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Creating an Interactive Landmark for the Amstel Campus


Steven Kok
Ankit Daftery

Commissioner: Bureau Nieuwbouw


For the Amstel Campus we\'re researching the possibilities of embedding interactive elements in the facades of the buildings and see how we can use these interactive elements to create a landmark for the campus.

Time to get the hands dirty

Time for more updates !

So we have been on the search for printers to print our awesome posters, and we’ve found them. One thing less to worry about, phew !

We have been working hard getting all the requirements, documents, permissions etc. in place to get the power supply for the Gemaal ready, and it’s progressed quite a bit now.

We’ve identified on a great way (and spot) to display the title letters and Logo for the HvA on the Gemaal building (thanks to the HvA Huisstyle team for all the help !). We have also identified three posters that will be used for the inaugral round of the Gemaal.

The last month saw quite a few visits from me to De Inventeers (in Leiden), where we worked on getting the electronics and programming for it ready. Lots of work, and lots happening there.


All of this came together over three days, with the physical wooden grid and other fixtures being setup, with the cement cast for the tiles in place, and with the installation of the tiles in them. To add to it, we had a round of “Social cleaning” which involved nearly 8 people tugging and pulling at posters stuck over 10 years to take them off the wall and clean up the place. We also had a little bit of fun painting our installation with the colors we had chosen ( special thanks go to Marco van Hout for all his advice and help painting ! )


A lot is ready, though a fair amount of work still needs to be put in for it to be made “production ready”, so to speak. Here are some pictures below 😉

Gemaal5 Gemaal


Implementation is everything. We are doing everything.

The vacations have begun, and things might be going slow, but not for us !
There’s a lot to do, and we’re having the time of our lives doing it.

The finished images from the photoshoot have come in, and we had a tough time deciding which one was the best, thanks to some great shots and visual wizardry from Willeke. However, the final image has been decided, one that our assigners and we both finally agreed on was the best. This image goes on the large canvas side of the Gemaal, facing the bridge, so watch out for a really cool visual when you drive in over the bridge to Wibautstraat !


The other side of the Gemaal is something that we have been ideating on with our designer, Timothy Fokker. This side involves the construction of a wooden grid that incorporates the visual style of the HvA, and is creative and refreshing, symbolising the talent and the work of HvA students and professionals.     We are ideating on the visual aspects of the design, trying at the same time to cover up the ugly building below while at the same time leaving enough space to show the intervention made.

We have also been reaching out to various domains and minors of the HvA to invite their participation in the posters for the project. We believe that it will be great exposure for the work coming out of them, and will provide a holistic view of the HvA education.

Another thing that has been high on our priority list is getting the power supply to the building in place. The Gemaal, as some of you might know, is lying disused, and has no working electric connection. The concept chosen for the Gemaal involves lighting and some interactive electronics, so it is quite necessary for the power supply to be ready before the project can be completely “switched on”.

Some cool electronics is also being involved, and we are looking at a very very long length of LED strips that we want running along the poster side of the Gemaal. We can’t wait to get our hands on it, I am already excited at the thought of programming that beautiful beast !

To summarise it :  We are working on IMPLEMENTATION, people. That’s already an exciting (very busy) stage, and we are getting all the materials, people, content and design in place ! Hang on for our next update !

Planning the project and paddling furiously underneath

Here’s another update from us !

We have the plans and implementation details finalised and approved. Thanks to Dirk Vroegindeweij from Studio V for the technical drawings that helped us move forward with this.

We will be partnering with Dok Constructie and De Inventeers to realise our project. The installation will include a HvA grid made of wood and metal-work, with three poster boards to display the student projects. There will be a line of LED strips running around the front of the building, playfully seeking attention from the passers-by. Three tiles in front of the posters will also flash playfully with light, inviting pedestrians to come stand on them and give feedback for the student project poster in front of them. These “Likes” will be recorded on a counter, to encourage a sense of competition, and also to encourage people to come forward and give their opinion. The action of voting will trigger flash animations of the LEDs around, as well as the tiles. This is to give visual feedback as well as to add a fun element to the project.

We are working furiously behind the scenes to get the dates aligned, the content ready, the logistics set up. There’s a lot to do, and the vacations are looming high on us, but we hope to cover a fair amount of ground and have the installation up and ready very very soon !

We also had a great time with our first photo-shoot for the HvA communication canvas, here’s a glimpse


Keep watching !

Working out the final concept

Hi there!

It’s been a road with twists and turns over here. Ideas have been thought up, changed, reverted, rearanged  and shuffled on a daily basis. The concept is pretty solid now, and the design is being worked on. Curious? Artist impressions will follow very soon. Thijs Kok has been working on drawings for us, which we will use to pitch our concept and to show you what we are up to.

We are now getting in contact with parties that can help us realize our concept and implement the final product. We have been talking with The Inventeers for example, a company that we will be working together with to create the technical/electronical part of the concept. With the help of Marco Cops we are finding out what materials to use and how to create something durable and – we are in the Netherlands after all – hufterproof!

Here is a little sneak preview of a paper and post-it beta version of our concept. Give it up for analogue techniques!

Concept Presentation

After about a hundred ideas (funky, practical, stupid, far-fetched, you name it ! ) that arose out of multiple Skype and online drawing board sessions, we presented some of those ideas consolidated into three concepts. Here’s a brief description of each of them

1. Promo space

The space was proposed to be turned into an event / promotion space / lounge for the students. This could transform the space into an area where the students could relax, socialize as well as reserve it to conduct events. Student projects often need space for conducting user surveys, promotion events etc. They could thus take control of the Gemaal and boost their projects, at the same time providing a lively and comfortable environment in the space around the Gemaal.

2. Street Canvas

The space was proposed to be turned into a public “canvas” that students could paint on, thus inviting the artist in students, providing a visible and not-easily available large canvas with good exposure. This allotment could be done for durations of two weeks each, so as to allow enough number of student artists exposure. This concept also envisioned portraying the receptiveness and openness of the HvA to creativity.

3. Open Air Exhibition

The walls of the Gemaal were proposed to be “themed” as a part of this project, and huge posters to be put up that displayed student projects, announcing , promoting or just describing them. These posers would be made “interactive” by allowing viewers to step on interactive “tiles” that would count the number of people stepping on them. This would not only give feedback about the reception of the project among the audience but also catch attention, involve them and add a “fun” element to it without being too distracting. This project would also easily be able to target both pedestrian as well as vehicular traffic.

It was difficult funnelling, filtering , modifying and fitting multiple ideas into these concepts, but the concepts were well worth it. They were well received, and the assigners, Bureau NieuwBouw were particularly enthusiastic about the Open Air Exhibition concept, and by the suggestion of displaying student work.

In addition, from surveys, interviews and perusing literature, we were able to draw up a list of desirable elements in public space in general and for the HvA in particular, as well as some design guidelines to be followed. These should help us in the phases to follow to make the right decisions.

The approach now is to tailor the Open Air Exhibition concept to take into account requirements of the assigners and various stakeholders, and design the implementation. Lots of work to be done, we better get moving, then !



As part of our research for the work to be carried out at the Gemaal, we started looking around for similar projects, interventions, art in public spaces and the like. If ever there was a thing called being satisfied about what you are working on, we got it ! The projects that we came across, both in the content and their sheer number, are totally mind-numbing. Here are some of the coolest ones we came across :

1. QR-adio

An interactive boombox poster where you can play and take away a tape recorded by the artist for you, how cool is that ?

Source :

2. Tape-it-up

A New York based artist uses tape to modify urban settings and alter / convey meanings of environments. Minimalistic, yet effective

Source :

3. Camouflage the Urban Ugliness

Don’t you sometimes wish a particularly ugly piece of urban furniture weren’t there, that you wouldn’t see it ? That you imagine what the street would be like if you just get rid of it ? This intervention plays with just that idea

Source :

4. Digital signposts

An intelligent signpost that knows exactly what is happening in which part of the city, and directs people towards it ? Yes, this idea definitely would like to usher in the future !

Source :

These awesome concepts and installations are but a very small number of what we came across. If these excite you and you want to talk about more, do drop a comment !

Project Amstel Campus is go !

Hello folks, Ankit Daftery here, all the way from India ! Steven Kok and me will be working at mediaLab Amsterdam for the assigners Bureau NieuwBouw on the Amstel Project, with help from our mediaLab managers Gijs Gootjes and Matthijs ten Berg.

The brief for the project is :

How can the gemaal at the corner of Wibautstraat be turned into an installation that could involve interactivity and information to convey the image of the buildings in this locality as being part of an upcoming campus that serves as common ground for students, teachers and professionals where they can meet, exchange ideas and work together ? Furthermore, how can this be done in a way so that future developments in the campus are consistent with this theme, and how can future developments be made so that there is coherence between the distinct parts of the campus ?

The first thing that comes to mind is the delightfully open-ended nature of the project brief, and the number of possibilities that could fit in. It is going to be amazing researching, brainstorming, designing and actually getting around to transforming the gemaal, and playing a role in giving an identity to the campus ! That said, designing public spaces always comes with its share of constraints, but we believe that they will only serve to help innovation 😉

We have begun the research phase, where we will be digging up all that we think will help us make this project awesome. We will keep posting progress, insights and updates as we go along.

Like someone Legendary said, Wait-for-it !!