Historically, public parks and urban infrastructures have generated sites of public well-being. Meanwhile, evolving media and data communications have transformed populations into subjects of public health messaging. Given the emerging realities of climate change, how might public data and public space converge to create new forms of discourse and participation on issues of human and environmental health?
“The Long Now” was an applied design research project that synthesized public data and public space into a mixed reality experience on health in a changing climate. An outdoor installation was produced for public exhibition and engagement. The installation was comprised of two experiences: one physical and one digital. A mini-park integrated with full spectrum lighting, as used to combat Seasonal Affect Disorder, and underground heating elements was designed to offset the decrease in nourishing sunlight in fall and extend the growing season of grasses used by the public for gathering. The digital experience was comprised of local, regional, and global data on changing environmental conditions in different temporal phases, presented as an Augmented Reality (AR) experience tied to the physical site.
The project was initially installed in the city of Columbus, Indiana (USA), from 24 August–8 December, 2019, as part of the exhibition “Good Design and the Community.” This exhibition was part of a biannual exhibition on civic architecture, design, and the arts, titled Exhibit Columbus. The site was the front lawn of the First Christian Church, designed by architect Eliel Saarinen and built in 1942.
Sean Lally (architect) and Matthew Wizinsky (designer) were recipients of a 2019 Exhibit Columbus University Design Research Fellowship that supported this project. Adetokunbo Ayoade was the Augmented Reality developer.