The Alexandra Institute // Cases // Northern Lights

Northern Lights


Northern Lights

Interactive urban installation brings life to the city centre of Horsens

Northern Lights changed a deserted square in Horsens into a vibrant and dynamic shopping area with interactive light and sound

As many other cities, Horsens is facing the challenge with a deserted city centre after closing time. When the citizens abandon the centre, large areas are left empty and desolate. But the aim of the urban installation, Northern Lights, is to change this.

Interactive environments can help to create unique and living areas that attract. The different sounds in the installation contribute to a different atmosphere causing curiosity and surprise. The light of the new installation attracts the citizens when darkness falls. This also helps to make the space safer and more welcoming.

By means of sound, light and interaction the goal of the new urban installation is to encourage a new form of break and contribute to social cohesion. Time is over where we should keep off the grass, the art could only be observed from a distance and information technology was equal to the PC in the office. People nowadays put different and greater demands on the design and use of public spaces. We at the Alexandra Institute are experts in taking up this challenge.

Northern Lights is an interactive urban installation located on a city square in the centre of Horsens. It was developed in cooperation with the Municipality of Horsens as part of the initiative Feel the City, which consisted of a number of initiatives in 2013 to create more activity and revive the city.

The interactive sound and light installation is designed to spread a calm and relaxing atmosphere in the city square to provide citizens with a breathing space in their busy schedules. It consists of five swings, all of which activate different parts of a large sound universe. Depending on which swings are active, sound is transformed in different ways, and depending on the time of the day the theme will change.

Northern Lights is inspired by the installation SwingScape (later named PIXLswing), which was developed in 2010 for the Spirit and Knowledge Festival in Roskilde with the aim of creating a new active living space in the city during the winter season.

When the swings begin to move they activate light and sound. Because the accelerometre is sensitive according to its position, it can also affect the sound intensity depending on how fast the swing is going. The light sources have been designed for the installation and are built into specially designed steel columns. These vary both in color, movement pattern and brightness and can sustain the winter’s cold degrees.

The sensors in the swings give us a quantitative picture of when the various swings are being used and by how many persons. We receive data every hour throughout the year and from these we can form a picture of the most popular sound schemes, on which time of day the installation is being mostly used, and whether it can actually get people outside during cold winter period in Denmark.

There are many references to a former project, PIXLswing, which we developed for the Roskilde Festival. However, in terms of form and material this new installation contextually plays closer together with the urban space in Horsens. The vertical columns of varying lengths are located in an area that makes up for the sharp edges and which gives associations to a dynamic wood. You are invited into a comfortable and quiet atmosphere, where you along with others may activate different soundscapes.

In this project we have cooperated with Horsens Municipality

In cooperation with us, Horsens Municipality did actively engage in creating a modern and dynamic experience city.
Can we help you?
IT-City of Katrinebjerg

Åbogade 34

8200 Aarhus N
+45 70 27 70 12