Large digital screens, also known as urban screens, are increasingly prevalent across today’s cities dispersing into everyday urban spaces such as public squares and cultural precincts. The Federation Square screen is a well-known example that is used to establish the character of the precinct, engaging audiences in shared activities such as the screening of live events.
Local governments and urban planners increasingly attempt to implement the “Federation Square effect” in new Australian developments aiming to create a sense of place and add long-term social, cultural and economic value for citizens who live and work in those precincts. For example, the recently completed “The Concourse” precinct in Chatswood features a large screen and new developments such as Barangaroo and the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct involve proposals for urban screens that flank public sites.
The challenge implementing urban screens in new developments is ensuring they respond appropriately to the physical and socio-cultural environment in which they are placed. Attempts to recreate the Federation Square model have had limited success, largely due to a lack of interdisciplinary consultation during implementation. Typically, in such developments the architect or builder hand over the screen to the precinct owner, without providing a long-term strategy for how the screen can be used to successfully engage local citizens.
With research funding from the Henry Halloran Trust for urban planning research, UTV partnered with our university partners at UNSW, UNSW Art and Design, University of Sydney and Queensland University of Technology in a 12-month research project to explore interactive methodologies aimed at achieving more effective audience engagement.