São Paulo-based EstúdioGutoRequena’s most recent project ‘My heart beats like yours’, taps into the power of empathy and design-as-activism to create a tribute to the LGBT+ community in Brazil. The large-scale interactive piece is a hybrid between public urban furniture and sculpture, set in São Paulo’s iconic Praça da República, where the first meeting of the LGBT+ activist community took place (1978) and where the diversity and inequalities of Brazilian society is visible every day, in the stream of passersby and the numerous homeless that gather in the area.

Brazil is the country where the most people from the LGBT+ community were killed in 2017. The 16m tall structure made from metal infrastructure cylinders normally used underground, is assembled to form a striking structure that could be said to resemble a huge arrow that’s encrusted and dissolves on the ground.

The cylinders hold sound systems that transmit audio statements made by LGBT+ activists of their experiences and the sound of their heartbeats, registered as these statements were made. These heartbeat pulses inform the algorithm that designs the pattern of the structure’s night-time lighting and the stories are played in loop, night and day. ‘My heart beats like yours’ holds the colours of the LGBT+ flag along some of the cylinders that spread out from the sculptural core and meander along the ground to serve as public seating.

y heart beats like yours’builds on some of the studio’s past work, which uses digital technologies to shape memories and promotes the role of public works as a means to inspire greater empathy and social awareness in urban settings. At the site there is a sign that identifies the project and invites passersby to send their stories via WhatsApp voice message. Some of these stories will be chosen to integrate the work.

This project was made possible by the support of Intel and National Geographic, as part of the ‘Hack the city’ initiative

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