Interactive art installation charges devices in Cook Street Village

Interactive art installation charges devices in Cook Street Village

WATCH: A new public art installation is helping people stay fit without standing up. 

If you’ve ever been out and find your phone has died, where can you go to charge it?

If you’re in Victoria’s Cook Street Village and have the energy to spare, you need to find the Urban Spinning Bench (USB).

“It’s one of those things that never occurred to me to be invented,” says a passerby.

It’s a phone charger, a place to workout and a work of art combined. All you have to do is plug in your phone, sit back, put your feet in the straps and start going for it.

The faster someone pedals, the more electricity is produced. But a speedy charge all depends on the phone model and how many apps are being used.

Two passerby’s test out the USB for the first time.

“I think people need to charge their phones all the time. Why not?” says local Vanessa Leong.

But the USB may not work for everyone. Leong and her friend Stephanie had some trouble reaching the pedals.

“If your legs were longer, you could probably really get going on it,” chuckles Leong.  “But you can lean back! [We’re] two ladies who are five feet. It’s not built for us.”

The USB is a collaboration project between the Renewable Energy Art Program, Integral Group and Cascadia Architects. Erica Mak, the project lead, says more urban art like this is in the blueprints.

Erica Mak, project lead designer of the USB, has plans for more interactive art installations.

“We have plans in the future… to do some wind power energy, solar, and some water in a series.”

This one-of-a-kind pilot project has been well received, compared to other art installations in the city that have garnered criticism for being non-interactive and dull.

Victoria mayor Lisa Helps says more neighbourhoods could be in line for projects like this one.

“Big projects are good, but I think little projects like the bicycle charger in Cook Street Village — they’re citizen-led, they’re neighbourhood scale, and they’re the kind of projects I’d like to see us support more of.”

So if you ever find yourself along Cook Street, make sure to take a seat and recharge.

Aaron GuillenAaron Guillen

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