'Sound checking' for Compose the Space by the Maker Cube team. The interactive idea is coming to Surrey's 3 Civic Plaza on Friday nights this month.


Community engagement project jazzes up Surrey downtown plaza

September 08, 2017

An engaging idea is turning steps into song in Surrey’s 3 Civic Plaza at City Hall on Friday nights through September.

Compose the Space, conceived by SFU student Marc St. Pierre and Interactive Arts alumnus Tim Kong, is an interactive outdoor installation that builds on the infamous "piano stairs" concept. Their goal is to inspire community engagement in Surrey’s downtown core.

Those travelling through the plaza can interact with the makeshift piano, in the form of a thin sensor-laden mat, on Friday nights September 8 – 29 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

The pair conceived the idea and were winners of an SFU-Surrey Student Engagement Competition prize last fall. The annual contest encourages students to develop and pitch ideas that engage the community. The duo netted $2,000 from the City of Surrey to create the installation.

St. Pierre says the project combines elements of Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and Dance Dance Revolution and aims to prompt people to move, listen, and have fun together.

Guided by a wall projection, participants can play the piano by dancing over its keys. But the music will really come to life when people play together.

“The installation’s key engagement tactic is to encourage strangers to collaborate in creating rich and interactive music, where the participation of one person is not enough to create the full musical experience,” says St. Pierre, a project developer with SFU’s student-run Maker Cube Society.

The installation is being presented by the Maker Cube team, including Karen Cancino and Doug Chan, together with Surrey Libraries, the City of Surrey, and the SFU-TD Community Engagement Centre. A team of student and graduate composers, graphic designers and engineers also participated in creating the installation.

The project is one of three of the most recent contest winners. Prizes, sponsored by Blackwood Partners of Central City Mall, were also awarded to Media Minds, an after-school program to ease young newcomers’ transitions, and a speed-friending project.

Ideas are now being sought for the 2017 competition. Students are invited to send a brief summary of their ideas until December 1. For more details see: https://www.sfu.ca/engagement-competition.html