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Cycling and light combine for interactive installation promoting activity and healthy cities

Innovative design can raise awareness of important social and environmental issues in an accessible, fun and persuasive way, according to the designers of VelO2 – an installation that illustrates air pollution through cycling and light.

In an exclusive interview with CLAD, Matthias Gmachl, creative director of London based ‘spatial laboratory’ Loop.Ph, said: “If you have a fun, humorous and lighthearted way to introduce ideas, people are generally more open to listening, particularly for challenging issues. Design is a great way of achieving that. A lot of campaigning can be negative, but we don’t consider finger wagging to be very helpful. We tried a more positive approach, through design, with VelO2.

The project draws attention to air pollution in our overcrowded cities by utilising light to "make the unseen experienceable", promoting the importance of active lifestyles and air quality in building sustainable cities.

Cyclists travel around two tracks past changing vortices of light, which visually communicate local air quality. Dynamic branching structures, reminiscent of trees and the tubular networks in our lungs, glow in different hues to represent the fluctuating data collected by advanced air quality sensors.

The installation was commissioned by Taiwanese insurance company Shin Kong Life and staged from February to early March in the country, where air pollution is a big issue and rates of lung cancer have increased by 130 per cent in the last 20 years.

"The idea was to give people something to take away from the installation,” said Gmachl, who developed the project with fellow director Rachel Wingfield. “We’ve been looking at healthy, sustainable and balanced city design for some time. We’re concerned about pollution and we want to get people on their bikes, so this was a good opportunity to bring those two things together. Thankfully, the response has been really good.”

Gmachl revealed that companies in London and Paris have shown an interest in bringing VelO2 to the cities in the near future.

Cycling  light  interactive installation  design  health  wellness  Taiwan  healthy cities  air pollution 
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Innovative design can raise awareness of important social and environmental issues in an accessible, fun and persuasive way, according to the designers of VelO2 – an installation that illustrates air pollution through cycling and light. In an exclusive interview with CLAD, Matthias Gmachl, creative director of London based ‘spatial laboratory’ Loop.Ph, said: “If you have a fun, humorous and lighthearted way to introduce ideas, people are generally more open to
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The project draws attention to air pollution in our overcrowded cities by utilising light to 'make the unseen experienceable' / Loop.Ph
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Company profile: Robert D. Henry Architects + Interiors
Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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