For my Advanced Technologies module this week I needed to discuss an architectural detail of note. Rather than pick something generic I thought I'd take it in another direction and present the interactive exhibits that impressed me when I visited the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Centre, Seattle in August.

*POSSIBLE Agency (2013) POSSIBLE Case Study: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center. Available at:*

The Walk for Water activity at Gates Foundation Visitor Center - Gates Foundation (No date)

Exploring the Innovation & Inspiration Gallery Visitor Center - Gates Foundation (No date)

Building solutions in the Innovation & Inspiration Gallery Visitor Center - Gates Foundation (No date)

The first exhibit to impress me was the simple rollers which when rotated raised or lowered a perspex graph over the photographs and graphics on the wall. This could be simply achieved with a mechanical wire and winch, but instead the roller features a sensor which signals to an electric motor to raise or lower. The advantages of the digital method are two-fold.

  1. The mechanics are less likely to be damaged by rough usages.
  2. The system automatically resets itself after a period of time, meaning the graphs are lowered to their default state for the next user.

The second impressively simple exhibit was the rotating globe. A potentiometer detects when a user rotates the globe and adjusts the on-screen graphics to geographic/contextually relevant stories.

These details are surprisingly simple to produce with only a small amount of electrical knowledge and can be done incredibly cheaply and intuitively using Arduino.

Gates Foundation (No date) Gates Foundation Visitor Center - Photos. Available at: