July 15, 2016

Unity Culture Club: On Your Radar – 150716

Squirtle, Charmander and Bulbasaur. Mean anything to you? If not, then you must have had what they call a ‘wholesome’ childhood– but fear not, soon enough they will do with the arrival of the new Pokémon Go mobile game. Released yesterday in the UK, the game is set to change the future. Really.

In just a week, Pokémon Go has become the most downloaded and top-grossing app on Android and iOS in the US. The freemium game blends your smartphone’s GPS and camera to bring Pikachu into the real world in real time via augmented reality.

Although AR video games are nothing new, we’ve been inspired by how this mobile game – unlike others that facilitate a more indoor sedentary lifestyle – will lead people outdoors to explore the real world and change how we interact with it.  And it’s not only augmenting perspectives, but changing views and our perception of how things should be experienced.

So whether you’re capturing imaginary Pokémon or just sitting in the (also imaginary) sun, in this week’s OYR we are looking at new, playful ways to experience the outside world. It is summer, after all.

1. THE HANDLEBARDS

Theatre offers a sense of escapism, immersion and a surreal environment created by a mixture of our imagination and the scene in front of our eyes. Inspired by its sense of adventure and outdoor history, the HandleBards – a troupe of cycling actors (yes, you read that right) –  aim to bring theatre back to its outside origins through performing Shakespeare plays across the globe.

So far they’ve cycled 6006 miles, visited 12 countries and are probably a bit saddle-sore. Currently performing Romeo & Juliet, Richard |||, The Taming of the Shrew and much Ado About Nothing, their project encapsulates how the outdoors is about adventure – there to be explored in new ways.

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2. AMAZON TREE HOUSE

Tech companies are already well known for their unusual work places (just think of Google’s sleep pods, bowling alleys, and unlimited free food) – but Amazon is taking this even further with its current plans for its Seattle campus.

Transforming a new space downtown, the retail giant is building a series of giant spheres for its employees away from its main headquarters. Due to open in 2018, it looks to bring the outdoors inside, with the group of “high-tech greenhouses” offering employees the chance to escape to nature during the day – including turning tree houses into meeting rooms and creating lush plant conservatories.

The design will encourage workers to get out of the office and walk through tree canopies, which can, according to a 2015 Harvard University study, improve cognitive, physical and psychological ability and can leave us feeling calmer.

It’s a brilliant way of literally transforming a work environment – after all, who wouldn’t want to fulfil the childhood desire of being in a treehouse? While the greenhouse will only be open to Amazon employees, it may open to the public at a later date. We think it’s a good time to start tweeting now to get our own in London…

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3. PLATFORM AT SITE GALLERY

Speaking of lessons from nature, we’re looking to Sheffield’s Site Gallery this week for insights into reconnecting with the outdoors.

The Gallery’s Platform is a unique artistic development programme, which gives the gallery over to an artist to make new work in public. The current platform is run by artists Anna Chrystal Stephens and Glen Stoker, who are using their fieldwork experience to question the fundamentals of life (food, shelter, community) and create new connections with the land.

Demonstrating that the Gallery is not just a space to be confined indoors, their residency transforms it into a library, out-door training centre and studio. By using walks, hands on workshops and a found-food event to try to connect city communities with alternative approaches to living based on the natural world, it’s conducted in an artistic, playful way.

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4. BIG PAVILION

Not just big, huge. The Bjarke Ingels Group – the same that created the Serpentine Gallery’s current pavilion – has created another playful structure that transforms its surroundings; echoing previous installations that alter the public’s perception of space, such as its concave wooden maze at the National Building Museum in Washington DC.

This time, an inflatable pavilion has been commissioned for this year’s edition of the annual music festival in Roskilde, Denmark. Tapping into childhood memories, the bubble-like canopy is apparently designed to remind visitors of their experiences of bouncy castles. According to Jakob Lange, a partner at BIG’s Copenhagen office, “the idea of using a bouncy castle came about because one can create any kind of structure with this type of material.”

Fitted with colour-changing LED lights, the structure regularly changes its appearance and is a beautiful addition to the outdoor space – we’re looking forward to seeing how it looks on its tour of other environments, including Charlottenborg Palace, and ARoS, Denmark’s oldest public art museum.

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5. THE RHÔNE TOUCH

Immersing yourself in wine? We’ve all done that, but a new pop-up wine bar is now inviting visitors to explore the world of wine in an entirely new way – allowing visitors to interact with the essence of a vineyard through art.

Created by the Côtes du Rhône brand in partnership with the College of Communication at UAL Central Saint Martins, the immersive experience gives audiences the opportunity to go beyond just the taste of wine.

The installations at the sensuous, wine-inspired art exhibition can be seen, smelt, touched, and heard – visitors will even be able to climb inside one of them. Once you’ve had your fill indoors, head outside to their terrace burger grill for some delicious summer dining.

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6. JOIN THE DOTS ON... REAL-TIME MARKETING

We’ve talked real world and now we’re going to talk real-time. Real-time marketing, that is.

Consumers now expect brands to act quickly and change as often as they, their habits and their preferences do. So it’s a coveted art to be able to deliver a message in a constantly changing landscape.

Yes, it’s time for another of our bite-sized breakfast events talking about how brands can embrace real-time marketing to be reactive and timely, whilst remaining true to your values – hearing from some experts who have honed this skill.

And yes, it may be inside – but don’t worry, we can all go outside on a Pokémon quest after. Gotta catch ‘em all, right?

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