ZWERM - Tree

location: ghent

Trees are totem-like urban interventions that are part of the neighborhood game ZWERM (Dutch for the word ‘swarm’), which was played in February-March 2013 in the city of Ghent, Belgium. These interactive sculptures contain a touch-screen computer, an RFID-card reader and a 3G modem. A Tree is placed on a central square in each of the participating neighborhoods, which compete in a one-month game. Players of the game get points when scan an RFID game card at the card reader of the Tree, an action we termed 'check-in'. Players who ‘check-in’ alone score 10 points. When they scan their card together with someone they did not ‘check-in’ before, they each get 40 points. The goal is to get citizens physically together and get them to talk to each other, ultimately provoking a process of collaboration and self-organization. In the test-bed city of Ghent, a process of self-organization occurred in which people initiated events and gatherings around the tree with drinks, music and fire-pits.

The aesthetic concept of the Trees is inspired by nature (e.g. communal action of ‘swarming’ of birds) and ‘hip’ vintage computer games (e.g. low-polygon 3D models). Combined with the use of modern plywood material, a kind of ‘digital nature’ style was created.

ZWERM partners: iMinds, Alcatel-Lucent, City of Ghent. With collaboration of MAD-faculty and Fab Lab Genk and Firma 103. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under grant agreements n°270971: SmartIP.