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MindMixer – Supporting public dialogues

Mind_Mixer_01
MindMixer is a tool that lets citizens and community planners engage in public dialogues without meeting personally. It was inspired by town-hall-style meetings, where engaged citizens talk to their representatives and expose their views on the decision-making process. Such meetings, however, require the citizens to be at certain place at a certain hour, something that someone with family and work obligations might not be able to achieve. As a result, only a narrow demographic group can attend such meetings regularly and broad sectors of the population can not let their voice be heard.

MindMixer addresses this problem and takes the town-hall discussions online, through a web application that connects local institutions with the citizens. Universities, hospitals, and school districts can open conversations about a certain topic and collect the views of the community members. The system gives the city representatives important information about the decision-making process. For example, they have access in the back-end to demographic data of the people who are posting their views. In one particular case there was strong support for extended library hours, however they found out that most of this support came from the downtown areas. This data can lead, for instance, to extend the opening hours of only those libraries at the downtown.

MindMixer makes easier for governments to involve the citizens in the decision-making processes and take a wider range of opinions into consideration. For the citizens MindMixer offers an uncomplicated way to participate in the public discussion and let their voice be heard.

Watch some videos about MindMixer

Bolshoy ice dome

Bolshoy ice domeThe Bolshoy ice dome was one of the 2014 Winter Olympic games’ venues. The dome, which has about 12.000 seats, hosted the indoor winter sports during the 2014 Olympics and will be used as a top sport venue after the games. The dome’s design was done by SIC mostovik, a local architectural company, that used a frozen drop as inspiration for the form. The ellipsoid-design is also compared by some people to a Fabergé egg.

The upper section of the building’s facade is made of white aluminum panels that follow the ellipsoid-design of the dome. Additionally there are 38.000 LED installed across the dome’s surface, which covers an area of 31.745 square meters. While the pitch between LEDs is large, they can still be used to display images, i.e. they work as a media facade.

The lower section of the dome is enclosed in glass. This creates a connection between the exterior and interior areas of the building and allows the visitors to appreciate the surrounding areas from the inside.

Bolshoy ice domeBolshoy ice domeBolshoy Ice DomeBolshoy ice dome

Bolshoy ice dome credits:


Architects: SIC mostovik
project team: alexander knyazev, valia vdovina, oleg tsymbal, natalya temnikova, nikita tsymbal, dmitry akulin, inna sitaeva, andrey zinoviev, natalia egorova, igor kolchanov, ilya dobzhinsky
engineers: andrey ustinov, andrey veter
structural engineers: inforce project
project year: 2009-2012
construction year: 2009-2012
pictures: © http://www.sochi2014.com © http://sochi2014.olympics.com.au

Cyclephilly – Citizen generated data

Cyclephilly © cyclephilly.orgCyclephilly is an online map and a mobile application that let the users record their daily routes in the city of Philadelphia. Although it has been around only for a couple of months, it can be already called a success story.

A great thing about Cyclephilly is that it was in part developed by a non-programmer, Corey Acri. He came in contact with Code for America with little coding skills but with a good understanding about the institutions and instruments needed to push a project like this. He and his team colleagues, Lloyd Emelle and Kathrin Killebrew, worked together with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia to design the app. Since the launch of Cyclephilly in May it has managed to attract about 150 users, which in turn have recorded more than 5000 trips. The numbers speak by themselves.

(more…)

Colpatria tower – A media facade in the Andes

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

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

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

3D Print canal house

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

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

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

Homebrew sensing project – Citizen science

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

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

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

Homebrew sensing project © Jeff WarrenWatch a video of the spectrometer…

neighbor.ly – Altruism in the digital age

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

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

© neighbor.ly - Fund raising for local communities(more…)

SCSD – Smart citizen sentiment dashboard

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

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

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

Workshops Smart Citizen Dashboard © Nina Valkanova and Moritz BehrensSmart citizen sentiment dashboard © Nina Valkanova and Moritz BehrensWatch a video of Smart citizen sentiment dashboard

Fruit city – Mapping fruit trees

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

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

Discovery wall – Zoom into medical research

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

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

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

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