variety of disciplines, spanning Architecture,
the Arts, Computer Science and Engineering among others. Whether
buildings in this context are described as fexible, interactive or dynamic,
they embrace the notion of Architecture being adaptive rather then being a
static artefact, ofen with an emphasis on computer supported adaptation.
Tis multi-disciplinarity has great advantages when the latest developments
in diferent areas converge to create exciting new designs, experiences
and lived-in buildings. It can also make the emerging feld of Adaptive
Architecture appear overly complex and disjointed. Tis might lead to
the same ideas being constantly recycled without reference to precedent
because it hides in a diferent discipline. Tis becomes a problem, when
the same mistakes are repeated. Tis paper will not solve this problem,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 525
but it aims to contribute to a better understanding of developments in
Adaptive Architecture across its component disciplines. For this, a more
conceptual view of the feld is required that demonstrates thematic and
historical linkages across the entire area.
Tis conference contribution has the simple aim to explore the burgeoning
feld in a rigorously structured fashion categorising the key elements of
adaptive buildings, regardless of where they are employed, from Plug in
City to Eco Houses(Price, 2003) (Willmert, 2001). With this aim in
mind, the paper does not revolve around case studies and a description
of their properties. Instead it focuses on common properties of Adaptive
Architecture, which are then illustrated with case studies. Tis is done
by proposing a structure for discussion and categorisation, which will be
introduced below. In what follows, the term Adaptive Architecture will
be defned, before introducing the framework itself. Tis will be followed
by a brief discussion of common design strategies that architects have
access to when designing for adaptiveness.
Definition of Adaptive Architecture
All Architecture is adaptable on some level, as buildings can always be
adapted manually in some way. Brands How Buildings learn provides
an insight into the diferent levels of adaptation to be expected and how
these apply over diferent time scales (Brand, 1994). Te use of the term
Adaptive Architecture must therefore be seen in this overall context
and the following delineates between adaptable and adaptive: Adaptive
Architecture is concerned with buildings that are specifcally designed to
adapt (to their environment, to their inhabitants, to objects within them)
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 526
whether this is automatically or through human intervention. Tis can
occur on multiple levels and frequently involves digital technology (sensors,
actuators, controllers, communication technologies). Taking the above
context into account, this defnition and associated framework is therefore
an attempt to incorporate a variety of approaches, such as those labelled
fexible, interactive, responsive, smart, intelligent, cooperative, media,
hybrid and mixed reality architecture (Kronenburg, 2007, Bullivant,
2005, Harper, 2003, Streitz et al., 1999, Zellner, 1999, Schndelbach et
al., 2007). All the above come with their own connotations and particular
areas of focus. Adaptive Architecture as it is presented here, is structured
to be independent of any of these particular concerns.
Before continuing with the body of the paper it is worth to set out one
additional delineation. Although the term Adaptive Architecture is ofen
used there, design processes themselves that are computationally adaptive
to data drawn from the environment, inhabitants or relevant objects are
not included in the framework. Recent approaches in generative design
methods and data driven architecture highlight such adaptiveness during
the design process. However, these do not necessarily in themselves lead to
buildings that are adaptive during their occupied life cycle. However, they
certainly do present a fascinating research feld in themselves.
The framework
Te framework itself is structured along the following categories. It
begins with motivations and drivers, asking the fundamentally important
question for the reasons of the construction of Adaptive Architecture.
Tis is followed by a series of more practice-related categories detailing
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 527
components of adaptive buildings. Te framework steps through what
adaptive buildings react to, what elements in adaptive architecture are
adapted, the method for adaptation and what efect adaptations have.
Figure 1 Top level famework categories
Te framework concludes with a discussion of overall strategies which
look to incorporate multiple tactics drawn from the various adaptation
components in overall strategies. Please compare Figure 1. Te above
categories are carefully illustrated through built cases, design prototypes
and the literature. However, this framework does not attempt to be
exhaustive in the way it makes use of examples. Te aim is not to list all
possible examples but to list those which illustrate the particular category
well. When appropriate, the same example can appear in multiple categories
for this reason. Te emphasis is on allowing the reader to step back, explore
links, make connections and understand historical dimensions of Adaptive
Architecture in a structured way.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 528
Motivations and Drivers
Motivations and drivers for designing for adaptiveness are numerous and
varied. Tey can lie in cultural, societal and organisational domains as well
as being concerned with communication and social interaction.
Adaptive spaces for cultural production have clearly a extended design
history. Teatre spaces and concert halls have long incorporated
technologies that allow them to adapt to diferent events and there is a
complex range or technologies available that allows this to happen. Tere
are other culturally focussed spaces that adapt to various parameters.
For example, Adaptive spaces are being created with the sole aim to
explore or demonstrate a particular scientifc debate. Te SPECS group
at UPF Barcelona creates what they term inside-out-robots, inhabitable
experimental spaces that are designed to allow researchers an exploration
of how the human mind works [SPECS, Synthetic Oracle, Barcelona,
Spain, 2008] . In a similar vain, adaptive spaces are set up to demonstrate
a particular issue through artistic and architectural exploration and
investigation, examples of this process being exhibited at CITA
Copenhagen. Here the intricate relationships between tangible physical
materials and intangible digital data are exposed through room-sized
robotic membranes [CITA, Vivisection, Charlottenberg Art Museum,
Copenhagen, Denmark, 2006]. A diferent direction is taken by cultural
architecture that focuses on education. Recently, there has been a lot of
attention on learning environments and the InQbate space at Sussex
University is an interesting case in point. It combines rotatable partitions,
curtains and fexible seating with a high-tech layer of digital technologies
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 529
to allow fexible projections and audio productions for example [Sussex
University, InQbate, Brighton, UK, 2007].
One of the most prominent societal reasons for the design for adaptiveness
is life style. Traditional Japanese domestic architecture responds to spatial
constraints by producing highly adaptive interiors, a strategy taken on board
by early modernists. Rietvelds Schrder house ofers sliding and folding
partitions to allow inhabitants to adapt the space to their needs [Rietveld,
Schrder House, Utrecht, Te Netherlands, 1924]. Nomadic life-styles,
whether traditional or modern, lead to buildings that are transportable
but also ofen re-confgurable. For example, Hordens iconic Skihaus was
a structure that could be airlifed to a mountain side to provide shelter
[Richard Horden, Skihaus, Switzerland, 1990-2005]. Clearly, the drive for
environmental sustainability is a key driver at present and buildings are
designed to adapt with the aim to lower the resulting CO2 emissions in
particular. Tere are many examples of such buildings, but the need for
further research is demonstrated by the recent extension of a research
programme making use of fully instrumented EcoHouses [Derek Trowell
Architects, Te BASF House, 2008, University of Nottingham, UK].
Another somewhat more mundane motivation is architectural fashion.
Architectural designs follow fashion but also technological trends to
some extent and individuals and organisations are interested in being part
of a particular trend, or at the very least not to appear entirely outdated.
Architecture can be designed to be responsive to such adaptations by
providing a fexible framework that allows relatively rapid updates.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 530
Te third category of motivations can be described as organisational.
Adaptive buildings are designed to deal with changing circumstances.
Te occupation of buildings changes at diferent time scales: there is
rapid change through diferent activities throughout a single day, medium
term change as result of re-organisations and longer term changes that
might impact not only the building itself but also its surroundings.
Some times the need to respond to diferent time scales fnds a direct
implementation as with the Pompidou Centre, where partitions have
diferent levels of fexibility depending on their purpose [Rogers & Piano,
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, 1977]. Te above applies to diferent
occupant categories from family units to large corporations and fnds
expression in projects of the related scales from Steven Holls Fukuoka
Housing project [Steven Holl, Fukuoka Housing, Fukuoka, Japan, 1991]
to Grimshaws Igus factory [Nicholas Grimshaw, Igus factory, Cologne,
Germany, 1999-2001]. In addition to changes in occupation, buildings
are also designed to cope with changes in their environments. In the most
extreme case a site becomes unsuitable and a portable building can then be
re-located. It might also be that a design attempts to anticipate more subtle
environmental changes, such as those caused by climate change. Certainly
larger organisations have then also been motivated by a drive to operate
buildings more efciently, and this has given rise to the relatively early
introduction of electronic building management systems into corporate
architecture roughly in the 1970s. More recently this has started to overlap
with the societal motivation to operate buildings in a more environmentally
sustainable way (see related section above). Modern ofce buildings
frequently combine efcient design and operation with sustainability
aims. Te University of Nottinghams Jubilee Campus developed is an
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 531
interesting example combining relatively low-tech construction with a
sophisticated set of building management tools [Michael Hopkins, Jubilee
Campus, Nottingham, UK, 1999]. Te fnal organisational motivation
can be summarised as fow management. Buildings are designed to cope
with varying fows of people triggered by for example time of day (diferent
fows during rush hours), emergency situations (allowing supporters on to
the football pitch in certain circumstances) and variations in activity. Such
fexible management is routinely done at large trafc exchanges and Foreign
Ofce Architects Yokohama ferry terminal provides a good example. Its
large open plan areas can be re-confgured to allow diferent streams of
passengers, to separate national from international departures for example
[Foreign Ofce Architects, Yokohama Ferry Terminal, Yokohama, Japan,
Te fnal motivation and driver identifed here is concerned with
communication. Tere are buildings that are designed to be adaptive so that
they better support diferent episodes of social interaction. In physical space,
this can be achieved through changing layouts to manage the location of
individuals in physical space, for example by re-arranging seating layouts as
seen at the Toronto Skydome [Robie & Allan, Toronto Skydome, Toronto,
Canada, 1988]. It is also related to fow management, highlighted when
the interaction between certain streams of people is prevented for example
in airport or court house design. Tere are also digital ways to adapt
buildings with the aim to enhance social communication. Conferencing
technologies, embedded into physical architectural design is designed to
bridge between multiple physical sites, in particular with a view to reduce
the need for travel [HP, Halo Telepresence System, Multiple Sites, 2007-
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 532
2010]. With the aim to support informal and spontaneous communication
between multiple ofce locations, hybrid spatial topologies introduce
virtually dynamic spatial relationships into the built environment
[Schndelbach, Mixed Reality Architecture, Multiple Sites, 2003-2010].
Less focussed on social interaction but instead concentrating on getting
across a message are those buildings that quite literally carry the corporate
image of an organisation. Te rapidly developing area of media-faades is
the most direct example of this and the new Munich football arena a good
case in point. Its faade changes colour depending on which team plays the
stadium [Herzog & de Meuron, Allianz Arena, Munich-Germany, 2005].
Beyond displaying a message, those approaches can also be used to engage
with a potential customer basis. Dythams iFly Virgin Wonderwall is an
early example of such a strategy, allowing passers-by to interact with the
faade via their mobile phones. [Klein Dytham Architecture, iFly Virgin
Wonderwall, Tokyo, Japan, 2000].
The Adaptive Building and it Components
For whatever reasons adaptive buildings are designed, constructed and
occupied, they have a number of fundamental elements that re-occur across
the design space that makes up Adaptive Architecture. Tese elements
will be discussed in what follows. Te frst category is concerned with in
reaction to what building are designed to be adaptive, which is followed
by a discussion of the elements that can be made to adapt. Te methods
of adaptations will be introduced before outlining some of the possible
efects. Where possible, each of the categories will be illustrated through a
relevant example.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 533
In reaction to what? -
Logical data source driving adaptations
In reaction to what is Architecture designed to be adaptive? Tree main
categories can be identifed. Adaptive Architecture responds to inhabitants,
the environment and objects, and those will be considered in turn.
Architects might focus their design eforts on individual inhabitants of
an adaptive building. Individuals might then be empowered to change
architectural layout manually or the building might respond to them in a
particular way automatically, for example drawing on personal data that
might be available to the building about them. Bill Gates residence is a well
known exemplar case in this context, where a body worn personal tag is able
to identify individuals and adjust temperature, music and lighting accordingly
[James Cutler Architects & Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Bill Gates House,
Medina, Washington, USA]. Most buildings are not just occupied by a single
individual however. Designing for adaptiveness for groups of individuals
can be a real challenge in turn. Once again an architect might concentrate
on providing the possibilities for manual adaptations. Tose will then be
negotiated amongst inhabitants. Te automatic adaptation of buildings
towards groups of individuals entails knowing something about their group
behaviour, probably learning over time and building up the necessary profles.
Technically, the complexity lies in aggregating from multiple streams of
personal data and fnding a way to aggregate those streams in a way that is
meaningful and useful. Te Adaptive House at the University of Colorado
explored that space by taking in data from multiple inhabitants to allow the
house to adapt a variety of parameters [Mozer, Te Adaptive House, Boulder,
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 534
USA, 1997]. Finally, organisations with organisation-wide motivations and
strategies are a group of inhabitants that design for adaptiveness has to address.
Organisational structures include those parts that manage the building facility
overall, those parts that operate facilities on a daily basis (frequently 3rd party
organisations) and the actual occupying organisation, which might well be
diferent from both the above. Adaptiveness needs to address their concerns
with regards to keeping facilities responsive to organisational changes but
also manageable on a day-to-day basis.
Adaptive Architecture can be designed to react to its exterior environment.
As already highlighted, it is the societal motivation to live more sustainably
that is a key driver in Adaptive Architecture at present. Adaptive elements
are also designed to react to the interior environment, for example to ensure
that temperatures inside are comfortable for inhabitants, but also to control
the energy expenditure in achieving a particular comfort level. Te previously
introduced University of Nottingham research building does both as many
technologically driven eco-projects would [Derek Trowell Architects, Te
BASF House, 2008, University of Nottingham, UK].
Adaptiveness in reaction to objects is comparatively much less common
or at least less discussed. Buildings can be thought of that react to
objects passing through. For example, a building might automatically
restrict access to specifc category of people when a specifc, may be a
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 535
particularly valuable, object is present. In a similar way, a warehouse might
prepare the correct loading bay in anticipation of a particular delivery
coming in. Objects within buildings can also play a more direct role in
the process of adaptiveness in buildings. For example at the InQbate
learning environment, a tangible interface object based on a colour-coded
cube allows the mixing of ambient colour in the overall space [Sussex
University, InQbate, Sussex University, UK, 2007]. Finally, one might
also think about adaptive architecture that adapts to objects passing by or
overhead. Work within the Curious Home project at Goldsmiths college
has explored a domestic device that visualises the passing air trafc to give
people living in the fight path near busy airport a handle on what goes on
over their heads [Interaction Research Studio, Goldsmiths College, Te
Plane Tracker (Te Curious Home), 2007]. Extending this idea, taking
similar data streams, one could think of buildings that for example change
their acoustic properties, when objects are passing that produce unwanted
Elements of adaptation
Within each adaptive building there are a number of elements that
can be adapted. Elements of adaptation take a central role in Adaptive
Architecture. Teir selection is driven by the original motivations and by
what adaptive buildings react to. Tey directly impact on the efect that is
generated within an Adaptive Building (see below). Te following steps
through descriptions of the following elements of adaptations: surfaces,
components and modules, spatial features and technical systems.
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 536
External and internal surfaces can be made to adapt. External adaptive
surfaces are typically facades. Fundamentally there are two forms of
adaptations. Mechanical adaptations change the appearance and overall
properties of an architectural surface by mechanically altering its
components. Te Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris has demonstrated the
maintenance difculties that such technical complexity brings to the fore
[ Jean Nouvel, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France, 1989]. Lighting
and display technologies ofer the second technical way for adapting
surface elements. Such technologies are the original core of media faade
work and there are many existing examples. Cook and Fouriers Kunsthaus
embeds individually addressable lights into its faade that can be
combined for graphical efects and to display text [Peter Cook and Colin
Fourier, Kunsthaus Graz (BIX), Graz, Austria, 2005]. Internal surfaces are
also frequently adapted to diferent needs. Ofen this is for information
visualisation. Very commonly, digital image projection transforms
architectural surfaces into information displays. Tere are also dedicated
eforts to make more surfaces writeable-on. InQbate, the learning space
at Sussex University already mentioned combines both of these strategies
[Sussex University, InQbate, Sussex University, UK, 2007]. Another type
of surface adaptation is concerned with making decorative changes and
through that infuencing the ambiance of a room. Winfelds Blumen
Wallpaper is an interesting example as it adapts its lighting patterns
and through those changes the appearance of the wall surface [Rachel
Wingfeld, Blumen Wallpaper, 2004].
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 537
Components and modules
Te next sub-catebory is focussing on components and modules.
Components can be re-used, i.e. building construction that is focussed
on re-using existing components such as the work by Santiago Cirugeda
[Santiago Cirugeda, Urban Prescriptions, Barcelona, Spain 2005].
Components can clearly also be specifcally designed to increase
adaptiveness. Weatherheavens Series 4 portable shelter is designed around
such a strategy for example [Weatherheaven Resources Ltd., Series 4,
(Product), 2010]. Tere are also internal adaptive elements that do
not require the replacement of any one component. Adaptive internal
partitions are possibly one of the most common adaptive features in
architecture. Koolhaas Floriac House incorporates partitions that fold
down and disappear into the foor for example [Rem Koolhas, Floriac
House, Bordeaux, France, 1995]. Going one step up in scale, the re-use
of modules is another possibility and has a long history in architectural
design. Archigrams archetypal plug-in city is the pre-cursor of many of
the schemes that can be placed in this space. Kurukawas Nakagin Capsule
Tower is a constructed example, in which standardized cubicle units
are fxed to a central tower containing services and circulation [Kisho
Kurukawa, Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo, Japan, 1972]. At least in
principle they are designed to be removed and re-located. Projects by Wes
Jones, especially the project Pro/Con then appear to include the various
uses of components and modules in the same scheme [Wes Jones, Pro/
Con, Los Angeles, USA, 2004].
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 538
Spatial features
Spatial features can be transformed, ranging from location, topology,
and orientation, to form, the link between inside and out and internal
partitioning. Te location of buildings can change during the occupation
life-cycle. One particularly interesting example is Bhtlingks Markies, an
extendable camper trailer that is able to fold out its sides to create a larger
enclosure [Eduard Bhtlingk, Markies, the Netherlands, 1985-95]. Actual
buildings that draw on such principles are more transportable rather
than mobile necessarily and frequently combine the re-confgurability
of diferent units to establish diferent architectural topologies. Lot-eks
Mobile Dwelling Units are based on standard shipping containers and
designed to follow people to wherever they live [Lot-ek, MDU (Mobile
Dwelling Unit, Transportable, 2002]. Even when the site location of a
building remains fxed, some radical changes can be achieved through
changing the orientation of parts of an adaptive building. Sturm and
Wartzech explore the impact on the relationship to the buildings
relationship to its environment [Sturm und Wartzech, Kubus, Dipperz,
Germany, 1996]. And beyond rotation, there are also a number of design
projects that play with adapting the form of buildings. Changeable roof
covers are probably the most common type of building in this category.
Tere are various sports stadia the roofs of which can be opened and
closed, depending on the weather conditions. Studio Gang ODonnells
Teatre takes a similar strategy to a cultural performance space, allowing
directors to open the roof, refecting what is currently being played [Studio
Gang ODonnell, Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Teater, Rockford Illinois,
2003]. May be a slightly less common way to adapt forms are buildings
that adapt in size, but relatively recently there have been a number of
projects that are based on what might be called drawer designs, allowing
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 539
inhabitants to pull out parts of the building to adapt the interior space.
One interesting example in this context is Seifert & Stckmanns Living
Room project that incorporated an extendable room cantilevered over
an external void when drawn out [Seifert & Stckmann, Living Room,
Gelnhausen, Germany, 2005]. Taking the adaptation of form to its
extreme, are those examples that change the actual shape of buildings in a
more fuid and less prescribed fashion. Hyperbodys Muscle Re-confgured
highlight interesting possibilities combining fabric architecture and fexible
hydraulics [Hyperbody, Muscle Re-confgured, Delf, Te Netherlands,
2004]. Buildings can also be designed to be adaptive in their spatial
topology. Tis concerns designs where the relationship between individual
architectural units (modules or rooms) is not fxed during the occupancy
of a building. Tis can be achieved through physical re-confgurations.
Prices seminal Generator Project provides some of the key inspiration in
this area [Cedric Price, Generator Project, Project, 1978]. Achieving the
above is technically very challenging, certainly when exterior surfaces are
involved. However, there have been a number of interesting projects that
focussed on physically adaptive topologies in the interior space. Shigeru
Bans Naked House plays with this idea by enclosing a number of rooms
on wheel bases in the larger open-plan volume of a residential propterty.
Only service areas are fxed, while living quarter can be re-arranged at will
for diferent purposes [Shigeru Ban, Te Naked House, Hadano, Japan,
1997]. Tere are also eforts to increase topological fexibility through
communication technologies. Such hybrid spatial topologies consist of
multiple physical spaces, typically remote to each other that are linked
through audio and video. Tese technological links, especially when
persistent link other locations as if they were close by and part of the same
architectural confguration. Some times this is direct and predominantly
designed for domestic environments as in the ComHome project [Stefan
MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena 540
Junestrand, ComHome proejct, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden, 1999]. Other
projects have explored the use of a mediating 3D virtual space for an
inhabitant driven hybrid spatial topology in a work setting such as the
Mixed Reality Architecture prototype [Holger Schndelbach, Mixed
Reality Architecture, Multiple Sites, UK, 2003-2010]. A very prominent
adaptive feature in building architecture is confguration of the inside/
outside link. All occupied buildings have doors and windows but there
are some projects that highlight particularly interesting possibilities in this
area. Early modernist seemed to have a particularly strong interest in this
form of adaptation. Gaudis Casa Batla includes an ornamental exterior
window panel that can be retracted up into the ceiling to create a balcony
[Gaudi, Casa Batlo, Barcelona, Spain, 1904-106]. A similar strategy was
followed by van der Rohe in his Tugendhat House that included a glass
partition that slide into the foor to open the building up to outside [Mies
van der Rohe, Tugendhat House, 1929-30, Brno, Czech Republic]. On a
larger scale, and using an entirely diferent and more ambitious engineering
solution, Hobermans Arch project translates this idea to stage design,
connecting back to the principle of stage curtains [Chuck Hoberman,
Hoberman Arch, Salt Lake City, USA, 2002].
Technical Systems
Te fnal element of adaptation concerns technical systems. In Adaptive
Architecture, they are those systems, consisting of sensors, systems
(sofware) and actuators, which actually produce adaptations when they
are not entirely based on human intervention. Technical systems are at
once elements of adaptation (they are being adapte