Korean Shopping Mall Moonlighting as Environmental Educator!

A reactive art display is alerting Seoul residents when air quality soars.


(imtmphoto / Shutterstock.com)

A shopping mall in Seoul, South Korea, is creatively transforming its external walls into a barometer of local pollution. This is helping keep locals in the air quality loop in an entertaining way.

In a bold move designed to help inform and educate the public, the exterior of the Hanwha Galleria is now showcasing a “reactive” wall that changes color depending on local air pollution levels reports TrendWatching.  

When pollution levels are low, the eye-catching media display exhibits lights in various shades of stunning green. Meanwhile, when pollution levels are high, the wall displays vibrant red lights and a red video. According to KoreaBizWire, the installation is part of the mall’s “Right! Galleria” campaign, which encourages sustainable consumption. 

Furthermore, on days where fine dust levels are 81μg/m3 or higher, the mall is even giving out free masks to customers. 

South Korean citizens already receive a digital notification through their smartphones alerting them to high air pollution levels. The Hanwha Galleria’s reactive wall seeks to extend that messaging beyond the digital sphere into a more physical experience in the real world. The Galleria’s initiative is also a super creative way of using pre-existing spaces as educational tools for public safety purposes. 

Many spaces, whether public or private, can potentially be redefined to feature environmental education. Public spaces such as parks are commonly used by a city to inform its citizens of ways that they can “go green” in their day-to-day lives. These campaigns can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. Collectively, they can also help a city or business realize larger environmental goals, saving cities and organizations significant sums of money as well as saving resources. 

While we typically assume that a company, municipality, or organization should take the initiative in building green awareness campaigns, individuals inside organizations also have immense power to creatively redefine spaces by adding thought-provoking content designed to educate people to conserve resources.

An example of one such campaign that has gained significant traction has involved paper cut-outs of famed youth activist Greta Thunberg, as reported by Haaretz newspaper. In this initiative, office workers in numerous companies have placed photographs of Thunberg in their workplace kitchens near the plastic cups and cutlery, in order to raise awareness of the overuse of single-use plastic.

This has turned kitchenettes that typically host water cooler conversations into niches of environmental awareness overnight, and has even led to changes in office policy and behavior. 

At a time when multi-use space and collaborative consumption is a revived trend, we can actively seek opportunities to share knowledge that will improve public health and preserve resources.

Take a moment to look around you. Think which unused wall or public space could be recast as an educational hotspot?  Which information would you want to put there? 

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