Twitter users to take control of flower show garden

7 May 2013
By Edd Gent
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The appearance of the Digitial Capabilities garden will be influenced by activity on Twitter using the #rhschelsea tag

The appearance of the Digitial Capabilities garden will be influenced by activity on Twitter using the #rhschelsea tag

Twitter users will be able to directly influence the appearance of a unique digital garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

Created by academics at the University of Lincoln, UK, working with award-winning designers Harfleet & Harfleet, the Digital Capabilities garden will be divided diagonally by an autonomous-panelled screen which separates the planting of two distinct zones.

The foreground of the display, appearing at the flower show from May 21 to 25, will feature familiar plants and foliage with more exotic plants partially obscured behind a partition.

The panelled screen will respond in real-time to the level of excitement about the flower show, as measured by activity on Twitter using the #rhschelsea tag, revealing the inner depths of the garden when public excitement is at its peaks.

The project is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between academics from the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, School of Psychology and School of Architecture.

Shaun Lawson, Professor of Social Computing at the university’s School of Computer Science, says: “One of the things we’re trying to do through our research is to understand how digital media can be made to meaningfully intersect with the physical world.

“The garden is an opportunity to explore aspects of how we can interweave social media data with real space, as well as how it is possible to make sense of this data by creating thought-provoking visualisations.

“When people tweet, the screen will activate by opening various panels and permitting selected views of the ‘concealed’ garden. The planting inside represents the exotic or unknown immaterial world of the internet, moderated and revealed by our desire for knowledge and interaction.”

Head of Psychology at the University of Lincoln, Professor Harriet Gross, said: “I am interested in why gardens can be so important to our psychological well-being. Gardens often provide a space where people can think about things away from their day-to-day routines.

“They can also be places for public celebration and to share with friends and family. To reflect the variety of roles gardens can play in emotional and psychological well-being, our exhibit will contrast two distinct types of garden: one is familiar, available and safe.

“The other is hidden and exotic. Most importantly, the experience of the garden will be determined by people’s responses to it.”

Commissioned to provide the overall design is award-winning design duo Harfleet & Harfleet. Brothers Tom and Paul Harfleet share an interest in modern architecture and design innovation. Their first collaboration won an RHS Gold Medal and 'Best Conceptual Garden' at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2010.

The project’s website is available here.

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