596 Acres

In New York City there are more than five hundreds acres of publicly owned vacant land that are not being used and remain closed behind fences and chains. This land is concentrated in neighborhoods that are in need for beneficial land uses such as community gardens. 596 Acres is a project that facilitates access to New York city’s publicly owned land through the use of open source tools and hands-on mentorships. In this way, 596 acres help the communities to access unused lots, transform them temporarily, and so, improve the quality of life in the area where they live in.

596 in East Harlem © 596 Acres
A key tool of the 596 acres project is an online map that shows the location of the vacant lots and basic information about them. Each lot is connected to mailing-lists that let the persons interested in a particular lot to engage with others, exchange ideas, and keep everybody updated on the actions taken to access the lot. The members of the mailing-list can either watch a lot or participate as an organizer, depending on the role the members will get more or less information about the activity concerning a particular project. The map also has information about the responsible officials of each lot, facilitating in this way the communication with the persons that can grant access to vacant land. Finally, the system also helps to build a citywide network of organizers that can interchange ideas as well as knowledge on how to reclaim vacant land.

The online map and the other tools created by 596 acres facilitate access to vacant lots by: (1) publishing municipal information online as well as on the actual lots, by placing signs that explain the legal status of the lot and the actions needed to transform it; (2) providing information to the citizens about city government procedures and the steps needed to participate in the decision-making processes that shape their neighborhoods; (3) supporting local communities with legal support and campaign-development on issues related to land use; (4) keeping networks that enable both internal interchanges of knowledge and contact with decision-makers; (5) supporting the groups that already got access to publicly owned land to build  sustainable community governance and guide them in their role as public land stewards; and (6) promoting participatory decision-making processes among municipal agencies to increase citizen participation.

596 Acres is a project of the Fund for the City of New York.


Every year in Denmark about 400.000 bicycles are discarded. Niels Bonefeld and Henrik Mortensen identified a chance in this problem and decided to take action. They figured out how to collect, repair and reuse some of the Denmark’s scrapped bicycles and send them to Sierra Leone and Mozambique. They created a schema that links a bicycle rental shop in Copenhagen with micro-loans in Sierra Leone and Mozambique. In this way, Baisikeli avoids the waste of resources and contributes to the development of different countries.

At the beginning Baisikeli stumbled upon some bureaucratic hurdles, as the police could not allow the founders to collect the unclaimed bicycles from the lost property office. However, Denmark’s insurance regulations helped the Baisikely team to accomplish its objectives. Every bicycle that is reported as stolen and found after the owner has been compensated is given to the insurance company. Apparently, the large amount of lost and found bicycles became a nuisance for the companies, which were happy to give the bicycles away to Baisikeli instead of stockpiling them. A quote taken from the Baisikeli website explains the position of an insurance company: “We get great number bicycles from the police every year. The bicycles has typically been stolen and customers compensated. Later the bicycles turn up somewhere and are given back to Codan. Instead of piling up the bicycles, we support a very good purpose by giving away the bicycles to European Baisikeli.” (sic)

Baisikeli Workshop
After making a first shipment of bicycles to Sierra Leone, it became clear that Baisikeli needed an additional source of income to be sustainable in the long term. Thus, Bonefeld and Mortensen opened a non profit workshop in the center of Copenhagen, where they repaired second hand bicycles that were either sold or rented to tourists, companies or exchange students. The revenue allowed the team to open a second workshop is Sierra Leone.

The workshops in Sierra Leone and Mozambique sell bicycles using a micro-loan schema created by a local bicycle mechanical. This schema allows the locals to buy the second-hand bicycles and pay for them in a six-month period. Parallel to this activities, the members of Baisikeli travel regularly to the workshops and exchange knowledge about mechanics, administration and logistics with their partners in Africa. The long term goal of the project is to start the production of bicycles in Africa and contribute to the development and the mobility of the involved countries.
Video: henrikkaos –
Pictures: Baisikely –

Change by us

Change by Us is an online application that allows the citizens to submit ideas and collaborate on projects to improve their own city. With an opening screen similar to a sticky note board, the internet site encourages the publication of new ideas as well as the organization and participation in projects to realize such ideas. The project was initially created for the city of New York, but is has been also implemented in Philadelphia and Phoenix. As the code has been released under a AGPL license it emerges as a promising model for other cities and citizens interested to take action.

Change by us ©
The application does not only enable the citizens to share ideas, but it also let them promote their project among other people interested, and facilitates the collaboration for the realization of an idea. For example, the citizens can join projects initiated by others as well as organize events and meetings. If volunteers are needed for a particular event, the system allows to publish volunteer needs, which can be fulfilled by other people participating in the project. In this way the platform brings together persons committed to change their city and helps them to organize and achieve their goals.

As the platform is not designed for a particular city, it can be adapted for the needs of other cities. While the source code of the application remained closed for a while, the whole application has been recently opensourced by the developing company, Local Projects, in collaboration with Code for America. This is an important step for the project and other cities, as it will enable to implement similar platforms around the globe to ignite local citizen engagement. It is a win-win situation because new cities will profit from a well designed and tested platform, while the existing implementations will profit from the new ideas and improvements brought by the new members. In other words, open innovation for urban engagement.

The repository and the instructions for the installation can be found in Github.

Videos: Change by us /

Force Field, London

forcefield_62-e1312490900658 Force Field is the dynamic light installation Rogier van der Heide created with his students for the Gallery space Phase 2 in London. The work was developed in collaboration with Arup staff and with students from the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam. The installation consists of 64 inter-dependent luminous rods forming a wave of changing colour. The installation mimics the forces and energies that flow through a building and acts like a magnetic field. A sensor allows the visitor to change the colour or to scan an Oyster card to create a personalised light show. The result is a compelling walk-through environment of inspring you with 16 million colour variations. forcefield_4-e1312492935515 forcefield_51-e1312493276213 Credits:
concept: Rogier van der Heide
project team: Rogier van der Heide, Salomé Galjaard, Alexandra van Tintelen, and students of the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam
interaction idea: Duncan Wilson
interaction execution:
curator of Phase 2: Jennifer Greitschus

Eden Park, Auckland

EdenPark1_LG Eden Park, New Zealand’s largest sports ground, is well-known for hosting international and local cricket and rugby events. The Eden Park Trust recently renovated much of the stadium in order to provide an upgraded world stage for its high-profile events, such as the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Part of the redevelopment effort was a new 24,000-seat South stand, a three-tier structure that replaced the old South and South West.

EdenPark3_LG The Eden Park Trust needed dynamic lighting solution that would provide high-impact illumination for the South stand and enhance the stadium’s atmosphere and ambiance. Their requirement was that the lighting showcased the glass architecture and fern-shaped accents on the exterior of the stadium without overpowering its unique design. Philips partnered with New Zealand-based lighting designer Omar Shahab of Switch Lighting Design, Modus Lighting, and Aseco to complete the concept, design, and installation of the new light system. The team installed 24 varyingly spaced Philips Color Kinetics ColorReach Powercore LED flood light fixtures inside the lower rim of the glass façade. The fern structures are emphasized with saturated RGB light, while the rest of the South stand is lit in a vertical striped pattern, with dark spaces in between each stripe of light. Controlled by an iPlayer 3 controller, the new lighting solution allows the Eden Park Trust to create dynamic, fully customized light shows for the South stand. One of the applications of the new lighting system is matching the lights to colors of sports teams to help create an exciting atmosphere — at the recent All Blacks vs. Wallabies Bledisoe Cup match, the light fixtures were programmed with a light show featuring both teams’ colors. Since the completion of the lighting installation in 2011, the Eden Park Trust has been able to control the ambiance of the stadium at the touch of a button. Thrilled with the outcome, Tracy Morgan, General Manager of Sales & Marketing for the Eden Park Trust says, “Creating a solution for the South stand that was visually interesting was important to us — it needed to have the “wow” factor and Philips delivered exactly what we were looking for. The solution provides a visual spectacle for people passing by or attending the games and adds to the atmosphere.”


Lighting Hardware: Color Kinetics
Lighting Design: Omar Shahab, Switch Lighting Design
Programmer: Modus Lighting
Project Manager: Allan Stephenson, Philips Lighting
General Contractor: Aseco

Dornier Museum, Fiedrichshafen

Dornier_03_b_klein Friedrichshafen Airport has a new landmark: the Dornier Museum for aeronautics in Friedrichshafen is shaped like a hangar, impressively representing the fascination of flying. While, during the day, light penetrates into the building through large windows, the museum turns into a glittering point of light at night – with a lighting installation by James Turrell adding to the effect.

Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen
In the museum, visitors enter a bright, welcoming foyer. TECTON continuous rows and Vivo pendant luminaires make for a pleasant atmosphere. From the spacious entrance area with cafeteria and shop, visitors get into the museum box above, which illustrates the history of the Dornier company and the milestones of aviation in eleven rooms. Model airplanes, drawings and other historical exhibits are highlighted in glass display cabinets by means of batten luminaires and compact LED spots. The lighting design makes do without any windows, structuring the exhibition rooms in relatively bright and relatively dark zones that provide for variety on a tour through the museum, highlighting certain exhibits. The hangar contains the heart of the museum: a large hall with historical airplanes, many of them veritable curiosities. Slotlight luminaires with a special louvre ensure uniform illumination without undesired shadows.

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To highlight the exterior facade during the night, James Turrell has created a lighting work of art bringing visitors’ perception to new dimensions with its harmonious colour sequence. Thanks to innovative 16-bit control, the luminaires’ colour space was extended to several million colours, providing nearly unlimited freedom in lighting composition.

Lightning Hardware: Zumtobel
Owner: Dornier Stiftung für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Munich/D
Architect: Allmann Sattler Wappner Architekten, Munich/D
Lighting design: Belzner Holmes, Heidelberg/D
Lighting technology: Nelzner Holmes, Heidelberg/D
Electrical consultants: Raible + Partner, Reutlingen/D

Canopy, Toronto

canopy02 Inspired by the experience of walking through a forest’s dappled light, Canopy is a 90-meter long light sculpture spanning the front facade of the Maple Leaf Square building in Toronto, Canada. This permanent architectural installation is made of thousands of identical modules, organised in a non-repeating growth pattern. Their form, abstracted from the geometry of leaves, reflect nature. A combination of daylight and artificial light sweeping through the work recalls the activity of cells within a leaf, leaves in a forest canopy, or a city seen from the air.

uva_mls_1106 Credits:
UVA – United Visual Artists
Commissioned by Cadillac Fairview, Lanterra Developments & Maple Leaf Sports
Public Art Consultants: Public Art Management (Karen Mills and Justin Ridgeway)
Manufacturer and Installer: Soheil Mosun Limited
LED Technology: Saco LSI

Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi

1794 Capital Gate is an iconic 35-storey gravity defying tower, featuring the 5-star hotel Hyatt Capital Gate. The visually stunning tower has been built using some of the world’ s most advanced construction techniques and leans an astonishing 18-degrees westward. In June 2010, the Guinness Book of World Records certified Capital Gate as the “World’s furthest leaning man-made tower.”

Traxon & e:cue’ s lighting solutions and systems were chosen to accentuate the aesthetic splendour of the unique tower, making visible at night the exquisite relationships of iconic points, lines, angles, and surfaces. Selected for its powerful performance and bold, bright light output, 686 Wall Washer Shield XB RGB were installed – one fixture at the tip of each distinct diamond-shape on the tower’s external façade – allowing a flexible yet durable integration with the structure. The fixtures enable rich, colorful illumination and are visible at long distances. The entire installation is orchestrated by an intelligent control system consisting of Butler and Lighting Control Engine (LCE), allowing pre-programmed lighting show to be automatically triggered via the engine’s internal timelock and calendar settings. The control system also allows each Wall Washer Shield XB to be addressed fixture-by-fixture to allow replay and loop of dynamic lighting shows. From shifting colors and moving patterns, to symbolic scenarios, the lighting schemes enable Capital Gate to shine brilliantly, acting as a beacon to draw visitors to Capital Centre and symbolize UAE’s structure and strength.

1796 Credits:

Art Box, London

BTA_Image_1 To celebrate the 25th anniversary of ChildLine, BT is launching the BT ArtBox project – a vast, open-air art exhibition set to take over the capital’s streets this summer (18th June – 16th July). The Jason Bruges Studio BT Artbox is called Poppy Field. The name stems from the original George V phone boxes being painted Poppy Red, and digitally painting the box red through a field of LED lights. The lights shine back onto the Artbox from a field of stems projecting light patterns reminiscent of poppies with small buttons creating the dark shadows at the centre of each flower. As people walk past, sounds and vibrations are made making the lights overlap and move bringing the Artbox to life as if it were a gently moving field of poppies. See Poppy Field here featured in The Telegraph online.

BTA_Image_3 BTA_Image_5 Credits: Poppy Field was designed and built by Jason Bruges Studio with Darius Duke and Will McGrath from Middlesex University.

Lotus Dome – Winner MAB12

2 Lotus Dome’ is a living dome made out of hundreds of ultra-light responsive aluminum flowers. When approached, the big silver dome lights up and opens its flowers. Its behavior moves from soft breathing to a more dynamic mood when more people interact. The light slowly follows people, creating an interactive play of light and shadow. The graphic representations of the lotus flower on the walls and the deep bass sound transform the Renaissance environment into a ‘Techno-Church’.

1 The smart Lotus foil is specially developed by Studio Roosegaarde and their manufacturers, and is made from several thin layers of Mylar that fold open and close when touched by light. This high-tech craftsmanship is similar to the innovative thinking of the church’s architecture of the 16th century. Roosegaarde: “We’re updating Renaissance, applying a high tech layer that makes the architecture come alive”. ‘Lotus Dome’ is created for the city of Lille and it’s locals. The purpose was to activate the beautiful but deserted Renaissance building, and make the architecture become more alive and contemporary. This dynamic relation between people and technology is what Roosegaarde calls ‘Techno-Poetry’. “Lotus Dome functions as a mediator, connecting elements of architecture and nature, of the past and the future”. The city of Lille commissioned artist Daan Roosegaarde to inspire the inhabitants and experience their city in a new way. ‘Lotus Dome’ can be visited free of charge until 13 January 2013 in the Sainte Madeleine Church for the exhibition FANTASTIC by Lille3000. Studio Roosegaarde is the social design lab of artist Daan Roosegaarde. With projects ranging from fashion to architecture, he creates smart and social designs that instinctively interact with sound and movement. Roosegaarde exhibited at the Tate Modern, the National Museum in Tokyo and has won the Dutch Design Award.

4 5 6 7 Credits: Studio Roosegaarde – Whole artwork and realistation