Students look to the future by designing the new Bristol Portal

Media Relations Team, 31 March 2022

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A design concept for the digital portal placed on a street in Bristol.
A design concept for the new Bristol 'Portal' created by UWE Bristol product design students.

Product design students from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are competing to design a live digital ‘Portal’, uniting cities across the world.

The second-year students from UWE Bristol’s BSc and BA Product Design programmes have been challenged to design the new ‘Portal’ - an innovative and exciting digital window to another city – as part of a competition launched in partnership with Video Window

The aspiration is for a Bristol Portal to reflect the city’s culture and to allow the public to connect, in real-time, 24/7 with people from across the world.

Working in small teams, the students will be asked to consider and design creative technical solutions and a visual identity for the Portal, with the winning team being offered the opportunity to visit the world’s first Portal Unity Network which connects Lithuania and Poland. 

The original Portal was conceived and built by the not-for-profit Benediktas Gylys Foundation. It’s futuristic with an incredible industrial design and a unique, large circular display, providing a truly immersive experience. The Portal is linking cities and therefore countries and in doing so brings much needed unity to people and communities across the globe.

Placed in urban areas of two cities, the inhabitants of Vilnius and Lublin can reach out to each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And this is just the first step - going forwards the team will build a global network of Portals across all continents, so that by standing close to any of the Portals people will be able to connect with fellow humans from around the world. 

Ringaile Papartyte, ED of Portal Cities, said: “This will become the largest artwork in the world - for the world, and we are excited to take inspiration from the students at UWE in reaching this goal.” 

Daryl Hutchings, CEO of Video Window, said: “We’ve been inspired by the Portal’s aim to unify people across the globe.  Video Window’s aim is to remove frustration and improve human connection and we are proud to power the Portal in their goal to provide bridges to a unified planet.

“Bringing this to Bristol would be fantastic for this vibrant city and we encourage everyone to become involved in the project.  Where should the portal be sited and why? How can the design reflect the values of the city of Bristol?”

These questions are currently being considered by the students involved in this exciting project at UWE Bristol.  Video Window felt that this was a perfect opportunity for business to involve the future generation of designers.

Phil Bommer, Programme Leader for BSc (Hons) Product Design Technology at UWE Bristol commented: “This is an exciting project for both our students and UWE Bristol. It is the perfect opportunity for them to work with a real client on a project which has a genuinely positive and profound purpose as well as lots of technical, creative and practical challenges for them to take on.”

Doug Barber, Senior Lecturer of Creative Product Design at UWE Bristol, added: “It is great to be working with Video Window who are keen to treat our students as an integral part of their bigger team on what promises to be a creatively interesting project for all involved.”

And, the students are being asked not only to lead the design, but importantly to consider the practicalities of installing the Portal into a city.  Factors such as costs, environmental concerns and materials are weighted heavily in the competition as it is these factors that will help to turn the project into a reality for the people of Bristol.

Daryl Hutchings continues: “Video Window is looking for inspiration from the next generation of product designers, so we are super proud to be involved with UWE Bristol in our home city, on such an exciting project for humanity.”

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