Our Place in Space
STUDIO / DESIGNER
National Museums NI
Queen’s University Belfast
NI Science Festival
Jeffers & Sons
Urban Scalke Interventions
University of Cambridge
Live Music Now
Design Challenge and Design Ideas
Big Motive was engaged as design partner in a creative consortium to create Our Place in Space – an astonishing journey through our solar system, recreated as an 8.5km sculpture trail exploring what it means to live on Earth. Big Motive worked with creative partners lead by Nerve Centre in Derry and acclaimed artist and illustrator, Oliver Jeffers, to design an augmented reality app and website for the project. OPIS is one of 10 awe-inspiring ideas within UNBOXED 2022 – a UK-wide festival celebrating STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths).
Big Motive’s challenge was to harness AR technology to enhance the trail, making it accessible to people everywhere. The project’s central idea is that although the world is made of borders that separate us – when we zoom out into space, divisions suddenly seem petty and insignificant. OPIS is about experiencing this perspective with our feet still on the ground.
How the brief was fulfilled
The creative solution is a combination of scale models of the planets; an interactive trail walk; and an AR app that adds an additional layer of audio and animated content.
For every planetary sculpture, we considered what it would look like, sound like and what would the user learn? Our challenge was to enhance the trail’s physical sculptures as well as create an immersive experience that could be accessed anywhere in the world. In order to understand, scrutinise and iterate each of the planetary sculptures, we started by describing a set of outcomes that we wanted users to experience. We then worked backwards to define the steps of the journey to achieving these goals.
To create a truly accessible experience, we needed to make Our Place in Space available to access from home. For some people, walking 10km isn’t an option, so we had to design a solution that could replicate as much of the solar system walking trail, in the comfort of your living room. To help orientate users when first launching the app, we included a short film to introduce the concept along with a ‘How it Works’ screen. User testing informed us that these introductions are often skipped, so we also provided visual prompts to remind users of their next steps.
We designed the Our Place in Space experience in an episodic content structure that serves as a set of distinct micro experiences. These ‘episodes’ are carefully placed throughout the 10km trail, with moments of valuable interaction happening between user and app. Whilst these interactions are synchronised with users’ proximity to the trail sculptures, the design team was sure to allow time for users to put their device away and appreciate the vast distances between each planet.
The OPIS experience lets users see how far they‘ve travelled, learn facts about space, add their own star to the Universe and meet a few of Oliver Jeffer’s characters exploring the solar system too. The experience also includes a cosmic view on conflict, looking back in time at the theme of ‘Us and Them’ throughout human history.
One of the few truly delightful and whimsical (while educational) entries, fulfils its purpose, and does not require signup/login!"