The art of walking in cities

by cecile

Us humans, we walk. That’s how it is.

In cities, walking might be a trivial action, but is also an opportunity to deconstruct the way we move, rethink the relationship between our body and the space around us, reinventing our conception of public space. When we shift the barriers of our environment, this simple act of walking has the capacity to shake up our understanding of space, but also our interaction with cities and the people in them. Then the more we walk, the more the city transforms, and we walk happier.

In March 2018, the Wellesley College in Boston (one of the oldest universities on the american east coast – still for women only), invited us to give a series of workshops as part of their Concert Series. Professor Jenny Olivia Johnson hosted members of our creative team, Mouna (co-founder), Rebecca (product and environment design) and Eva (technical lead) in her class, Studies in 20th Century Music: Interactive Sound Art with Electronics.

Together with her 18 students they worked to co-design and build an interactive sound installation prototype. In this collaborative effort they envisioned what would happen when a trivial sidewalk moves, shakes, rings, sings, rises or rotates… An opportunity to continue experimenting with the art of walking, a theme we presented a few times in our projects, such as Mesa Musical Shadows.

On Saturday, March 17 at 4:00 pm, Mouna will give a talk about participative design at Wellesley College, followed by a public presentation of the students’ prototypes.

More infos about this event



More about the art of walking:

Jean Verville’s dancing golden avenue
Hamish Furton’s walking performance
Walking on water with Christo in Italy

Reimagining Public Spaces at New Cities Summit 2016

by Melissa

Written by MELISSA, FADY, and SARAH


As part of continuing work on collaboration in public spaces, we were invited along with our sister company Infinite City to host a workshop at the 2016 New Cities Summit held in Montréal. Surrounding the theme ‘The Age of Urban Tech’, the summit attracted 600 world-leading civic innovators and provided a diverse exploration in urban innovation at the hopes of empowering citizens in the thick of technology.

The challenge: urban spaces and cooperation

Can we create cooperative experiences where people dare to do something new and celebrate a collective pride of their cities? What kind of impact do these projects generate?

For our workshop ‘Reviving public spaces through cooperation’ we gathered a group of urban enthusiasts from a diverse set of backgrounds and had them imagine their own solutions for activating a public space through collaboration. Zooming in on the urban narrative of cooperation, we used The Swings as a benchmark for a project that has earned a proven track record to positively impact public spaces. We presented hard data that was generated from sensors located inside the swing seats and both soft data and evaluation criteria from an impact study we commissioned the CLUE Group to do in West Palm Beach and Detroit.


Sunshine research and ideation

Using the space as context to collectively imagine a project, we brought a group of 50 participants to Quartier des Spectacles to survey the site, the people and the stories. Former home of the city’s red light district, the area encompasses 8 public spaces with cultural programming, 80 cultural venues and 450 cultural enterprises. The site receives a large amount of foot traffic yet lacks a layer of human connection and playfulness.

Participants were split into two type of groups – site and people – to observe the space and engage with passersby. Fresh groups were then formed to brainstorm site-specific urban scenarios of cooperation based on their investigations. We also encouraged participants to create their unique set of criteria and to imagine the potential impact of their ideas.

Brainstorming highlights

Quick and dirty ideas were put forward, such as collaborative BBQs and communal food events in which members of the community take turns cooking for each other, the development of a site-specific platform between locals and tourists and greening pre-existing urban furniture and landscape in the area (made primarily of concrete). All groups agreed that bridging the physical to the digital is a compelling and much-needed exercise. All in all, the workshop proved the potential in bringing people together to collaborate on a common endeavour.


Want more?

Join us in Austin, TX for round 2 this October at SxSW ECO.

Hé, nos amis francophones! LaPresse ont parlé de l’évolution des balançoires et du concept de l’atelier. Lisez l’article ici pour en savoir plus.

Psst: Shoutout to John Marcicky, Director of Public Space Activation & Placemaking at Rock Ventures LLC (and key player in bringing The Swings to Detroit this winter) for being an excellent undercover workshop participant.


Radical Prototyping em Brasil

by Melissa

2014 took us to many amazing places, visiting project sites or giving talks and workshop in more than 29 cities over 4 continents. As the year came to a close, we headed to Brazil and amongst other things, had the chance to run a week-long workshop in Belo Horizonte.

We always work in collaboration with many – sometimes random – fields of disciplines, and as a result, it can be hard to claim an expertise. So instead, we say our expertise is prototyping: we prototype human-to-human interactions, and with time, we’ve become expert prototypers. Our latest experiments in Brazil proved that prototyping can in fact be quite extreme.

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Ateliers d’animation au Planétarium

by Pierre

Le samedi 30 novembre, de 13 à 16h, venez participer à la création de l’installation interactive permanente qui ouvrira en janvier 2014 à l’extérieur du Planétarium de Montréal.

Expérimentez différentes techniques d’animation : donnez vie à des étoiles filantes, animez la surface du soleil et mettez en orbite des planètes lumineuses !

Les images feront partie de l’installation permanente “Chorégraphies pour les humains et les étoiles” qui sera accessible tous les soirs à partir de janvier 2014 au Planétarium.

Cet atelier, ouvert aux enfants de 8 à 12 ans, viendra compléter les images déjà créées lors d’ateliers précédents avec des enfants du quartier Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. En voici un aperçu :


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To community…and beyond!

by Pierre

Remember when we announced that we’ll be working for Montreal’s brand new Planetarium? Well, that’s in progress.

Because this project will be permanent and create a new landmark in the Hochelaga Maisonneuve neighborhood, we thought it was important to involve the local community in the process. That’s why we’ve been working on a creative collaboration with kids from the area to produce the visuals to be projected on the building.

This idea led us to design a few different workshops for  the Jean-Claude Malépart community center. Over two days, we invited about 70 kids aged 8 to 11 to collaborate, using various animation techniques, and share their vision of the universe.

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We’re open. It’s Portes Ouvertes time.

by Mouna

If in Montreal on Saturday, May 4th, drop by the office between 12PM and 5PM as we open our doors and welcome everyone into our world.

The afternoon will be filled with surprises and adventures including:
– Delightful servings of Mister Jaune‘s incredibly strange food and games
– Weird prototypes on display
– The first ever “If Yes Then What” programming workshop focused entirely on getting the love of your life to say “I do”
– Behind the scenes of live installations revealed
– Lots of sing alongs to the best tunes of all times
– Everyone making and sketching big interactive things using tiny littleBits

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