Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Public picks favourite forgotten space

Its innovative approach to lighting a dark alleyway impressed competition judges and now the winning entry for Forgotten Spaces 2011: Sheffield has won over the general public too.

Guiding Lights by Chris Paterson, which brings to life Frog Walk, a poorly lit pedestrian pathway in Sheffield, with animated 'avatars' and an LED screen, came out on top in a 'people's choice' vote to find the public's favourite design.

His design beat off stiff competition from the 18 other shortlisted entries to come top of an online poll. Votes were also cast by attendees to the competition winners' event in September.

Chris, who is an architecture graduate of Sheffield Hallam, chose the site after several friends expressed their trepidation at using the pathway, between Stalker Lees Road (off Ecclesall Road) and Sharrow in Sheffield, at night.

Map of illuminated Frog Walk


His proposal uses innovative smartphone technology to magically light the path with a LED screen. It interacts with travellers at night, using motion sensors to track their movements and generating bright colourful silhouettes, which escort them.

And a smartphone app can be used to choose and customise avatars, which signal when other people are approaching to reassure lone travellers. The idea for the avatars was inspired by Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.

Visualisation of avatars acompanying walkers at night

Chris, 30, who lives in Firth Park in Sheffield but is originally from Holland, said: "I'm really pleased the general public has responded so positively to my design. I've had loads of fantastic feedback from people who have also felt unsafe using the alleyway at night and it would be amazing if some changes could occur in the area as a result of my design's success in this competition."

And now Sheffield Hallam University is keen to start a city-wide dialogue about how the shortlisted ideas could be turned into real-life projects.

John Palmer, director of communications and public affairs at Sheffield Hallam, said: "It would be great to think we can get a forum going where people can come together to discuss some of these potentially exciting projects, with the aim of turning at least one of them into reality.

"It would provide a fitting climax to the Forgotten Spaces 2011: Sheffield project and create a lasting tribute to a campaign that has engaged the whole community."

Ideas competition Forgotten Spaces 2011: Sheffield, run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Yorkshire and Sheffield Hallam University, encouraged architects, designers and artists to come up with innovative ideas that found new uses for the region's 'forgotten spaces'. The project was sponsored by British Land, owners of Meadowhall; Creative Sheffield; Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and developers and engineers Buro Happold.

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