Interview with researcher

Visitors to the Dome of Visions can see sensors set up in various locations in the structure. But what do they measure and what will the data be used for?

We asked the architect Charlie Gullström a few questions. She is leading the interdisciplinary research group KTH Smart Spaces: Architecture and Interactive Media, and is conducting research into how virtual spaces can be combined with physical locations and buildings.

Can you tell us about the measurements being taken in the Dome of Visions?

“There are a number of sensors that measure temperature, movement, humidity and the number of visitors. One aim for NCC is to see how this special building handles fluctuations in temperature during the year and the difference between the inner and outer space and what there is to learn from this type of passively-heated building. For us, we are looking at how you can, in real time, offer visitors entering the building more information than they usually receive. Buildings today are actually what we call ‘smart’, as they measure many different things – but this data usually mainly benefits the property manager, rather than those who use the building. I would therefore like to introduce the expression ‘street-smart buildings’, as sharing this data with users can also be valuable.”

How can the measurement data be used?

“If you know more about when and where people are in a building, then you could use this information to, for example, not heat all spaces all of the time. You can also learn about the efficient use of different spaces in a building. We can learn from this and use this when we design new buildings. This type of data can also be used to create smart services, for example, that as a regular visitor I will receive information to my cellphone when I enter a specific building. Because I have been here before, then there may be information that is of particular interest to me. In the Dome of Visions, these functions could include future programs or which spaces are currently vacant. Augmented reality could be used so that furniture and other interior décor react when I pass by.”

Have you made any surprising discoveries?

“We have learned that there are significant temperature fluctuations in the building and that even if the ceiling in the assembly room shows one temperature the temperature closer to the floor is completely different. We also wanted to see how much ambient temperature leaks from the inner, heated room to the outer, as the principle for a passive building is that the core should keep warm. But I believe more work is needed considering building materials that store heat before there can be a serious comparison with passively-heated buildings.”

“We have also connected the CO2-reference value to the motion detectors. Someone walking past has little impact on the measurement, but you can see a difference when several people have a meeting.”

How are the results used?

“At KTH, several tutors have used the Dome of Visions as a test environment for students who are working with various projects linked to energy issues and new visualization technology. Though these are not formal scientific studies, rather this is experimental use.”

“We look upon the Dome of Visions as a type of test-bed that is continuing at other locations, such as the KTH Live-in Lab, where researchers will conduct more structured tests. We have invited KTH researchers to take this opportunity to experiment while they can!”

Contact Charlie Gullström