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Staying well and staying close

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Meet SpongeSpace, Cyan Planet’s newest endeavour, which is a virtual space to work, connect and most of all be well, that just won the XR HUB Bavaria open call: “Dream your virtual spaces”.

Even before the time of Covid-19, virtual spaces were increasingly becoming an alternative to in-person meetings since they can, for example, help reduce carbon emissions from travelling and make meetings and conferences more inclusive for participants from the global South. During the current crisis, we are all looking for virtual ways to meet, collaborate and most importantly - connect with each other. This makes it even more important to create spaces that don’t just allow people to interact from a technical perspective, but also contribute to their mental and emotional well being. Most of us are quite familiar with the feeling of being exhausted after a day of video conferences, so creating a space where people feel well, a sense of calmness and even inspiration was our key aim when designing SpongeSpace.

To do this, we’re drawing on the psychological effects of “Blue Spaces”, as time spent near water, such as on coastlines, rivers or even fountains, has been shown to benefit mental health and psycho-social well being. Scientists are just beginning to understand the effects and potential benefits of Blue Spaces, but there seems to be something about the soft visual stimulation of water that tends to improve our well being. This might be due to the way our attention is held when we watch water flow and the way light interacts with it. This tends to hold our attention easily without effort and gives us a space to recover from cognitive fatigue and be more present in the moment. It might also provide us with a calm scope for reflection or spark our sense of curiosity and fascination with the natural environment. SpongeSpace aims to elicit these benefits by creating a calming marine environment with a peaceful attitude that will provide a safe, comfortable and stimulating space to work, learn and connect.

We chose a sponge as our place to meet and, with that, want to especially draw attention to sponges and less well-known aspects of marine life. Choosing sponges as a setting highlights the importance of understanding marine ecosystems from a micro perspective instead of charismatic mega fauna to draw attention to the often fundamental processes necessary for global ecosystem functioning.

SpongeSpace itself is a multi-purpose virtual space created using Mozilla Hubs that can be used for conferences, work sessions or group meetings, and networking. It consists of a sponge as the ‘building’, which is set in an underwater environment. Inside the sponge is a big area that can be used for large gatherings and the walls of the sponge contain smaller rooms that can be used for more intimate work sessions. SpongeSpace also contains observation decks for coffee breaks and networking as well as a marine conservation hub providing access to soothing underwater 360° videos and inspiration for ocean protection.

Our architect is the wonderfully creative Anna Pavelková. She focuses on exploring new forms of using space as well as reusing forgotten ones with a special interest in shared spaces. Our 3D artists and developers Akbar Suriaganda, Sarah Muser and Marian Ludwig will implement her ideas and designs in the virtual space, supported by the creative team behind SpongeSpace; Julia Jung, Michal Lovecky and Ninja Müller.

Come and check it out in a few weeks and tell us about your experiences with it!


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