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    Strategies for digital placemaking: a workshop review


    The 2016 Media Architecture Biennale (MAB16), in conjunction with Vivid Sydney, took place from June 1-4 in Sydney, Australia. The theme, digital placemaking, aimed to explore how technology and digital media with a ‘Smart Cities’ approach can lead to more livable urban environments.

    Susanne Seitinger, global sub-segment manager for open spaces and professional lighting systems at Philips Lighting, was one of this year’s keynote speakers and presented her extensive research regarding the role of light in public spaces. Additionally, Seitinger hosted a workshop regarding this topic, and explored how experiences can be turned into digital placemaking strategies.


    The goal of the workshop was to share best practices and design principles. The framework for the exercises were based on four levels of engagement that digital technologies facilitate – ambient, dynamic, responsive, and interactive.


    To prepare participants for the exercises, Seitinger assigned them homework – to capture their evening commute. Using GoPro videos, photo sequences, and more, this assignment helped the participants to understand how people experience nighttime differently.

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    The first exercise asked participants to split into smaller groups and examine an installation of their choice. What works? What doesn’t? The analysis of these installations helped participants understand outdoor lighting designs and concepts.


    For exercise two, teams were given lighting equipment and software (ColorPlay 3 and QuickPlay Pro) to prototype different experiences based on the selected location. They were asked to program lighting effects and create time-based interactive concepts in a public space.


    Finally, participants interviewed one another and guest lighting experts on their practice. Experts included Fiona Venn, Architectural Lighting Designer at WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff, Andrea Tammes, Visual Planner and Lighting Advisor, and Vessi Ivanova and Dean Griffin from Philips Lighting. By speaking to experts, as well as each other, participants were able to identify the best practices and design principles for digital placemaking at night.


    Susanne’s workshop fit seamlessly within the digital placemaking theme. The outcome of the discussions will be examined and potentially turned into a publication that can provide insight on public lighting for professionals around the globe.


    Learn more about MAB16 and Susanne’s workshop here