The Bartlett School of Architecture


Screens in the Wild: Exploring the Potential of Networked Urban Screens for Communities & Culture

Screens in the Wild

Networked Urban Screens and Connected Communities

We address the research challenge of how to best integrate a radical and potentially disruptive new technology into the urban realm. As the technology progresses and cost decreases, broadcasters and commercial companies are making proposals for large screens in civic squares. In this respect, understanding issues of implementation for this technology and its impact on place and the quality of public experience is key.

We will explore the design, deployment and implications of an exemplar digitally connected urban screen network. Installed by the project in partner communities, this will enable the study of the potential to support communities (local and remote) and promote culture with the aim to maximise the quality of urban experience.

Research in the Wild

We propose to address the challenge through collaborative 'Research in the Wild' with our main project partner, the London Borough of Waltham Forest LBWF, in the build-up to and throughout the London 2010 Games.

The diversity of the local communities in LBWF provides a unique opportunity for the research to examine interactions with the sub-region (between the communities within the town centres), as well as UK-wide. The Olympics provides an ideal cultural backdrop to the research. 'Research in the Wild' allows us to address the concerns of researchers, designers, planners, urban managers, community leaders and policy makers in their drive to encourage public participation and to promote social cohesion.

For further information, please contact Ava Fatah: ava.fatah@ucl.ac.uk


Ava Fatah gen Schieck
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Alan Penn
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Project Collaborators and Partners

Holger Schnadlebach
Mixed Reality Lab
University of Nottingham

London Borough of Waltham Forest
Clive Morton, Head of Culture & Leisure Services
Leon Welford, 2012 Programme Manager

HORIZON, Digital Economy Hub, University of Nottingham

E11bid, Leytonstone Business Improvement District Company

Design Council/CABE


The project will generate an increased understanding of how the urban experience (mediated through connected urban screens) can be designed to augment real world interactions, support communities, and promote culture. This will be achieved by embedding multidisciplinary research directly within the community.

Project outputs include:

Exemplar urban screen network, software infrastructure, tools and interactive experiences deployed in different locations and time of the day.

Case studies of screen content and a body of critical and descriptive material detailing the urban screens network and the applications and experiences developed for others to re-use in the creative industries.

A design process that tackles the complex challenges: social, spatial and regulatory around urban screens (case material documenting stakeholder discussions and differing perspectives). 

A guidance co-authored with CABE/Design Council around the use of urban screens, directly relevant to planners and regulators. exemplar urban screen network, software infrastructure, tools and interactive experiences deployed in different locations and time of the day. 


The project outcome aims to impact on academic understanding of a complex emergent socio-technical phenomenon as it is happening as well as on stakeholder communities of industry, government and society in general.

The communication programme will ensure that the outputs generated through the study of the connected urban screens test bed will have impact UK-wide: technically, sociologically and economically.

Impact and pathways to impact will be considered for the following groups: the general public as inhabitants of urban space, screen managers and curators and content creators, the management of urban space at councils, designers of urban space and planners, community leaders and policy makers.

communities research