Data, Media, and Mashups

November 14, 2016

by Godiva Reisenbichler, Nan Tsai, and Nicci Yin

Tinder Motel by Nicci Yin

Tinder Motel by Nicci Yin


This fall, the faculty member Tim Durfee challenged his concept year students to to think about media and technology through spatial forms. The design brief for his course Lab Core A: Structures required students to take a predetermined building program—a mashup of a famous contemporary technology company with a familiar architectural establishment, such as a Tesla Self-Driving Raceway or a YouTube Cinema—and design a building. Their designs didn’t have to be functional or realistic, however, they were asked to construct physical models that reflected informed positions about the relationship between data, media, and the visible. The class also emphasized the experience of designing and making three dimensional space and form. The final designs of this TK-week project included a Tinder Motel, and Amazon Mall, and an Instagram Museum. Check out a few of the projects below:

Predetermined Building Programs:

AirBnB Hotel, Amazon Mall, Tesla Self-Driving Raceway, YouTube Cinema, Uber Depot, Tinder Motel, Soundcloud Concert Hall, Strava Track & Velodrome, uShip Storage, Instagram Museum, SpaceX Launchport, Twitter Coffee Shop, Facebook Forum



The Tinder Motel steers clear of parallels to love hotels. Rather, the project explores features that are essential to Tinder as an interactive application and to motels as a typology. For instance, the winding hallways of the Tinder Motel physicalize the swipe left/swipe right gestures that define the user experience of Tinder and form the basic structure of the motel. In addition, the project draws upon the origins of motels as motor + hotels with exterior corridors, and maintains these as features. An extra layer of the Tinder Motel is the privacy grottos, situated in open garden spaces. This is where visitors would interact with their “dates” privately, taking the courtship and romance of British gardens—the inspiration for these gardens—into the Tinder territory.

Uber Depot by Godiva Veliganilao Reisenbichler

Uber Depot by Godiva Veliganilao Reisenbichler



Uber Depot is a mashup of the popular ride sharing app, and the building typology of a depot, or train station. The primary question that drove the creation of this model was: If transportation needs to move through the building—by definition of the depot—then how can the building itself do as the Uber service model promises and be ready anywhere, anytime?

By decentralizing the centralized structure of the train depot, Uber Depot proposes an impermanent infrastructure, formed by channels that navigate below and above ground—coiling up neatly below ground level when inactive and climbing up above ground level, looping around buildings, and snapping to the existing channels of the city grid once rides are initiated. How would this kind of impermanent but invasive transportation infrastructure change the how the city behaves above ground?

uShip Storage by Nan Hung Tsai

uShip Storage by Nan Hung Tsai



Departing from the idea of unused spaces in delivery vehicles, uShip Storage explores the notion of unutilized personal space around our body. In an imagined society where efficiency is the top priority, we have to make use of every inch of our space, since we always have those private spaces surrounded us and constantly move from place to place, why not using these unused spaces to transport/store goods? And how much are those spaces worth?

Regarding the concept of a fully utilized space, on a macro scale point of view, we can imagine the whole society as a huge container, so everyone inside the city has an equalized personal space. However, this leads the consequence of smaller people having more spaces compare to the bigger ones. Does this new inequality introduce new problems of discrimination/gender/race/class/economy?

See a live demo.



Godiva Veliganilao Reisenbichler is a Concept Lab student from St. Louis, MO. She studied Painting and Art History at Washington University in St. Louis. This past summer, she worked with Lab faculty Ben Hooker and RISD Design + Media faculty Shona Kitchen on their research project that focused on the smart home in the smart city. Given her interest in the politics of technological objects, she also served as the physical prototyper for MDP’s summer research residents on their project, GunWorlds.

Nan Hung Tsai is a Concept Lab student from Taiwan. Inherited from his background in film production and advertising, he tends to create “spectaculars” in his projects. His approach forges unpredictable effects that entertain experiencers by magnifying the detail of mundane activity with a hint of whimsicality, and enables him to challenge the affordance of everyday object and behavior.

Nicci Yin is a Concept Lab student from Taipei and New York. She received her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College in Art History, Visual Arts, and Gender Studies. Prior to MDP, she worked with various arts organizations and was part of a center on feminist scholarship and activism (BCRW). This past summer, her interest in spatial design and technology led to an internship at Space Caviar, an Italy-based architecture and research studio.