2020 Namur Brass, Aluminum, LED, Glass, ESP32

Co-producers : Trakk - Edutainment

Photo credits : Pauline+Luis, Guillaume Slizewicz

An data visualisation lamp that translate open source pollution data into light patterns

Canari is a lamp that transform local air quality data into light patterns. It draws its inspiration from the canari, a bird that was the coal-miners companion and alerted them when the air was contaminated.

The table lamp version of the project is supported by @kikk_festival through its edutainment program. A program that gathers academics, designers and companies around a theme related to science.

Air pollution is sometimes called the “invisible killer”. Whereas in the past, smoke from factory or incinerator chimneys was a fairly reliable indication of the presence and location of toxic air, today air pollution is mostly imperceptible to the naked eye. On the contrary, a sunny day with blue skies is a condition often associated with high pollution.

Yet air pollution is omnipresent in our cities. Government institutions and universities have long been working to measure and map it, and more recently, local projects and initiatives have also enabled citizens to become involved in analyzing and learning more about this complex phenomenon. But too often the data remain in libraries or laboratories and are, at best, disseminated on the internet. Where it is available, it remains incomprehensible to the uninitiated. Once again, air pollution remains in the ether, invisible.

The Canari project aims precisely at revealing air pollution.

In the past, in coal mines, canaries were carried away as a signal, alerting miners when the air became unbreathable. Seeing these birds choke (often due to too high a concentration of carbon monoxide), miners could escape before it was too late. In a similar way, the Canari Project wants to raise awareness of air pollution by turning toxicity data into light signals. Using the coal mine analogy also means associating the past with the present, the mine with air pollution, faith in industrial progress and the damage it has caused.

Canari makes air pollution visible, by making the reading of data related to pollution instinctive, through the light patterns that a lamp displays, their speed, their amplitude. The objective is not only to give information to the citizen, but rather to sound the alarm and alert them to the need to act at that moment, at that place.

In this spirit, the Canari project joins the movement of citizens, associations and researchers who have mobilised in recent years to demand cleaner air: by raising awareness of the geography and scale of the problem, we hope to encourage community involvement and action towards a more sustainable future and to put pressure on decision-makers for rapid improvements in this area.

This prototype lamp is part of a longer trajectory on air quality representation supported by Trakk through its edutainment programme that brings together academics, designers and local businesses around a science-related theme. This prototype is the result of a collaboration between academics (Nicola Da Schio and Tarek Barakat) and a designer (Guillaume Slizewicz), supported by the Trakk team (Marine Warzée, Laura Latour and Maryline Munch).

Canari has been awarded the citizen science award at CrQlr and has been features in many publications including DesignBoom, Area Architecture and Springwise