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The ‘VERTEL-STEL’ [1] is an urban plug-in for the community of Rozenburg, NL. The project performs as one of the community’s ‘inhabitants’, its aim is to generate an intimate public space to heighten social discourse by the simple, but powerful means of storytelling.

The project is designed as two ‘alien-like’ units that operate as a ‘duo’ within the urban fabric. Their unfamiliar character prompts attention. One unit of the ‘VERTEL-STEL’ asks a question and records the residents’ responses. The other unit shares these responses. Rozenburg proved an essential case study for the project, since it appears that the urban meeting places – that had existed before within the community – had faded with time.

This project grew from my personal interest in theatre and scenography. Both representative features of theatre are inspiring to me: the imaginary aspect of spaces and the behavior of people. ‘Shaping a place is as much about imagining as it about building.[2]’

The typical character of the design – which also contributes to the creation of an interior space – is determined by the cartoonish, illustrative qualities of the design. Strong but sketchy black lines, leaving traces of the hand of the designer, outline the two parts of the ‘VERTEL-STEL’. The duo is designed to complement the human body with ‘tactile insides’ as it also creates a feeling of ‘urban interiority’ by bringing temporary shelter and intimacy to the exterior. The software that allows the ‘VERTEL-STEL’ to work independently is a set of sensors guided by an arduino [3].

The ‘VERTEL-STEL’ collects the information that is shared. This will generate a circuit where a continuous loop of stories is shared. The ‘VERTEL-STEL’ strives to bring back communication as a ‘binding agent’ in a community that is searching for one identity.

[1] ‘VERTEL-STEL’ is a neologism that fuses different words: vertel = to tell, stel = a couple/ seating Arrangement and vertelsel = a story.
[2] A quote by: EXPERIMENTADESIGN Amsterdam. 2008. Space and place: design for the urban landscape. [online]. www.experimentadesign.pt
[3] An arduino is an open-source electronic prototyping platform allowing to create interactive electronic objects. Arduino. 2005. [online]. http://www.arduino.cc/