Design of the week

After the week we’ve had, the following research outcomes might change drastically in future, but the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) Village of 100 project will still be a delightful reminder of a slightly happier time in South African history.

Using data collected over a period of two years in its Quality of Life Survey, the GCRO – a research partnership between Wits, the University of Johannesburg and the Gauteng provincial government – worked with the agency League Digital to create a colourful, interactive and easy to use online platform to make sense of the substantial and important body of information it has gathered.

In it, the key points from the data are represented in the form of a village occupied by 100 people. Each person represents 1% of the population, making it easier to “read” the research findings. They move about a central public square each time you ask the application a question, such as: “What’s your community’s biggest problem?” Or: “How satisfied are you with your marriage, or relationship with your partner?” (Only 37.9% of the population is satisfied with their marriage, by the way). It’s really easy to use, and even prettier to look at.

The boundary of the square is full of familiar architectural icons, such as the Telkom Tower, the FNB Stadium, Ponte City and the Soweto Towers.

From the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is completing his doctor of design degree, GCRO research associate Guy Trangoš says: “From the outset, it was essential that the digital people occupied a large public square surrounded by the kinds of buildings and monuments that one would associate with Gauteng. Because the word ‘village’ is in the title, it was important for Gauteng to become one place.

“It was also important that the environment was created to be interesting, changing and interactive, and it needed to capture a fictitious place that was highly representative of Gauteng,” Trangoš says.

“The decision to treat the environment as a three-surface isometric world ensured a lighter website and an engaging and almost vintage arcade game feel.”

Try the site for yourself – you’ll be fascinated and learn more about this huge place that so many of us call home