Seminar Interactive Streets April 8th
The Patching Zone, Zadkine Human Technology and Kosmopolis Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Zadkine Human Technology
Seminar room
Montessoriweg 14, 3083 AN Rotterdam

Interactive streets

The seminar focuses on Interactive Streets, a new trend that, through different channels, has silently become part of our lives.


At first glance most of the developments in the field of interactive environments seem to be unrelated, as they are developed by different expert groups and for different markets. Many discipline-specific, cutting edge developments have caught our attention in the past, due to the forecasted implications for their specific application domains. This involves e.g. health, computerized households and centralized community services. In this seminar we’ll explore another angle and analyze the emerging interactive outdoor field from several applicable theoretical backgrounds. Consequently we’ll be looking for crossovers and discuss the future scenarios with artists, designers, thinkers, developers, educators, students, market parties and policymakers. Special attention will be paid to the social implications and cultural parameters. The seminar explores how interactive outdoor environments affect our lives both in our leisure time or while we are en route. We are keen on learning from the work of early innovators and pioneers, as it is our goal to develop ideas for advanced services, improved devices and interactions that will positively contribute to the (social and cultural) quality of the city's public space. We’ll try to identify emerging fields and expose the challenges for technology, creativity and critical design. We’ll introduce the theme of this seminar with a brief outline of two current trends that are happening in many different fields; the relocation from our indoor activities to the outdoors and the search for sustainable energy resources.


Crossover: our daily outdoor reality

Let’s start close to our (fashionable) daily lives. In the leisure magazines the contemporary trendy 21st century human being is portrayed in environments that are liquid spaces. The indoor living room blends with the outdoor garden where one wines and dines with friends in the outdoor kitchen. Tablet computers and smartphones allow us to work in the park, on the boat or have our business meetings at heated terraces.  It becomes harder by the day to distinguish our ‘real’ from our virtual reality, because most of the time our physical environment is linked with our virtual networks via social media through our smartphone and tablet pc's; we live in a mixed reality. GPS, location-based apps and services, a recent rapidly grown branch of computer applications, all play into this. As we know location-based services exceeds the capabilities of navigation, interactive advertisement and tracking. Location-based services have encouraged youth to relocate from their indoor environment to the outdoors, in order to play augmented reality games that replace the computer desk with interactive playgrounds or smart schoolyards. Moreover it has enabled elderly to go outdoor for their exercises with a virtual trainer.

Crossover: sustainable energy

Another field of interest that connects a large variety of interactive outdoor developments is rooted in the desire (and the need) for alternative energy resources. Many scientists, artists and designers work on field research and carry out experiments for independent and sustainable power generation. Large scale smart infrastructural innovations are developed out in the international mobility field, such as the concept of solar highways, where regular asphalt is replaced by solar panels that are drivable by cars, and LEDs that interactively indicate the road lines from underneath the surface. Energy generation by other means than the known sustainable resources such as solar and wind also seem to have reached maturity by now. Interesting approaches to children's playground games have been developed that include an energy source charged by kinetic energy that is generated by the movement of their bodies. Other smart pavement and road innovations deal with energy that is generated from vibrations in the road paving.  

Design challenges

The above mentioned examples mainly identify the crossovers between technology and trends. In the Interactive Streets seminar however, we’ll investigate the implications and the embedded opportunities for the users’ experience. We’ll discuss how future applications in this field can be beneficial to specific social aspects in the city (of Rotterdam) and how we can use this technology to engage with the city's citizens as co-creators. Most of the above mentioned developments have been investigated and explored for decades by artists, designers and researchers. Today these developments have found breeding ground in the mainstream culture. For us the time is now to touch base and arrange a meeting among the pioneers and the future developers, commissioners and policy makers. We have invited four internationally acclaimed speakers, who will share their visions on design, based on their work in this field. After four inspiring lectures we invite you to participate in one of our workshops, where sharing expertise and experience will result in the creation of new ideas and inspiration for us all. In the afternoon workshops we’ll furthermore work on dreams, concepts and solutions and the design challenges that are to be expected.


This seminar is part of Mediawharf, The Zadkine mediastudio where praxis and knowledge meet, and its first assignment: Streetwise Billboards.

Mediawharf - Streetwise Billboards partners: The Patching Zone, Kosmopolis Rotterdam, Zadkine Human Technology. Crisp, Blast Theory (GB), Translocal (FI)

Sponsors: Stichting DOEN, VSB Fonds, SNS Reaal Fonds, Fonds voor Cultuurparticipatie, Europees Programma Cultuur, Stichting Bevordering van Volkskracht, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Alcatel One Touch

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