HOW CAN WE INTERACT IN PUBLIC SPACE DESPITE PHYSICAL DISTANCING?

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2020/2021 | Free University of Bozen | Group-Project

LUOGO COMUNE invites people to interact and offers space for sharing in public space. We want to give new value to the benches in Don Bosco, a district of Bolzano, while respecting physical distancing during times of Corona and promote social interaction in a playful way.

BACKGROUND

During the first semester 2020/21 at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano we worked on “Project 1 – Transforming the City by Care”, as our first project of the Master in Eco-Social-Design. We collaborated with OfficineVispa, with other local stakeholders, citizens and employees of the municipality to develop projects that should foster social-ecological transformations in Don Bosco.

We are Francesco, Ute and Julia, the brains and designers behind LUOGO COMUNE. We met this year for the first time and spent two weeks together in the university before we had to switch to our home offices and collaborate only digitally. This experience was new, sometimes dificult, incredibly enriching and intense, despite the physical distance.

MY RESPONSIBILITIES:

The research, conceptualizing and finding ideas mainly happened in collaborative online sessions. My main function in the later course of the project was the conceptual design of the interactive objects and the prototypes for testing. Therefor my focus was to develop a realistic mechanical concept, to develop design concepts and to build them up in a 3D program (CAD). For the final presentation I was responsible for the still-renderings and the creation of 3D-animations for our final case-video.

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The Coronavirus and the resultating lockdown dominated not only our research, but the entire world. While researching the effects that Corona has on our mental wellbeing, we realized that people lack opportunities to get in touch with each other. We believe that right now the feeling of loneliness and isolation spreads and the only social interaction takes place in a digital space - a space that is not available for everyone. But now it's more important than ever to process what happens and listen to each other’s experiences and struggles. 

While observing the neighborhood we realized that the public spaces are deserted – and the offered public benches aren’t used by the neighbourhood. We continued with intensed brainstorming in online sessions on how to make use and take advantage of this urban furniture in order to create objects that enrich the public spaces, not only in times of Corona.

»We created LUOGO COMUNE with the aim of proposing new ways to allow a community to interact in public spaces, share emotions during the pandemic, reducing the feeling of isolation and loneliness – symptoms of the pandemic we are experiencing.«

The project proposes 4 types of interactive objects to be connected to Don Bosco's benches. Add-on elements that enhance this urban furniture are at the complete disposal for inhabitants of the neighborhood.

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Our TURNING TABLE is a versatile communication tool for interacting in safety. It transforms according to the Corona regulations and is fostering a playful time together. Either it is a wall that invites people to draw or play together or during softer regulations, it transforms to a table that respects the distance. 

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The TALKING BENCH invites people for a chat with a friend or a stranger. By asking questions about our thoughts, anxieties and hopes, people can reflect together in uncertain times and share plans for the future. It is attached to the bench’s lean and forms like a book behind the people that sit here, which is metaphoric of exchanging stories. The sheet between the users is keeping the needed hygienic distance.

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The HAPPY BOX shares happiness, therefore is strengthening the community feeling and is improving one’s own mental health. Because doing good, does you good. It invites passengers to write an anonymous happy-task or -message to someone of the neighborhood. For every card you feed the box with, you get one in exchange.

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The MOODY BENCH is our neighborhood jukebox: Different stickers are attached to plenty of seats placed in a circle that we found in Don Bosco. Each has a QR code to scan and corresponds to a collaborative playlist on Spotify where you can listen and add songs. By taking a seat that suits your current mood, you can rest and feel the community feeling while listening to the Don Bosco playlists.

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