Microsoft's HQ in Redmond, Washington is showing it's signs of age. Gensler architecture partnered with Digital Kitchen to reimagine these dated interior spaces. Working around a theme of "Nature meets Technology," we conceptualized digitally-enhanced beaches, bioluminescence, and technology-rich boulders. Many of these ideas never made it through to completion, but the Strata concept was one that did.
Building 16 and 17 at the Redmond campus were renovated. Surrounding a main staircase, a massive, color-changing cube was constructed at each buildings' entry atrium. Using the vertical travel within these staircases, we conceptualized transporting users through digital layers of nature. Water, forest, birds, and clouds became the four layers we built– designing rich generative graphics displayed on a 3-story display and immersive synthesized audio routed to a 10-channel in-wall audio system. Both of these elements were sparked, evolved, and transitioned by simply walking up and down these staircases. The installation is currently installed and viewable to every guest visiting these two buildings.
The cubes at Building 16 and 17 are outfitted with Kinect sensors above their staircases. Our system starts with these Kinects identifying user positions linearly on each staircase. That information is sent via OSC to two places- a Unity engine which generates the visuals and interactions, and a Max MSP patch that generates audio and routes that audio based on these parameters. The Unity engine, which ran on a rack-mount gaming rig, is essentially a particle system that changes it's physics, aesthetics, and behavioral properties based on Kinect input. The audio engine is composed of 4 separate granular synthesis VST Plugins. Each synth is mixed to any number of our 10-Channel audio system, which places these sounds around the cavernous cube based on where the users are standing.
R&D / Software Development