The Greenspace Project

1st Place Winner in York University's 2022 DESNathon, a 12-hour overnight design competition hosted by the Design Students' Association and sponsored by Rally Rally x Brightweb.

Technology, for better or worse?

If we imagine a future where nature and humans are able to effectively co-exist and prosper in the same landscape, what role does technology play in allowing us to learn about, explore, and appreciate the world around us?

Introducing Greenspace, a series of interactive installations around Toronto, allowing users to explore and learn about the natural roots of their city.

A Greenspace installation in the city

Most city-dwellers have become accustomed to the urban landscape. Rarely do we stop to understand our unique position in time and the power we hold as humans.

With Greenspace, we set out to challenge this.

For this project, we envisioned units resembling mall kiosks placed at unique locations throughout Toronto. These installations aim to educate and inform the public about the city and their role within it.

The eco-brutalist design combines the concrete urban design of the city with natural accents, representing a callback to the area before industrialization.

Each device is powered by a solar panel. This continues our theme of sustainability and provides more flexibility in where these installations can be placed.

A solar panel on top of Greenspace installation

Thinking with Portals

When idle, Greenspace displays the way our city used to be. A video background animates in sync with the current time and weather, painting an accurate representation of the past.

Every display is different, showing each location's unique environment.

A lakeside Greenspace installation at The Toronto Harbourfront
A lakeside installation at The Toronto Harbourfront

When an individual taps the display, they're presented with a short land acknowledgement. We decided on a full-height window rather than an alert, making this an integral part of the experience.

From there, users are presented with a map of their surroundings. You can view native plant and animal species in the city, or explore the indigenous territories that once defined the now-urban city.

Interactions primarily take place within the bottom third of the display, ensuring accessibility for people of all heights and those in wheelchairs or other mobility devices.

In contemporary natural spaces like parks, users are educated on indigenous plant and wildlife species, their interactions with invasive species, and their coexistence within natural ecosystems. Users can explore each native species to learn about their indigeneity and growing conditions.

After learning about a plant species, users can choose to grow their own. Greenspace installations dispense free seeds in an effort to strengthen their presence in urban environments.

A Greenspace installation dispensing a packet of seeds
Users can dispense a packet of seeds after learning about a native plant species

Each species is native to southern Ontario, making Greenspace a unique way for people to directly impact their environments.

A small, branded envelope of bee balm seeds

The Greenspace Project is an innovative and interactive approach to awareness of Toronto's natural roots. It challenges industrialism through education, illustrating how technology can be used to enhance our understanding and appreciation of the natural world.