The Octopus Garden
The Octopus Garden is a community garden located in Pittsburgh's Friendship neighborhood. It is a place where neighbors can grow plants, harvest foods, share recipes, and gather to enjoy the outdoors. By transforming a community garden into a creative canvas, kids can learn about where their foods come from, while engaging in the making art. Through this project, our team discover an opportunity to add value in the way in which people connect with one another in their surroundings throughout the day.
Exploring the Garden
Before I started the project, I visited the garden and explored it a while. One of the most charming features of the garden is Octavia, a mosaic octopus sculpture in the center of the garden that welcomes its neighbors as they pass by. She was donated by local artists Lauren Jean McLaughlin and Bob Ziller. Once Octavia arrived the garden and surrounding area was magically transformed. A simple act like gardening is truly a rich activity, but when combined with art suddenly new possibilities emerge and take shape.
Besides Octavia, the garden has several attractive installments that make people curious about it. All installments are designed to actively interact with children and they are well harmonized with the environment. Because of the season, the garden seems to be inactive by the time when I visited. It looks like abandoned and is only used during spring and summer season.
Since the garden is create in a private property, it is hard to find. Some interesting signs are installed near the garden, interacting with local people and visitors.
After exploring the site, our team has a topic of "making garden more lively in winter season" and each one sketched ideas. I came up with the ideas of physical objects that children can do interesting interactions during the winter time when there are no plants on pots.
My first idea is installing physical, interactive flowers that are paired with a xylophone. Because it is impossible to do gardening during the winter, the garden may suggest alternative "fake flower" gardening activities using physical objects. As visitors play the xylophone, the flowers react the sound and bloom themselves.
Another idea is creating an Augmented Reality magnifier that can see the Social Network page of plants. By looking at the plant pots through the magnifier, visitors can see the time left to bloom, basic information of the plant and the hologram image below surface. This has more educational purpose, as it gives the information about gardening; children will keep having interests in the plants.
After exploring the site, our team has a topic of "making garden more lively in winter season" and each one sketched ideas. I came up with the ideas of physical objects that children can do interesting interactions during the winter time when there are no plants on pots. Based on the purpose of The Octopus Garden, we decided to make educational game for children and synthesized each one's idea. Finally, we got the concept as 'Virtual farming game before summer season'; children choose a vegetable they want to plant and play the farming game during the winter. They learn about gardening while growing their virtual plant and they should regularly visit the garden for taking care of it.
Each members sketched rough wireframes for augmented reality and mobile app UIs. I came up with the idea of connecting real space and virtual plant.