Activate the park!

First-year interaction design students at the Ontario College of Art and Design have been charged with the task of “Activating the Park.” Nestled underneath architect Will Alsop’s now-famous “tabletop” is Butterfield Park, a new and beautiful urban park, but one people don’t linger in — it’s a space to pass through, not stop and reflect on the space or interact with others. The students have created15 interactive public space projects to be displayed in Butterfield Park under the tabletop at 100 McCaul Street in Toronto on March 30, 2006, from 3:00pm-6:00pm.

Each of 15 classes has created a different dynamic environment, and the projects include:

interactive graffiti walls
communal music making
radio-controlled homage to Pimp My Ride
human statues
a food fight
a peepshow in the park
a piata in the park
paint hockey
giant movable cubes
a Toronto memory map
a race with a “randomizer”
giant toys
and more

The entire park is the canvas, and passersby are the subjects. With the recent interest Toronto’s public spaces, these student projects represent what happens when young people look at our city’s communal spaces and say “How can we engage people there?”

Interaction design is a sub-discipline of design which examines the role of embedded behaviors and intelligence in physical and virtual spaces as well as the convergence of physical and digital products. Sometimes referred to by the acronyms “IxD” or “iD,” interaction design has recently developed as a field of study in a growing number of universities throughout the world. Interactive Design is concerned with a user, customer, audience, or participant’s experience with a designed object.