London 2036 was an interactive installation featured in the London Situation Room at the heart of the Big Bang Data exhibition at Somerset House. The exhibition ran from 3rd December 2015 until 20th March 2016.
We started with the question of how do you explain urban data modelling to the general public? We decided that we wanted to take this intangible topic and turn it into a compelling interactive experience, based around a game.
Along with helping people understand data modelling, we wanted to communicate some of the real challenges that cities face. To do this we asked the public to take control of the future of London by answering rapid fire questions based on real decisions that city leaders, planners, and infrastructure providers need to make.
The game was designed to be less straightforward that it seemed, unveiling hidden preferences, teaching people about the complexity of cities and encouraging them to try again to build a different London 2036.
London 2036 was well received and had a high completion rate from those who played the installation.
I was heavily involved in the development of London 2036, providing technical research in Unity3D, then working with the Data Science team carrying out research into the data available, identifying possible stories and building data models that underpinned the game.
I then worked on backend-development using Django and wrote the game calculator class in Python. I was responsible for the balancing of the game weighting to ensure the game design fed into the models in a sensible way and the results were engaging.
In addition, I was Scrum Master for the duration of the project and supported the production process using Agile methodologies.
Company: Future Cities Catapult
Role: Data Science, Development, Research, Game Design
Development – Tim Brooke, Babak Hatamian, Indira Knight, Kay Lovelace
Production – Darren Pangbourne, Tom Leaver
Design – Alan Waldock, Panja Gobel, Christele Tal, Laura Sellman
Data Science and Research – Adam Rey, Gyorgyi Galik, Stephanie Bricker, Deodato Tapate
3D Model Development – Gareth Simons, Lyzette Zeno
Copywriter – Lee
Fabrication – ONN Studio
Client: Somerset House, London
Big Bang Data
Big Bang Data at Somerset House was the UK’s first major exhibition looking at the transformative power of data.
Every day we generate vast amounts of data, the exhibition explored how this explosion in data creation impacts us socially, culturally and politically.
London Situation Room
At the heart of the exhibition sat the London Situation Room, looking at the data Londoners generate on a daily basis. This part the exhibition explored the stories we can tell from London based data, and how it can be used to make predictions about the future of the city.
Taking the form of a retro 1940s-style control room, the London 2036 installation featured three independent consoles containing the game, which was a quick-fire quiz with questions around civic problems, policies and personal preferences.
Upon completion you were presented with how these choices might impact housing, resources and the environmental state of the city in 2036.
Above the consoles hung a large projection screen which featured the aggregated results of everyone’s answers from that day.
The first screen that welcomes you to the console, posing the challenge about housing all the population in 2036.
One of the timed questions the player needs to answer.
There were a variety of question types, which corresponded to a different set of buttons, dials or sliders on the console unit. We decided against using touch screen and instead opted for an analogue interaction as this aesthetic added to the weight of your decisions.
These results are all related to your choices affect land-use and residential property types, which in turn affects the amount of housing available for your population in 2036.
Here you are presented with other impacts based around your preferences related to water resources, electricity consumption and transport.
A Gameplay Session
Here’s Katie, my sister, playing London 2036 for the first time. She’s been my secret tester on many of my other projects, but for this one she only got the opportunity to try the game when it had been in-situ for a month.
Play London 2036
Even though the Big Bang Data exhibition is over, there is still a playable version of the game installed in the exhibition space of the Urban Innovation Centre, which the home of Future Cities Catapult.
A new form factor was designed by Niklas Hageman and ONN Studio to fit in with the existing exhibition aesthetic. Further credits include Kay Lovelace for development and Tom Leaver as producer.