A modular, artificial landscape that mediates and responds to congregation through its topographical surface

I was interested by topographical surfaces on a large scale and how they encouraged different settlement patterns based on its ridges and valleys and also the effect of human movement and natural processes, such as erosion, on these landscapes. Beyond the surface, I was also fascinated by the phenomenon of quorum sensing, a process by which bioluminescent bacteria decide when to illuminate large swaths, how bacterial biofilms form, and how new bee and ants colony locations are decided.

Designer and Prototyper

CNC Milling, 3D Modelling, 3D Printing, Arduino

4.022 Studio: Design Techniques and Technologies
Taught in Fall 2018 by Axel Kilian and Zain Karsan
The Question
What relationships are there between social behavior and landscape? I found four key topics to then explore further through the creation of modular floor tiles.
  • Topography
  • Congregation
  • Response
  • Movement
I explored the combinatorial potential of the tiles so that they could potentially create infinite assortments of landscapes in my initial sketches.  It was important that distinct topographical ridges and bowls could be generated with each assortment, so I designed a set number of profile curves which could be recombined in that manner.
Final Prototype
In my final prototype, I decided on a set of different sensors, for tracking the presence of people congregating, to form the quorum. Each congregation area would need to reach a quorum of these "voices" (photocells, force sensors, and audio sensors) chiming in to activate its response in the form of buzzing vibration and glowing LEDs. The activated surface then encourages or discourages the congregation of people on top of the surface to either migrate or attract new members to contribute to the quorum.