Playable Spaces for Urban Places

Sensitive, responsive street furniture, housing living plants, that can disrupt the transitory relationship of visitors to an urban space. Slowing down the pace of life and persuading people to pause, investigate their environment and to breathe.


The emotive “power” of robotics can represent the layers of a codependent ecosystem in which trees are crucial. So not replacing trees but representing them in their astounding diversity via the robot - solar power, air filter, oxygen creator, irrigation, host, shelter, nutrition, sensorial stimulation and providing a means of engaging with today’s complex environmental issues whilst simultaneously discussing possibilities of technological innovation to aid environmental activism.

Playable Spaces

Our Diurnal art piece “Playable Spaces” is a 6m x 6m robotic pavilion that is reactive to the audience around it. It can sense the movement of people passing through the space and move limbs and branches to react to their presence, during the day it is reactive to local weather conditions and will measure air pollution levels and light up in reaction to these.


At night it is reactive to the audience passing through it. Audience members can affect behaviour and “game” it by working co-operatively. Light-up Benches and branches sense distance from audience members and react accordingly.

We have a lighting design made by the technical team behind Arcadia Spectacular. This generates audience-reactive lighting, which can simulate breathing and continue to transform according to how people move throughout the physical space.

Weather & pollution levels

Alternatively it can be programmed to communicate weather patterns, pollution levels or migratory patterns from elsewhere in the world. An array of influence mechanisms can be programmed according to the focus and protagonist of whatever interactive story you want to tell.


The hardware is integrated with living plants, which are intelligently selected to suit the host environment. These could be edible, scented, colourful or insect-friendly, depending on the climate conditions of a location. It’s overall ‘emotional weather’ is informed and influenced by the collective behaviour of visitors who are in attendance remotely via a digital interface.


This work is a response to the urgent need to mitigate the impact of climate disaster in an engaging and motivating way. We can programme subtle scenarios that inform and educate a greener and more sustainable society.

We are an early adopter of soft robotic technology in the creative industries. We use the soft robotic extreme low pressure air systems and our programmed behaviour to make the structure safe for humans to explore the space.

About Us

We are a creative collaboration between Ruby Soho, Designer & Maker and Joseph Wilk, Digital artist.

A female, traveller artist brought up on a council estate and an artist who experiences disability due to chronic illness when he was a student. Neither has allowed themselves or their work to be compromised by negative social bias. Ruby is a keen advocate and activist for human rights, creating fairer opportunities for people limited by socio-economic factors. In particular invisible inequalities for ‘outsider’ communities. Joseph’s creative practice deals with the social model of disability, whereby disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person's impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled.

We present a vision of the future that is gloriously humane in all its messy domestic parts with sensory, immersive and digital artwork, hybridising robotics and automation with humaneness and well-being.

The aim is to demystify emerging technologies and provide genuine public accessibility to playable urban spaces immediately. We demonstrate that harnessing this technology can allow us to influence our built environment in the near future. And thereby exist in a world that is more sensitive to our collective physical and mental well-being. This work can help influence forthcoming urban planning, by bringing visibility to the pressures on contemporary standards of living, from climate change and risks to societal, ethical and data privacy rights, that arise in the age of so -called ‘smart cities’.

We have a long-standing background in large scale, outdoor work and overarching intent to take inclusion to the heart of the design process. Our creative practice crosses the boundaries between research and real world scenarios that continually inform one another. Our intention is to adapt and evolve urban spaces for the forthcoming pedestrianisation of city spaces in the near future and the introduction of low emissions zones. We will do this by providing, responsive, playable, socially democratic spaces that allow visitors to explore an interactive story of their own influence.

We want to take the opportunity to help the reopening of public spaces with humane design and health and wellbeing at the core. Influencing our cities to be anti-polluting and clean breathing. The wider scope is innovating the way in which we discuss the interplay between people and new technologies, both in terms of physical spaces and in terms of wider digital community building.

Supported by: Bath Spa University and the South West Creative Technology Network
Partners: Dr Molly Claypool, Bartlett School of Automated Architecture, Dr Annette Blanchette, Plymouth Universities IDaT program

Available to hire from Sept 2020

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