Niels Wouters (1984) is a designer and researcher with a particular interest in identifying architectural qualities and engagement opportunities afforded by digital media in public space. Niels is currently Head of Research for Science Gallery Melbourne, and Research Fellow in the School of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne.
With over a decade of experience in designing urban media, Niels’ work thrives on participatory action-driven approaches. Recent projects led by Niels include The Digital Bricks, the world’s highest resolution interactive media façade that gives voice to First Peoples knowledge; Biometric Mirror, inviting public dialogue to inform ethics of AI and automated decision-making; Stories of Exile, empowering refugees to share personal narratives and supporting intercommunity dialogue; and Encounters, stimulating audience engagement with interactive installations.
While public space is Niels’ natural research and design habitat, Niels’ collaborative work with sci-fi artist and body architect Lucy McRae has been exhibited at global galleries and museums including Science Gallery Melbourne, Science Gallery Dublin, National Gallery of Victoria, Design Museum Den Bosch and Nxt Museum Amsterdam.
Niels is an avid science communicator by way of publications about technology for social good in relevant media outlets and frequent public speaking engagements including for adolescents, young adults, as well as global leaders at the World Economic Forum and World Bank. The creativity and thought-provoking nature of Niels’ work has been the feature of various national and international media. Most recently, this has included pieces in The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC, BBC, The Washington Times, World Economic Forum, Dazed Digital and CNN.
Before permanently migrating to Australia, Niels acquired a PhD in Architectural Engineering (KU Leuven, Belgium, 2016). The doctoral research examined the social and architectural qualities of digital media in public space – particularly relating to the role of screen-based technology and artificial light. Niels holds degrees in Architectural Design, Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction.