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Urban Spirits

Exhibition/Presentation: Medialab Prado – Interactive Media Facade (2013)­ Madrid, Spain.

Summary of the work

Urban Spirits is an urban game made with twitter, creative coding, arduino and custom designed circuits. Its aim was to explore novel ways to promote eco-friendly, creative and aggregative behavior in the context of an urban neighborhood. The game makes innovative use of smart city sensors and urban spaces, particularly interactive street furniture and a digital facade. Individual users can interact through both smartphones and physical interaction with urban furniture.

connecting cities

The project was selected by Medialab Prado to be part of a program called Solid Interfaces and Urban Games: Digital Games in the Public Spaces. It was a production workshop for the creation of urban games that use the public space as an interface.

Starting point of the project

The starting point was the exploration of creative and interactive ways of visualizing the small gestures with positive impact that occur continuously in a neighborhood but which hide in the lives of individuals and are often not perceived. The challenge was to offer the neighborhood a tool that would allow them to shape and visualise their positive habits, increasing the sense of belonging and community engagement.

Urban game and storytelling

The story and the game itself are based on the metaphor of the “Urban Spirits”. The purpose of the game is to tame the little spirits through the interaction with the urban surrounding. Each interaction is a little challenge­ exercise aimed to fortify the participants sense of social community involvement, creativity and conscious eco­logic behaviours.

An artistic experiment with the aim of:

Exploring new hybrid forms of interaction and community engagement between real and virtual spaces, between physical and digital interfaces, and between multimedia content and direct participation.

Promoting creative behaviors in urban environments exploring new forms of street art, augmented architecture and ways of fruition of artistic contents.

Creating new connections and modalities of participation and socialization among the residents of an urban neighborhood.
Raise awareness on urban pollution and promote sustainable behavior to limit it.

Photo: testing the digital facade.

Photo: testing sensors for the interactive furniture.


Gianmarco Zaccaria

Role: Interactive Media Artist / Maker

Alberto Massa

Role: IT Engineer / Coder 

Barbara Fiume

Role: Graphic designer / Digital Illustrator 

Process and working experience

It was very exciting for us to have the opportunity to work on a project that nestled among the architectural elements of the district, encouraging people to develop a more conscious and ecologic behaviour through a fun activity, such as playing a game. Our expectations were focused on the realisation of a functional prototype. More than that, we were excited to have had the possibility of proving our skills, challenging ourselves from a technical and social point of view, trying to find a solutions on how to blend virtual and urban spaces. We loved working in such an innovative and technologically advanced space such as MediaLab Prado, collaborating with a professional and expert team of artists, designers and technologists.

Mentors and collaborators

Many thanks to Javier Villarroel (Creative Coding, Physical Computing), Clara Ceita (Video, Animation), Nicolas Bustos Torrente (Web Design, Handcrafting) and their invaluable help in developing the prototype. Many Thanks also to the Medialab’s supervisors Gorka Cortázar, Guillermo Casado, Sergio Galán for their helpful and wise advices and also for the professional vision and passion that you all transmit in doing your job. Many thanks to Nerea Calvillo and her valuable advices. Finally many thanks to Monica Cachafeiro and the Medialab staff for the support and the great experience. Thank you all for the wonderful time spent together.


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