Porte des Savoirs

Big Data, Immersive, Installation
Information Perception, Social Dynamics

How can an embodied experience of immersion and information flow be designed in public space?

La Porte des Savoirs
La Porte des Savoirs

The initial question at the origin of this project touches on fundamental and critical notions involving our information age: Is it possible to create the sensation of bodily immersion for something which – by its nature is an intellectual and not a bodily experience – the reading of text?

La Porte des Savoirs

The context of the project adds yet another dimension: sitting on the outskirts of town, at the last station of the metro line, it aims to improve the perception of an urban environment. Entering in town proposes an experience of density of physical spaces, objects and encounters, and likewise of knowledge and information production. The project questions how one perceives such an experience in that it literally streams information into a public space.

In order to create a clear and powerful spatial setup, the space for displaying information takes up the entire space available on location, thus bringing the body in correlation with the text flow itself. Porte des Savoirs plays on the scale and the movement of the text flow in critical relation to the reader’s body in space. Through size, speed and movement of information and the direct visual and physical contact of the observer with the text, a bodily relation between messages sent and receiver is established. Spatially this relation is brought to its radical consequence in that any spatial boundary in the vertical is dissolved. In a kaleidoscope where the only horizontals, that could provide stability and support, are the bands of text that travel through an endless space mirroring itself in reflecting surfaces on the floor, ceiling and wall.

Light and contrast emitted by the 25 m² screen-floor suspend the observer in a void. The visual stimuli that act at precise speeds engage with one’s sense of gravity: the body loses sense of time and presence.

The installation plays with different levels of our perception: one flow of content is always optimized for reading, putting an emphasis on the meaning of information, as the other lines play with scales, rhythms and accelerations to create a landscape of sensation.

The interactive features of the installation, through the sensitive floor, induce a relationship between the visitors, the content and the immersive dimension. It activates readings in different depths in mirrored reflexions.

Ultimately Porte des Savoirs plays on the dichotomy between the content of the information, and its aesthetic dimension – the appearance of text. Being immersed in the aesthetic and spatial dimension of these flows of information does not imply immersion in the content of that same information – this remains entirely the work of our imagination.

The Porte des Savoirs was installed in the entrance of the new Vaudoise Assurances offices at the exit of the M2 Metro Croisettes stop in 2013.


Nicolas Henchoz


Dieter Dietz, Rudi Nieveen, Guillaume Othenin-Girard, ALICE EPFL

Interaction Design

Nicolas Henchoz, Thibault Brevet, Tommaso Colombo


Delphines Ribes

Construction Company

Stahl & Traumfabrik AG

Interactive LED screens

UTRAM (integrator), EKTA Company (manufacturer)

Photography Credits

© EPFL+ECAL Lab / ALICE / Joël Tettamanti

Video Credits


Direct download