Imagineers of Valby
There are a lot of interesting things happen in the Kulturhus (Danish for “culture house”) in Valby: people can learn, make and express through individual and group activities. We observed that people occasionally visiting cannot usually see what is going on in the building, and regular visitors are often neither aware of what is done by people they share this building with.
The Kulturhus has very distinct activities happening on the different floors, which makes the building appear to operate as individual silos. Our aim was to make the building more transparent and build a service that moves people’s experiences in the Kulturhus from their heads and hands into sight for all to see. We wanted active users to share and be inspired by what happens in ‘their’ Kulturhus, while giving casual visitors a taste and awareness of what the place has to offer.
Instead of going through a structured design process, we went for a highly embedded approach. For three weeks, we created little interventions in the space. We made signs in the hallway grouping the common activities; we installed live calendars on the floors to tell about activities happening on other floors; we acted as though we were a documentation service, being the automated camera and transferring data by hand; we made the staircase interactive by changing displayed information based on the step people stood on. Successful or not, all experiments informed us about the kind of overarching service. For example, it showed the central hallway had great potential and, giving the right triggers, could make people treat it as a place to get informed and share activities they have had before. Also, it revealed that the exact placement of triggers in the space was very important to whether people responded to them or not. While the stairs were very effective, the poster area was less so.
Our final deliverable was a video documenting some of our most interesting interventions. By showing both our prototypes as well as the people interacting with them, we hope to inspire the Kulturhus Valby (and the other services related to them) to think about new ways to engage regular and new visitors with the rich and valuable content that these places offer. While the video is only a part of this entire system, it shows the potential behind the core value of the experience-sharing service.
Finally, we were pleased to hear that both the stair tiles and the live documentation experiment were missed by people who revisited after we left. We feel this is confirms that some of these prototypes—no matter how rough—offer value to the Kulturhus visitors, and point to services worth developing.