The system allows people to book the private space in Machester City Centre for free using the Plot website. MagneticNorth says that the project is in part a reaction to ‘the move towards people’s preference to stream rather than buy, [and] access goods and services rather than own them’.
The space is based on the roof of the Victorian Barton Arcade building, which is usually closed to the public.
The Plot project also looks to respond to the desires of people living in cities to have a private outdoor space, and aims to ‘show technology in a physical space’, according to Laura Tombs, MagneticNorth project manager.
MagneticNorth developed the idea and created the branding and a fully responsive website for Plot. Tombs says, ‘The colour palette is deliberately summery and bright. We wanted something that was vibrant, even on a grey day in Manchester.
‘The colours are translated into the physical space, being picked up on the picket fence and the signage, and even in the colour of the flowers.
The space has power facilities and Wi-Fi connectivity, and it is hoped people will use it for activities including socialising, group exercise and events such as book clubs. It can hold up to 30 people at one time.
Features include plant sensor kits developed by Technology Will Save Us, which use LED sensors that blink when plants need watering. A screen contained within a shed window welcomes visitors to the space, displaying how long they have it for, the number of people in their booking, the weather forecast and a social feed of content from the Dig the City festival.
Among the bookings already taken for the space are a reunion, a ‘posh picnic’, a Ladies that UX group meet-up and a two-year old’s birthday to be attended by three generations of the family.
MagneticNorth says, ‘We love parks and public spaces but at times in places like Manchester city centre you just want a quiet spot to read or meet with friends and often (on sunny days) and you can end up jostling for space with half the city’.
Plot launches as a pilot for Manchester’s Dig the City festival, which runs from 2 -10 August.