Hybrid Space Lab and Networked Participatory Design Systems
Coinciding with the rise of digital tools that foster participatory systems, Hybrid Space Lab is an entity that exists in the realm between architect and client, the traditional shapers of space. Here Elizabeth Sikiaridi and Frans Vogelaar of Hybrid Space Lab share three of their projects (CITY KIT, DIY Pavilion, SIMPLE CITY) and their thoughts on networked participatory design systems today.
City Kit is a combined urban planning program and computer game designed to help residents upgrade their neighborhoods. The project was developed for the Hong Kong Social Housing Authority to target group young people who were spending more time playing computer games than exploring the outside world.
City Kit turns these young people into the “makers” of the city, providing a bridge between the users of the urban environment and the experts—the architects and the urban planners.
By playing the game, residents can adapt and improve their local physical environment by building a digital version of their own neighborhood. Using modular building components that can be moved around and fixed in certain places in the environment, users can build micro-stages, exhibition decks, floating bars and theatres, swimming pools and other recreational facilities that make living in the neighborhood more fun.
City Kit is also an open-source medium in which participants can add elements and share their designs. An online platform in the form of a website allows residents to actively take part in the game. All it takes is a simple click of the mouse to interactively test your own virtual version of City Kit.
Residents and game users can design their own objects and facilities and can realize their ideas: A "real" object, an analog version of the proposed City Kit element, can be built at the chosen location. On the website, the user can also pinpoint exactly where a digital object should be located in the real world. This can even be done using a mobile phone.
The goal of City Kit is to help citizens revalue their local surroundings and incorporate the new, imaginative layers created in the game's virtual world. Making small modifications to the personal, physical environment in digital space changes the experience of living in the real world.
The City Kit project led to the DIY Pavilion, first presented at the waterfront promenade of Hong Kong within the framework of the Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-city Biennial of Urbanism and Architecture 2009-2010, and later set up at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre and at the Kwai Tsing Theatre in Hong Kong.
Following the City Kit concept, users can co-create their design of the pavilion. The pavilion's architecture is based on an architectural design principle with a flexible structure that can adapt to site and program requirements, to different content, context and spatial situations. The structure of the pavilion's architectural design principle makes it possible to involve the users in the design, building and transformation of the pavilion.
The pavilion consists of triangular plywood plates sewn together with the help of cable binders. It is a flexible mobile structure to be easily disassembled, transported, reassembled and sewn together again, adjusting to the size of the site and the local requirements.
Videos on urban issues were projected on the triangular crystalline structure of the pavilion’s interior as the pavilion traveled to the different locations for community education.
Within the framework of the Simple City installation, Hybrid Space Lab recently presented both projects, City Kit as well as the DIY Pavilion, at the MAKK Museum of Applied Arts Cologne (May to August 2012) and in the first issue of Plan - Architecture Biennial Cologne (September 2012).
The Simple City is an interface for the participatory development of urban projects by professionals and laymen. The design of this simulated urban environment can be broken down to simple elements that can be copied and modified by the users of the city. By copying, pasting and modifying the basic elements, the participant can easily adapt the urban design in order to develop new urban settings.
With its modular setting, Simple City corresponds to the serially produced, global, generic city (with all the instabilities and breaks), and refers to the city of the industrial age that was produced by the addition of generic urban elements via mass production. Therefore the model elements of the Simple City installation were built with the help of modular building bricks that were sponsored by the Danish company LEGO.
Simple City is an interface that enables the communication of dynamic and networked information on urban projects. It forms an environment for interactive collaboration and for communication of process-oriented urban and architectural projects. This includes projects on the energy and material cycles of the city, on urban conversion and on networked participatory urban and architectural design, such as the City Kit and the DIY Pavilion projects.
Elizabeth Sikiaridi and Frans Vogelaar founded Hybrid Space Lab, an R&D and design practice, based in Berlin, focusing on the hybrid fields that are emerging through the combination and fusion of environments, objects and services in the information-communication age. The scope of our development and design projects ranges from those on urban games and planning to buildings, architectural interiors and industrial design applications and wearables.
Hybrid Space Lab is an interdisciplinary environment with an innovative and integrated approach to spatial issues. The focus of our work lays in fusing digital and analog environments, in embedding media networks in urban/architectural, social and cultural spaces.
Hybrid Space Lab is a lab and a network in which architects, urbanists, landscape architects and environmental planners, designers, soft- and hardware engineers collaborate in the development of projects for combined analog and digital, urban, architectural, design and media spaces.
Hybrid Space Lab recently developed visions for the program of the new institute that will be formed by the merger of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, the Netherlands Institute for Design and Fashion (Premsela), and the institute responsible for digital culture (Virtueel Platform).