Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Zaragoza - Digital Mile

In December William J. Mitchell presented The Zaragoza ‘Digital Mile’ (detailed info) to the students at the Bartlett.The Zaragoza ‘Digital Mile’ will incorporate digital media into everyday aspects of the public realm to make places that respond to their users; accommodate multiple activities; and provide stories, information and services to the people of the city. It will question how can technology enhance public use and enjoyment? Can it make space more productive, or meaningful? What types of urban forms best accommodate digital media? Can it create a public realm that is more flexible and adaptable to different users, activities, or moods? How do you develop content for the media and who should manage it?
All of the spaces, parks and buildings on the Digital Mile include free, public wireless connectivity as well as open access to the digital systems and responsive media elements located along the Mile. Digital systems are programmable according to users’ wishes and thus facilitate experiences on the Digital Mile.
These are concentrated along the pedestrian path called the Paseo del Agua. The WATER WALL is an interactive fountain where people can digitally control the streams of water. With a command – by jumping into the water or sending a message through an electronic device – the water can start and stop or change in pressure. This is a monumental urban element like a canal running through the city, but twisted into a vertical plane so that people can experience it from a distance as a landmark or interact with it directly. The intelligent streetlight system creates a distinctive atmosphere along the Mile by changing color or intensity in response to the time of day, demands for use, or artistic desires. In tandem, digital street furniture - - like cafĂ© tables, bus stops, and signage — display information about such practical matters as menus, bus arrivals, or the location of available parking spaces. These digital systems are intended to make moving through the Digital Mile a seamless, entertaining, and instinctive experience. Two event places, Portillo and Almozara, anchor the Digital Mile and feature responsive digital elements to support different activities and enhance users’ perceptions of the urban environment.
Affixed to the facades of buildings, URBAN PIXELS delineate the edges of the Zaragoza Digital Mile from the rest of the city. When viewed from the air or from the ground by pedestrians, drivers, and train passengers, this ‘light’ footprint intervention works synchronously or asynchronously to emphasize different moods or zones along the Digital Mile. Each pixel unit includes a solar charging unit and can be programmed wirelessly.
The MEMORY WALK walk makes visible the way people travel through the city by recording pedestrians’ steps across a space. Every time a footstep falls on a digital paver, the paver emits an additional increment of light. As people cross the pavement, paths of light are illuminated where people tread the most; untread areas emit no light. Thus, people become aware of the traces their movements leave upon the surfaces of the Digital Mile.
DIGITAL AWNINGS are screens that can rotate in four directions: up, down, left, and right. The movement of the awnings is controlled by either pre-programming, a command by mobile phone, in response to people’s physical movements, or in the service of a collective special event. This system enhances the experience of the Digital Mile by displaying abstract, impressionistic, provocative, personalized, or integrative content, including information and images related to Zaragoza’s history or people’s real-time activities in other areas of the Digital Mile.

Dey Street Tunnel - James Carpenter Design Associates

The Dey Street Tunnel is a pedestrian tunnel that connects Fulton Street with the World Trade Center subway stations. For this project, a design by James Carpenter Design, Kinecity investigated several interactive solutions for LEDs in a space without natural light. The physical space animates as people walk through the tunnel at different rates, at different densities and from different directions.
The LED lighting is integrated into only one wall of the tunnel through apertures in the polished stainless steel walls. The other walls, a combination of highly reflective and matt surfaces, create an illusion of multiple spaces and depths inside them.

Interactive Design: Kinecity Llc

Interactive Applets: Martin Wattenberg

Electronic Textiles: Loop.pH

Rachel Wingfield and Mattias Gmachi work together as Loop.pH, a design and research studio which investigates and creates new surfaces and structures. Their reactive surfaces are often inspired by natural forms and processes, expressed as both 2-D and 3-D forms using light, colour and electroluminescent technology. The pictures above show Digital Dawn, a light reactive window blind.
Using printed electroluminescent technology it emulates the process of photosynthesis, reacting to changes in ambient light levels. As the space becomes darker the blind becomes brighter, maintaining a balance in the light level. This concept of light-reactive textiles was explored further in Light Sleeper, a silent alarm clock which is a set of bedding containing electroluminescent material.

Similar technology was used in Blumen, an electronic wallpaper display. The wallpaper is built up from a number of addressable cells forming a repeating pattern across the surface. Each cell can be addressed individually and when connected to sensors Blumen becomes an animated pattern, emerging and altering in response to its environment. Temporal Light takes a similar approach, embedding the electroluminescent material into tiles which act as pixels in the display.
Also interesting is Biowall, a hand-woven 3-dimensional structure created by bending fibreglass rods into rings which are then woven into dodecahedra. These in turn are joined together to form lace-like walls of any size. The finished structure is self-supporting while maintaining some of the flexibility of a textile.

Light-transmitting Concrete

The light-transmitting concrete created by LiTraCon is created by embedding thousands of optical glass fibres into concrete. These fibres lie parallel to each other forming a pathway for light to travel from one side of the concrete block to the other. In theory, a wall might be several metres thick without any loss of light between surfaces. As the light reaches the other side of the block unchanged, sharp shadows can be seen through the wall.
The strength of the concrete is not affected by the glass fibres which make up only 4% of the content of the block and the concrete blocks can be used for both load-bearing and interior walls as well as pavements. If the walls are built facing east or west the light at sunset or sunrise will reach the glass fibres at a lower angle increasing the light intensity.