“Digital Cloud” landmark proposed for London 2012 Olympics

November 16, 2009

Team of leading architects and engineers reveals plans for floating observation deck with real-time digital display.

An international team of architects, artists and engineers has designed a “digital cloud” that would float above the Olympic site in London, as part of a competition to build a tourist attraction in the centre of Olympic Park, initiated by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Called ‘the Cloud’, the proposal is for a series of connected bubbles, the exterior surfaces of which would be used to broadcast forecasts, events, timetables and footage, creating a three-dimensional display fed by real time information. The bubbles would act as an observation deck, sitting atop a central array of columns that also provide access to the bubbles above.

Professor Carlo Ratti, one of the project leaders, explained: “our main idea is to apply to architecture some of the distributed processes that are currently revolutionising the digital world. For instance, we would like the cloud to become a symbol of global ownership built through a bottom up fundraising effort.”

Dan Hill, from ["cityofsound":] and the Senior Consultant for the Arup Sydney team, said: “The Cloud develops our ongoing interest in the idea of the ‘civic scale smart meter’, acting as a real-time feedback loop on collective urban activity.”

In addition to the focus on digital innovation, the team envisages a set of energy-harvesting ramps and stairs located within the columns, with each visitor contributing to a collective effort to keep the lamp lit. People around the world who couldn’t visit the Cloud would be able to contribute by purchasing LED lights to help keep the lamp glowing.

The team has now launched a ["website":] to raise funds for the project. Google is providing advertising online, and they plan to use Facebook and Twitter in a global fundraising effort. The size of the Cloud will evolve based on the level of contributions received, they say. “The flexibility of the structural system will allow us to tune the size of the Cloud to the level of funding that is reached,” explained team member Walter Nicolino.

The project is a collaborative effort across a range of disciplines, The Cloud team at the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory is composed of Carlo Ratti, Assaf Biderman, Mauro Martino, E Roon Kang, working together with Walter Nicolino and Giovanni de Niederhausern. The Cloud team includes artist Tomas Saraceno, digital designer Alex Haw, lightweight-structures expert Joerg Schleich, engineering group Arup, landscape architects Agence Ter, graphic designers Studio FM and visualization experts GMJ. Advisors to the team include Umberto Eco, Marco Santambrogio, Chris Bangle, Giuliano da Empoli, Antoni Muntadas, William Mitchell, Paul Richens, Gianluca Salvatori, Caterina Ginzburg, Liza Fior and Margo Miller.

Images courtesy The CLOUD/["":]

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