Megan Studer
Saki Hayashi

mnemonic making; an architectural toy

As architects, we were interested in how to combine the tactile materials and spatial imagination of traditional modelling with the tactile interfaces of physical computing and memory functions of php. Leveraging the popularity of game simulations like sim-city, the toy enables a community of users to build, save, and share others' spatial designs on-line, across time, and in miniaturised real space.

Comm Lab: Web,Introduction to Computational Media,Introduction to Physical Computing

While playing this toy, you may come across ghost players.

You would have experiences you have played with wooden pieces, doll houses, paper dolls, cards, etc with your friends and family.

As well as you develop your special recognitions, story-making, and you draw your imagery house, school, church, town, and scripting dialogues for the protagonists by putting the pieces together, placing and animating the dolls and objects there. You personalise the generic objects.

Although number of people have similar toys to yours, conventionally, the objects do not communicate each other. In addition, most of the time, you have to clean up what you created,and barely you display them in your room. You clean up them and store them in a box, decomposing your sign of the memory.

Smart Architectural Toy comprises a number of units, one board with four grids and sets of paper dolls and sttafage(landscapes). You can make any types of the combinations of the four units as a typology and press the buttons among ‘school’, ‘office’, ‘church’ and ‘houses’. The button generates the iconic sounds of the building typology, encouraging the players to place, the paper dolls and staffages(landscapes) attached.While playing, it allows the players to consider how a space becomes a public space, how the layout of windows, walls and doors change people’s dialogue between neighbours, friends, strangers, how people meet on the street, and how they interact with neighbours and guests by changing the layout of the topology.

When you press the button for the typologies, sometimes a magical moment happens that all the floor units light up. This tells presence of the ghost players who may be you in the past or someone else around the world, have made the same combination for the typology. This happens since pressing the buttons includes not only the function generating the sound yet also saving the data of the combinations online.


-when you share similar ideas to others, you can think more why it happens there and why not(more engaging).

-the magical moment gives additional value for the players, they may not want to make the same one or may really want.

The moment you are seeing the cheerful lighting up coming up, can be the moment you share your ideas with the ghost players or reconstruct your past memories, your(and your friends') past presence.

The project combines php, html, css, arduino, and processing, which builds upon our prior architectural knowledge of spatial typologies and their discursive history.

Children: over 8 (to build spatial awareness),

Adults: anyone who appreciates spatial scenarios

User Scenario
Someone places the pieces, hits save and then, given those database results, they will be able to see a web copy. If it matches another player, both the piece lights in response and the web (eventually) will provide info so the two players can connect and discuss their models.

The pieces use simple circuit completion and built-in resistors to identify unique IDs, piece orientation, and different analog pins to identify each spatial positions on the grid. LEDs are triggered by the different records/matching values saved by processing and queried by php.

We have discovered potential application of linking and sharing architectural thought across web and other virtual spaces.