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Building User Response Gadgets

Data visualization and user interface of an energy information system.


BURG (Building User Response Gadgets) is an artwork that anthropomorphizes a building by connecting energy systems (cold water, steam and electricity) with human systems (cardiovascular and respiratory systems). It does this using a exhibiting in real time the Energy Information Systems (EIS) set up at the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering San José State University Building. It also has a micro version that connects to the activities of the electricity loads (computer, light, cell phone charge) of the building occupants. The micro system is represented in a kinetic interface mobilized by a set of motors and Arduinos and tweets status information to a social network. This is also represented in the form of a heart and lungs.


The overall objective for BURG is to create an aesthetic system for people to understand their building’s needs. The Energy Information Systems and Smart Buildings often struggle with how to visualize data so that occupants will change behavior or take action. BURG offers a solution to this problem. BURG strives to ignite a dialogue between human behavior architecture and the environment.

BURG Micro

2010, Window installation 66" x 79", object 18" x 20"


MEDIA: site specific installation, Arduino, Ecoflex, acrylic, wire, motors, Kill-a- Watt, computer, Internet, light.


A site-specific installation using energy data from a commercial building and small office components (computer, light, charger) and turning them into human systems (heart and lungs). BURG - MICRO focused on common elements in internal office space including a computer; light; cell phone charge, etc. This system of data collection and execution has its own complexities. This system is exhibited as a kinetic physical object rather than a digital display.


Arduino work by James Stone.



BURG Macro

2010, Originally 1920, 1080 dpi

MEDIA: Adobe Illustrator and Flash.


BURG Data Visualization by the SJSU School of Engineering. BURG - MACRO connects a commercial buildings energy systems to human systems. BURG - MACRO connects the cold water; steam; electricity collected from a smart meter in the building and is exhibited as a set of lungs on a television monitor. The lungs change colors and shape as the building uses more or less electricity. An energy use baseline, given by the SJSU Energy and Facilities department, is determined to view or observe whether or not the lungs turn red (overused) or blue (systems powered down) or stay green/grey (baseline use). Connecting with the human respiratory system contextualizes the human vital need of oxygen; water; and calories to the architectural vital need of electricity; cold water; and steam. Part of the purpose of the project is to design an interface for an EIS System that will ultimately lead to behavioral change or action. This artwork uses the model of the human cardiovascular and respiratory systems in order for people to relate their own bodies to the body of the building.


Technical work by Brandon Rose. Data supplied by the SJSU Energy and Facilities Department



Danielle Siembieda is a Systems Artist and Environmental Performance Expert based in the San Francisco Bay Area 

© 2023 Siembieda & Associates

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