UCL Home

Bloom - a crowd sourced garden


BLOOM is a crowd sourced 'garden' that engages people in the social game of building bloom formations. Initially a pavilion constructed by designers, people can manipulate the cells to add to the structure or build new ones. By exploring different combinations, people will be able to intuitively assemble, for instance, a chair or a canopy. BLOOM will become a construction site of collective creative play, and the building cells are flexible and resilient enough that people can bend the 'rules' of the game and invent something new!

BLOOM will be installed at Victoria Park, UCL, and the Cutty Sark, and is part of the capital’s city-wide celebration during the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

BLOOM is designed and developed by Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez from The Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL.

Project description

It's a game

BLOOM is an urban toy, a distributed social game and collective 'gardening' experience that seeks the engagement of people in order to construct fuzzy bloom formations throughout the city. A massive population of cells is introduced through the main 'portal' of the game in a form of a pavilion constructed by designers. People can able to add the pieces to the pavilion to alter its form as well as start seeding new ground sequences that can be used as urban furniture such as seating or simply unpredictable collective formations. New pieces will be fed into this collective emergent construction site depending on its intensity.

It's easy

Simple combinations between cells can produce different sequences. For example, each possible connection has a notation (A,B,C) and by following simple letter combinations you can build a ring, a spiral or a distributed branch, amongst other options. Varying combinations produce different sequences. Only by playing and discovering does the actual 'design' emerge. The final piece is a collective act of search and play.

It's crowd sourced design

It becomes impossible to forecast what people would do with such game! There is a universality to the building cells, but they also have embedded biases and information encoded into them. No matter how randomly participants connect the cells, they will always exhibit recognizable behaviors. By following certain combinations intuitively you can invent/assemble a chair or a bench, or by following certain other combinations you can construct a canopy. Due to the flexibility and resilience of the building cells, the 'rules' of the game can be bent; you can twist them to follow different shapes and discover new configurations!

It's a souvenir

Each cell is a souvenir of the London Olympics experience. The collective act of coming to one place and building something becomes a shared memory for each person attending. By taking one cell home, it becomes a symbol of the event and your participation in such collective play. None of the pieces can do anything on its own, only by putting together thousands of them can the game and the BLOOM garden emerge. The BLOOM cell is designed to be a desirable object to provoke natural dissemination throughout the world. The best form of recycling we can imagine would be if the BLOOM cells dissipate with people. Therefore the BLOOM garden will dissolve by the end of the games into a collective planetary memory... Of the city, the games and the newfound friendships. BLOOM contributes to the identity of the city and the Games by working on multiple levels: with the exuberance and appeal of its aesthetics, deeply participatory nature of being a collective game, migratory playground / construction site in the city, and a token of memory to take home...

It's reusable

The BLOOM cell considers recycling at two levels. The most basic one is that the plastic cell is 100% recyclable by the manufacturer or any plastic manufacturer. As the piece doesn’t have any paper label (like bottles or other products) the recycling is extremely efficient.

On a different end, BLOOM considers a mode of assembly, disassembly and re-usability that challenges the notions of traditional construction. Looking at the examples of toys like LEGO, the lifespan of the project is undetermined as it allows the project to adapt and reappear in many different places and occasions.

Aggregation of an existing structure / Prototypes

The bench structure is an initial seed for the visitors' interaction. It suggests a multiplicity of connection points from which the structure could start growing. An initial aggregation developed by the designers will show participants the possibilities of the system, but people can add more pieces in some areas in order to alter the general shape.



The Bloom Design Team:

  • Manja Van de Worp - Engineer
  • Pallavi Sharma
  • Nicolo Friedman
  • Vincenzo D’Auria
  • Mark Muscat
  • Salih Topal
  • Dagham Cam

Special thanks to:

  • Jose Victor Sanchez
  • Graciela Sanchez
  • Atomplast - Plastic Manufacture 
  • JMR Section Benders - main London contractor
  • Daniel Fraser
  • Yeoryia Manolopoulou
  • UCL – to all the staff from The Bartlett

The Bloom Live Team:

  • Sher Hann Chua
  • Justine Do Espirito
  • Chris Sazos
  • Maricruz Miranda
  • Corina Tuna
  • Phillipa Carveth
  • Julia Almeida
  • Vasilis Chlorokostas
  • Joanne Edmunds
  • Laura Young


During the Olympics, BLOOM will be installed at two sites: the BT London Live event in Victoria Park in East London, and the UCL main quad in Bloomsbury.

During the Paralympics, BLOOM will migrate to Greenwich where the piece will be installed at the Cutty Sark.