Screenshot 2015-11-10 14.27.20.png

The growth of a real sharing economy depends on community. And it follows that building community is greatly helped by access to common space. That's why cities have been hailed as the great bastions of innovation–the more opportunity people have to connect with one another, the more likely for cross-pollination of ideas.

But not all public spaces are created equal. From emotional cues to physical attributes to public safety, creating quality public spaces that have the capacity to encourage serendipitous encounters, idea exchange and, ultimately, the synthesis of new ideas requires inspired design.

That's the impetus behind Geneva "artivist" Dan Acher's Happy City Lab project.  His project is "committed to the transformation of everyday life through interactive installations and events that generate powerful and participatory experiences."

Acher's projects are designed to surprise and delight, and ultimately, to get peple out of thier own boxes and interacting with the wider world. Past projects have included outdoor cinema picnics, installation of outdoor pop-up dance floors along commuter routes, a "lost piano" staged in the middle of a vacant field designed to bring people together, and "Play Me, I'm Yours!," an installation of 60 pianos on the streets of Geneva designed to inspire the inner performer of everyday citizens as they go about their daily lives. Acher's Neighborhood Exchange Boxes facilitated community interaction through the sharing and reuse of goods.

Happy City Lab's most recent installation is Street Light Orchestra, which premiered at Geneva World Music Day. The outdoor music and light installation allows passersby to stroll among virtual orchestra sections represented by various lights, pulsating to the rhythm and beat of classical works of music.

Acher writes about the piece:

Strangers smile easily at each other in this highly sensory environment, while others lean back and close their eyes or even start to dance. This musical and visual installation can really bring to life an underused urban area or create a captivating space in a festival or street party.

Words are inadequate. Check out this video to get a better idea of what it's all about:

STREET LIGHT ORCHESTRA – Happy City Lab from Happy City Lab on Vimeo.

Nina Ignaczak


Nina Ignaczak

Nina edits and publishes the Planet Detroit newsletter ( and writes and edits stories about all aspects of people and place.