Our hackathon hall of fame

Ben Storey
Ben Storey May 28, 2021 3 min read

At the beginning of each quarter the Spacemaker team meets at our headquarters in Oslo (or, more recently, over Zoom) to discuss the company’s direction for the next three months. During the five day gathering, we engage in many lively meetings and events in which Spacemakers discuss what you’d expect of any company – culture, employee well-being, professional development, company direction, and snacks. 

Amidst these meetings there is one event we look forward to more than any other: the company-wide hackathon. It’s open to all employees – programmers, customer success managers, designers, or anyone with a creative itch to scratch. Participants dedicate a whole day to realizing some of the most ambitious, fun, and thought-provoking ideas and projects regarding the future of Spacemaker, some of which make it into our final product.

Countless weird and wonderful ideas have been realised as a result of our hackathons, and they all serve as a point of inspiration for future features and improvements. In this post, we celebrate some of the projects – created in a single day – that captured our attention, sparked innovation and support, and became fully integrated into Spacemaker’s design. Welcome to the Spacemaker hackathon hall of fame!

Wind flow animations

During Spacemaker’s winter 2020 hackathon, a group of engineers and data scientists took up the task of representing a 3D wind vector field in the software. This took our wind analyses to a whole new level as users gained a complete understanding of how wind flows in a 3D space. 

The three key results:

Watch the video below to see 3D wind in action!   

Automatic terrain

It may be hard to believe, but there was a time in Spacemaker’s infancy when terrain was not loaded automatically upon the creation of a site. Way back in the spring Hackathon of 2019, a group of engineers and product managers decided to change this. 

They began the task of developing software that automatically loaded terrain, coding and testing away until they ultimately created what has become a staple of the Spacemaker engine. Now whenever you set up a project – in any country in the world – terrain will load in a matter of seconds.  

Here are some of our favorite examples of terrain in Spacemaker:

Pulpit Rock, Norway
Kiruna, Sweden

City Block Generation 

It’s hard to imagine Spacemaker without the city block generation feature – after all, it’s a cornerstone of our generative design engine. However, you may be surprised to find out this all came about as a result of our winter 2018 hackathon, when a brave solo engineer devised a clever way of splitting up sites and filling the sections with city blocks of varying heights. 

What started as an ambitious hackathon project has become an integral part of the success of Spacemaker, and many of our users have saved huge amounts of time by using this tool – instead of designing from scratch, they can quickly fill their site before iterating and refining it.

The prototype of city block generation

City block generation in action

Outdoor Area Sun Graph

At Spacemaker we take the accuracy of our analyses very seriously, and a key part of this is effectively communicating results. In a spring 2020 hackathon, an engineer paired up with one of our industry expert architects to explore the best way to communicate the relationship between an outdoor area and sun requirement. 

Together they produced an effective way of tracking the outdoor area that is directly exposed to the sun over the course of a day. This powerful tool provides an invaluable example of data-driven design, as users can make adjustments to optimize their designs for certain underperforming outdoor areas or specific hours of the day. 

The Outdoor Area Sun Graph in action

The above examples are just a few of the features that were born out of hackathons. Our hackathons are an essential part of our approach to product development. They enable people from across the company to share their perspective, and ensure that we always look for new and creative ways to enhance Spacemaker. 

Most exciting, though, is we never know what brilliant ideas are going to come to fruition next time. We’re already looking forward to the next one!

If your interested in reading more about our Planning Week, which our Hackathon is part of, read our blog here.

Header photo credit: Dstudio Bcn / Unsplash

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