App Insights Digital Placemaking Mobile Technology

Explaining the ideas at Ideascape: Porth Teigr

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Porth Teigr is located in the Roath Basin area of Cardiff Bay, which was once the heart of Cardiff Docklands – the world’s busiest port in the nineteenth century. Today, the area is being redeveloped to include 1,000 new homes, 1.2 million square feet of commercial space and exciting new community facilities.

We’ve been working with Igloo – the sustainable developers behind the project – to explore how digital technology can enhance the way visitors and residents experience the Docklands. Part of our ongoing collaboration was Ideascape: Porth Teigr in September 2017. This experimental sandbox showcased concept and prototype technologies created by multidisciplinary community stakeholder groups, helping stimulate people’s imaginations about the type of place they wanted Porth Teigr to be.  

Held in a public space in Porth Teigr, the open event was designed to attract local residents, workers and visitors to ten exhibits, each offering an idea for improving the experience of being in Porth Teigr. In turn, our researchers gathered feedback from participants via chalkboards, questionnaires and interviews with the Calvium team.

Key for us was finding an engaging way to encourage new conversations among the Porth Teigr community – including residents, neighbours, architects and town-planners.

Below are the concepts presented at Ideascape – including the ideas behind them, the questions answered by them, and our thoughts on why they work well in the context of Porth Teigr, specifically.

Concept 1: Book This Space

Question: How can we make it easier for local residents to use publicly-owned spaces for projects or events?

Idea: Develop an online booking form & toolkit to enable residents to find, book and access public spaces in Porth Teigr.


Our thoughts:

The culture of pop-ups and ‘meanwhile’ spaces captures public interest and can give lesser-used areas a new and vibrant feel. Often though, the process of using these spaces is difficult, because of a lack of information and public awareness that it’s possible. ‘Book this Space’ proposes a way to streamline the process, which could offer an opportunity for councils and owners of spaces to engage and generate revenue, while providing people with a platform to try out their ideas.

Concept 2: Past & Future Views

Presented by Zubr

Question: How can we visualise Porth Teigr’s history and future, in situ?

Idea: Build a pair of augmented reality sightseeing binoculars.


Our thoughts:

People loved interacting with this installation, which mixes the nostalgia of seaside attractions with the magic of seeing a landscape change before your eyes. The fact that you don’t need anything to take part was key, allowing anyone, smartphone user or not, to walk up and see the past and future of the area spring to life around them.

Concept 3: Porth Teigr Trail

Question: How can we reveal Porth Teigr’s history on site, and amplify the stories of Porth Teigr today?

Idea: A site-specific storytelling audio app that takes you on a journey around Porth Teigr, exploring its past and present in compelling ways.


Our thoughts:

Audio trails are a great way to position people inside a narrative space. We used this app to broadcast the insights of business owners occupying Porth Teigr, while showcasing a narrative around Teigr Bay’s past to inspire the audience to think about its future.

Concept 4: Digital Town Crier

Question: How can we support independent businesses in Porth Teigr to market themselves?

Idea: A digital town crier announcing limited-quantity offers from local independent restaurants, cafés and shops.


Our Thoughts:

This demo gave new meaning to street furniture, making it useful to the community by encouraging passers-by to visit local businesses. The device was designed to look like a bright yellow nautical buoy, as a nod to the heritage of the area. The volume of the spoken adverts was quiet enough that only nearby visitors could hear its offers. The concept worked well. People approached, curious about the buoy, and had offers whispered to them as they got closer. This created an intimate interaction that was far more effective than we expected.

Concept 5: Connecting Physical & Digital Archives

Question: How can we connect Porth Teigr to its archival history?

Idea: An installation of archival objects, allowing immediate access to relevant digitised archival film, audio and photographs.


Our thoughts:

The idea is simple; connecting physical objects to relevant heritage audio or video, and the idea resonated with participants. When speaking about the Cardiff Bay area, there was a feeling that the history should be more visible (e.g. anchor chains, monuments to seafaring, shipping-inspired public artworks), so this seemed like a way to begin that process on a smaller scale.

Concept 6: Teleconfusion

Question: How can we connect communities either side of the Cardiff Bay Barrage?

Idea: Install a free telephone box on both sides of the Barrage, which connect only to each other – allowing playful ways to connect with someone you haven’t yet met.


Our thoughts:

Prompting people to be playful in public spaces is a great thing to strive for. Making this installation work in the long-term would require some consideration around minimising misuse and maximising the conversation-starting potential between neighbours.

Concept 7: Urban Rooms

Presented by The Architecture Centre

Question: How can we encourage citizens to actively engage with placemaking?

Idea: Provide a physical and/or digital ‘Urban Room’ in every city: a space where people can understand, debate and involve themselves in the past, present and future of where they live, work and play. At Ideascape, this was demonstrated as a work station, with prompts asking visitors to provide their thoughts on what makes a “good or bad space”.

The Urban Room was presented by The Architecture Centre, an organisation that works across the South West to engage people in design, architecture and placemaking.

Our thoughts:

People seemed to really engage with this idea, and in a way, it felt like the entire event was a kind of Urban Room. We were using postcards to get people to write down their thoughts, which became catalysts for the kind of engaged conversations that were sparked between participants, as well as members of the team.
Ideascape sparked valuable conversations and interest about what a digital layer to the neighbourhood might look like, bringing together developers, residents, neighbours, visitors and industry professionals. As urban spaces become more densely populated, the need for valuable conversations between these groups will be key to fostering and nurturing communities that grow. Events like Ideascape are one way to start these discussions.

We’ll be publishing a research report detailing our event findings, including interviews performed by the Calvium team. Sign up to our newsletter below to get the report when it’s published.