Climate Stories

A collaboration between Shiftworks and PLACE

Climate Stories serves as a collective space for processing concerns about our changing climate & creating more community engagement in how we plan & prepare for our future. A collaboration between Shiftworks and PLACE, it is partially funded by MIT Climate Co-Lab. The project is being developed in multiple phases and seeks to explore one main question:

Is it possible to foster greater community engagement around climate change by contextualizing climate narratives through immersive installation?

Project History

The Climate Stories project evolved from community engagement-focused prototypes and installations created by Shiftworks, such as the 2016 Sea Level Stories installation at the Market Street Prototyping Festival. In this project, participants were welcomed into a living room set in the year 2200, articulated with views, interactive audio and objects useful for navigating the world seven generations from now. The piece invited visitors to explore sea level rise in the San Francisco Bay Area – in the past, present and future – and to share their thoughts on what those what those impacts meant to them.

Above : Images of the Sea Level Stories project by Shiftworks at the Market Street Prototyping Festival in San Francisco

Phase 1 : Ideation & Project Development

At the start of 2019, PLACE and Shiftworks began collaborating on a shared vision for the Climate Stories project. We evaluated the existing precedents from Shiftworks and articulated the steps needed to create an impactful experience that fosters critical engagement. The goal of the first phase of this project was to develop a compelling narrative and to explore how users might engage with it through an experiential space:

The format is an exhibition laid out as a living space from the year 2075. Walking inside the installation, you arrive 56 years in the future, when sea levels have risen roughly 3 ft and the world is a warmer place. You are renting the living room from CoWorld, a former co-working organization that now provides residential micro-apartments. The apartment is furnished with objects useful for navigating the future, including food, air filtration, water filtration, protective eyewear, communication devices, and dry shampoo. AR experiences allow you to delve deeper into the design of the apartment and the objects within, providing information about their utility and the materials and climate shifts that have resulted in their necessity.

Design Explorations

The design for the living space and objects within will be derived from natural systems, exploring the notion of a living environment as an ecosystem that maintains a symbiotic relationship with the world beyond. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with objects from the future, and the opportunity to interact as participants within the ecosystem.

Above : This series of sketches shows preliminary ideation, testing a biomimetic formal approach for the specific objects within the installation

Above : PLACE has been designing and prototyping objects for the Climate Stories experience, through combining fabrication methods like 3D printing with augmented reality

Phase 1 : Student Ideation

Running in parallel with our own ideation process, PLACE taught a semester long design studio with San Jose State interior architecture students at the start of 2019. Working in cohorts of five students, designed elements of a living space in 2075, specifically exploring furniture, food, communication, air and enclosure . They were prompted to think about how the impacts of climate change could be reflected in our living spaces and interiors. These explorations provided insight into how other designers might approach this narrative.

Above : Excerpts from San Jose State student projects that speculate on what enclosure, furniture, and food storage might be like in 2075

Phase 2 & Beyond

In future phases, we will develop the project into a portable, immersive installation that enables participants to experience and engage with the speculative future narrative. We would like this project to be as impactful as possible and to reach a wide range of people and communities.

Are you interested in collaborating with us, providing funding for or exhibiting the Climate Stories project? Please get in touch -- we’d love to continue the conversation.