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Street Seats

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Photo Credits: Garrick Dixon

Urban art features interactive lighting

Design Museum Boston, the city's only museum solely focused on design, launched a competition in September 2012 called Street Seats. The competition drew in architects and designers from 23 countries to design benches that improve the up-and-coming Fort Point Channel district in Boston, while remaining socially and environmentally conscious.

Out of the 173 entries, 17 benches were placed in the Fort Point Channel district for exhibit from April 2013 through October 2013. The benches themselves are attractive and fun to visit, but Susanne Seitinger, City Innovations Manager at Color Kinetics, knew that lighting would take the exhibit to the next level. Beacons were installed beside each bench, each topped with a Color Kinetics ArchiPoint iColor Powercore luminaire. The luminaires are powered via solar panels, making it easy to place them exactly where needed.

The lights go on each night from 7 pm to 11 pm, but they don't remain one color. Visitors can log onto a website or scan a QR code to access an app. They can then select a bench to learn more about its design and fabrication. They can also click on a color wheel to change the color of the light in real time. If a user tries to change the color of a beacon already in use, the app will suggest another nearby beacon to interact with.

The Color Kinetics collaboration with Street Seats is part of a responsive cities initiative, that explores the possibilities for future lighting systems to attract visitors to neighborhoods, allows retailers to portray themselves in new ways, and brings an all-around new look to cities.

"Street Seats is a platform for exploring how we can leverage networked, digital controls for future city lighting installations. We increasingly encounter interactive technologies in urban settings, especially during special events and festivals. But what do these technologies mean for everyday life in the city? With Street Seats, we've created an easy-to-access web-application for wayfinding, information and interactivity. Through citizens' direct feedback, we're learning what applications they find most engaging and meaningful," said Seitinger.
Project credits

Design Museum Boston

Derek Cascio, Sam Aquillano, and their team of volunteers

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Shawn Ford and Ted Galo


Martha Rettig and Pascal Rettig

Department of Public Works Boston

Para Jayasinghe and Fouad Hamzeh

Head of the Charles Regatta Wireless

Eric Malkowski and David Leslie

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