#thebestcitythatneverhappened explores the potential of new technologies to open up participatory design to the public in new ways, heavily inspired by digital culture and gamification. In our proposal for the Serpentine ‘Augmented Architecture’ competition, we imagined an augmented reality installation that would allow visitors to build their own virtual interventions in a digital overlay on the site in Hyde Park, London. We proposed that by using a toolset of blocks, the visitors would be able to create interventions and structures in the digital layer that would develop over the course of the installation into a collective virtual city.
The installation creates a filter over the existing space, enhanced by the ideas of the visitors who would be able to ‘build their own (3D) city’. Over time the space would be filled with blocks, avatars and climatic features, components designed by Xcessive Aesthetics but orchestrated by the public.
Our design was a framework rather than a detailed proposal, handing over agency to the users who will experience it and bringing digital design tools into the augmented physical space of the Park.
A smartphone is the only tool required to be an active agent in the creation of #thebestcitythatneverhappened. The architectural blocks and avatars designed to be used by the public were influenced by events in Pop-culture and the aesthetics were inspired by popular social media platforms and filters. The project is a critique of the paradoxes of social media culture, exploring the contradictory parallel existences of virtual and physical space, marketing and reality.