While architectural forms are frequently fixed in space, new technology allows us to push and pull at the seams of our physical surroundings, shaping our conscious interactions and unconscious perceptions. Successful responsive environments meet the needs of their inhabitants through the quiet integration of this technology—sensors and audiovisual displays recede into the periphery, enabling experiences that become a meaningful part of the everyday flow of a place rather than an interruption of it. By embedding technology in the background of our daily pathways, we have a great opportunity to transform spaces and the people within them, inspiring new ideas and connecting people to each other.
SapientNitro’s new Toronto office is designed to be a hub of innovation that empowers and advances creativity and collaboration. In keeping with this theme, we created a unique interactive installation for the open staircase at the heart of the workspace, an experience that showcases the daily creative activity at SapientNitro and the energy of the vibrant surrounding city.
Our concept, Drops, is a sensory LED display that spans the three-story stairwell and acts as a conduit for collaboration and communication across the floors and disciplines. The installation is equal parts emotional architecture and responsive environment: individual employees make their mark on the wall simply by going about their daily routines in the office. As employees scan their ID badges at the different office entries, digital ripples appear, propagate, expand, and dissolve on a slowly shifting colorscape, visualizing the occupancy of the office. These animations are in turn shaped by forces external to the space. Wind speed and wind direction measured from local weather reports in Toronto change the shape and intensity of forms as they evolve on the wall.
RFID readers in front of the canvas on each floor also invite visitors to make their own mark more directly. These immediate activations create a channel of communication across the office community on different floors—if enough events are triggered within a predefined interval, the entire virtual world shifts and blooms before fading slowly back to its resting state.
But the current iteration of the wall is just a starting point. It is designed to evolve beyond our initial ideas, acting as a flexible and open canvas for innovation and collaborative expression. The platform combines clear documentation with a well-defined programming interface to make it easy for developers to build new experiences for the wall. The separation of the visualization engine and the input sources that drive the wall and the development of a clear communication protocol were crucial steps toward enabling further experimentation and extension of the wall’s functionality. The flexible inputs can be used to modulate the parameters of the visualization to reveal new stories within the space.
We have been floored to see how the Toronto team has quickly embraced this platform and made it their own. Their passion to experiment and connect in this new environment is a testament to the power of carefully considered integration of media and architecture and a glimpse into the future of collaborative workspaces.
– Chris Carlson, Senior Technologist & Adi Marom, Experience Design Lead