The CNN Ecosphere Project

the CNN Ecosphere Project has won Grand Prix for Design at the 2012 Eurobest Awards, adding to the Gold for Interactive at the Epica Awards, Silver Visual Design, Bronze Animation/Motion Graphics at the London International Awards, Bronze Microsite/Website at the Clio Awards, Gold Design Lion, Bronze Cyber Lion and Bronze Promo & Activation Lion at Cannes. The project, online at, was designed to promote CNN International’s coverage of the United Nations COP17 Conference on Climate change held in Durban, South Africa, November 2011. The campaign was relaunched to provide coverage of Rio+20, the UN conference on sustainable development held in Rio de Janeiro, June 20 to 22, 2012.

CNN Ecosphere

Click on the image below to play the Ecosphere case study video.

Click on the image below to play the Rio20+ video.

Ecosphere Mechanics

The ECOSPHERE uses a the 3D platform WebGL to take thousands of tweets from around the world and visualizes them in real time in the form of an evolving digital garden. Anyone sending out tweets that they want included must add the #RIO20 hashtag. Submitted tweets are scanned for keywords and then grouped together into specific topics or discussions. Each tweet stimulates growth in a plant or tree in the garden, forming conversations. New thoughts are planted as seeds, which will grow as similar ideas are shared. The size, color and growth of these plants give users a real-time view of how the global discussion is evolving. At any time in the evolution of the ECOSPHERE, there are up to 30 plants growing on the surface of the sphere, representing the 30 most popular keywords or topics. Users can explore the lush 3D environment by zooming in on the different branches while a separate time line documents the development of the discussions and the ECOSPHERE environment itself. Users are recommended to access the web-based interactive ecosystem with the latest versions of Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari (with WebGL enabled).

Ecosphere Credits

The Ecosphere project was developed at Heimat, Berlin, by executive creative director Guido Heffels, creative directors Myles Lord and Martien Delfgaauw, copywriter Ramin Schmiedekampf, art director Frank Hose, designer Jue Alt, art assistants Jared Leistner, Jorinde Leonhardt and Alexander Suchy, editors Niels Münter and Alexander Suchy, agency producer Jessica Valin.

Production at Minivegas was by creative director Luc Schurgers, executive producer Ellen Utrecht, lead developer Dan Lewis, art director Alexander Brimijoin, web/mobile developer Victor Firsanov, producer Ralph De Haan.

Production at Stinkdigital was by executive producers James Britton, Mark Pytlik, Nils Schwemer, producer Jess Fletcher, working with Mad Hat installation technician Thomas Felkel.