Interactive Secret Garden – Motion-Triggered Interactive Installation at Sydenham Skatepark

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Team Members: Bening Wardani, Roy Yan Zibo

Concept Video. Cinematography & Editing by Roy Yan

This project seeks to design an interactive artwork for temporary installation through exploring the opportunities and gaps presented at the current site of Sydenham Green Skatepark.

Various gaps and opportunities were identified where an idea of interactive design could be leveraged and used to improve the experience of the skatepark.

Existing unused unique features of the skatepark were utilised, particularly the Secret Garden to house a playful installation to connect visitors of the skatepark with the site.

Primary and Secondary research were conducted to understand the context and issues at stake, including the significance of designing for playfulness at a public space. Furthermore, on-site observations were also conducted at the skatepark to have a deeper understanding of the space by creating visual maps to document our observations.

Video portrait of target audience. Cinematography & Editing by Roy Yan

These observations are further cross-referenced with the historical significance of the site, revealing more design opportunities which we can explore further.

User research was conducted to understand how people interact with other users and facilities at the skatepark. Visual maps and annotated photo series are used to document visible behaviour through tracing their movement patterns. Conversations with various visitors of the site and in-depth interviews with park users and one of the skaters who visits the park frequently were conducted to understand the significance of skateboarding to individuals.

The research has been accompanied by other relevant design precedents which inspired the technical and aesthetical aspects of our concepts. These ideas were thoroughly discussed through an ideation process. Concepts are then evaluated through design variables to access whether these concepts are intuitive and user-centered.

Concept: Interactive Secret Garden

From the brief, we are challenged to create motion-triggered interactive artworks for playful and creative experiences of both skaters and spectators.

We noticed that not a lot of visitors, including the action wheel sports players who frequently visits the skatepark, recognise the different features of the site. We saw the lack of interaction and use of the Secret Garden as an opportunity for us to create an interactive installation that could introduce and connect the visitors of the skatepark with the site.

The team seeks to reimagine the neighbourhood which once existed on the site through an Interactive Secret Garden full of miniature sculptures. We took the literally meaning of the theme “Playful Cities” to create a playful neighbourhood which comes to life through interactive elements and sensors. The whimsical installation hopes to enhance the experience of non-skaters and educate them on the historical significance of the park by highlighting the existence of the garden. The backyard elements in our miniature garden also links to the culture and history of the skateboarding.

Interaction Design

The interaction and visual design of our installation is informed by the Interaction Phases proposed by Müller, Alt, Michelis and Schmidt (2010). They suggest that in a public space, the first phase of interaction involves pedestrians and potential users of the interaction passing by. The second phase proceeds to these potential users looking at the display.

In order for the interaction phases to transit, our group has integrated the visual design components of our installation with the affordances of the site to attract these potential users over. Visual design communicated through the overall aesthetics of the miniature garden, as well as the lighting effects of LED string lights at idle state. The interaction phase then proceed to subtle interactions whereby users interaction with our installation through their body movements or gestures, such as waving at or walking past the PIR sensor. When interest in our installation has been provoked, direct interactions then occur as users further inspect our installation by positioning themselves right in front of our installation, hence triggering new forms of interactivity as users move across the 3 interactive zones: left right and center.

To encourage users to engage with our display multiple times, we combined the interaction and social space of the installation into area. This is to encourage more interactive elements to emerge — the design will respond differently as the number of users in front of the installation increases. In addition, moving furnitures are also designed to elevate the playfulness of our design, acting as a surprise element for the users.

Comfort spaces are located at the west and south-east side of the garden. Passersby who are not keen to join the crowd can still appreciate the installation from these areas. Finally, we aim to have our users engage in follow up actions, such as taking a photo of our installation and sharing these photos on social media.

Download full report of design process, design methods and user research.

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