Interactive Design: The Playful Bench

4 Feb
2011

The first interactive bench in the world invites you to play, move and experience the urban space in a new way. This Playful Bench that changes colors and patterns as you pass by, has sprung up in the middle of Copenhagen’s ‘Islands Brygge’.

The bench is situated at the newly restored urban space above the underground parking facility in Leifsgade, Island Brygge in Copenhagen. The idea for the interactive element arose when the Municipality of Copenhagen had to restore the urban space after completing a two year building process of an underground parking facility.

Copenhagen based architectural office MAPT is behind the concept and development of the bench. At nightfall it lights up like a playful and poetic element between the new playground and football pitch. The vision of an urban space which communicates has become reality in collaboration with interaction designer Sune Petersen.

“We’ve been fascinated by urban spaces that communicate with people, for a long time. As a starting point, we chose something that was already out there, the benches, and then made one of them come to life. When people walk past the interactive bench, it lights up and lures with play.” says MAPT.
‘The playful bench’ is a classic Copenhagen bench, which in this case, to give the colors and patterns a perfect background, is untreated oak instead of the traditional painted green. Through technology it is brought to life and engages in dialogue with people who pass by.

The bench has three different games one can play, for both children and adults. One game is a painting game. You paint colors on the bench without using actual paint but simply by moving your hand around on the bench. When the bench is left alone it displays the ‘paintings’ which have been made. These ‘paintings’ will also be displayed on the bench’s own Facebook profile.

The second game requires more physical activity. Each board on the bench is lit up by a flashing bar code. The faster you run past the bench the more acceleration will be displayed on each board.

The last game is primarily for adults, since it requires patience. When you sit down on the bench, you will see different light particles curiously approaching where you sit. They come closer and closer, and when they hit you they create a sea of light.

‘The playful bench’ can be explored every day when night falls, and is active daily from when twilight permits to 10 pm. The urban space where the bench can be found is situated in Leifsgade (Copenhagen, Denmark) on the stretch between Bergthoragade and Gunløgsgade.

Watch the bench in action…

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