In Boston, playgrounds are no longer just for kids. Twenty LED-lit circular swings have been installed outdoors as a part of “Swing Time,” Boston’s first interactive sculpture installation. The hanging, glowing orbs are a twist on traditional rubber-and-rope swings, dangling from a minimal steel structure similar to those used in conventional playgrounds. LED lights embedded in the swings activate and change color as each swing moves, returning to a dim white light when static. The piece is designed to blend Boston’s design community with its expanding technology sector while playfully engaging residents.
Inspired by traditional playgrounds, Swing Time aims to activate outdoor spaces in Boston using technology and creativity, and was designed by Boston-based Howeler and Yoon Architecture in response to a lack of opportunity for urban play in the city. Swing Time is located at the Lawn on D, a contemporary sculpture park that borders on the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on D Street on the city’s southern waterfront. The Lawn on D belongs to Boston’s newly minted Innovation District, an experimental area designed to foster the city’s burgeoning technology sector. Mayor Thomas M. Menino has defined the Innovation District as an “urban environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship,” creating a unique challenge for the designers of Swing Time.
The project represents a fusion of technology and community engagement while providing a new platform to celebrate local ingenuity. Each swing is formed of custom moulded and welded polypropylene built in three sizes for optimal use by residents of all ages. Movement in each swing is measured by an internal accelerometer that triggers the change of colour in the LED lighting system, ranging from white to blue and purple. The brief from Howeler and Yoon adds: “Swing Time‘s responsive play elements invite users to interact with the swings and with each other, activating the urban park and creating a community laboratory in the Innovation District and South Boston Neighbourhoods.”