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#networkedurbanism: ‘Physital’ Social Networks

Category: networkedurbanism+⚐ EN

Hyper activated place of connection - Table Talk

Hyper activated place of connection – Table Talk

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism, now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

In this sixth #networkedurbanism post we present to you two projects that apply the concepts of a social network, like the ones that we generally use—twitter, facebook—to the physical world using digital locally-targeted apps or physical objects.

Table Talk

Stacy Morton, with her Table Talk, tried to reconnect the concept of social network to one of the objects where most of the social networking took place in the past, the table. Table Talk is an exploration of how physical, static objects, can be enriched with a layer of digital technology to behave like a physical network where social interaction is made easier by digital means. Her prototype, is focused on the possibility of “engraving” informations—users interests—on the table digital layer, the system then is able to share this information with other tables and therefore other users, connecting them in the physical world. The system also retains the trace of previous conversations and topics and makes them available to future users so that connections can “span over temporalities.” They explain the importance of this in-between as follows “With the increased use of the “in between” place between work and home where individuals come to work independently in public, TableTalk further enhances the social quality of this space. This new typology is a place to work alongside other intellectuals, some of which may share an inherent knowledge base, and connect on mutually beneficial terms. This type of environment not only provides a work space, but starts to break social barriers through place, creating a richer way for people to connect, develop community, provide place for organizing, and therefore become a tool for place making.


The prototype itself is a table equipped with two main functions. The first one is composed of a RGB LED strip embedded at the table strip that changes color depending on the conversation topic so other users can know wich topic is beign discussed around a table, the topic can be chosen simply by touching one of the location specific topics engraved on thesurface. The second main function is a QR code that once scanned can connect a user to the previous conversations that were held in the same place, the user can bring on the conversation and even leave notes for future users.

You can read more about Table Talk on #networkedurbanism.

Hear Here!

Joe Liao and Hansley Yuñez decided to develop Hear Here! after an extensive research on the vast existing locally-targeted communication app market. They found out that none of the existing social networks—in spite of having erased spatial barriers—had explored enough the world of proximal, physical, interactions, and the projects focused on locally-targeted communication have way too many restrictions to be considered real “physical social networks”. Hear Here! is a virtual discussion board, based on the user’s physical location, that connects people to their own neighbourhood or region, creating a sense of place in cyberspace.

They explain how it works like this: “we decided to develop our own solution by creating a discussion board that connects people to their own neighbourhood or region (…) if a user wishes, they may join discussions in locations other than their own which may have relevance to them.  Just as populations shift and migrate in the real-world, users may come and go, leaving one thread to join another,  or they may continue to follow threads based in their previous location, in order to maintain contact. Hear Here! is entirely user generated. Its users create both the content and the geometry of the places to which these topics are tagged.
Deeply Hear Here! is a virtual tool designed to foster both local community and provide an avenue for transient populations to engage with locals and with each other conciliating the digital layer with the physical world.

This project is now a startup, in 2013 was selected to be further developed at the Harvard Innovation Lab and was semifinalist for the MIT 100k entrepreneurship competition, you can read more about it on #networkedurbanism.

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#networkedurbanism: Your Digital Opinion is Important to us

Category: networkedurbanism+⚐ EN

Place Pixel

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism, now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

In this fifth #networkedurbanism post we present to you two projects that share the aim to enrich the physical space with a digital layer, the connection between real and virtual worlds was one of the recurrent themes in the studio and these two projects truly create a strong link between them allowing people to express their opinion about the physical city using digital means.

Place Pixel

Benjamin Scheerbarth, Scott Liang, and Thomas McCourt didn’t even know each other before the #networkedurbanism studio, now they have made a startup out of their project, involving two full-time software developers, and their expectations about future developments are really exciting. Place Pixel draws inspiration both from the situationists theories, the dérive, and the need for subjectivity in imaging and knowing the city; and from the smart city paradigm that seeks to revolutionize the way we collect, quantify, and analyze data about the city, allowing for a depth of insight and degree of responsiveness that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago. How can we systematically collect and analyze the subjective impressions and emotive responses to the built environment? Place Pixel is a web-based app that explores the human layer of the city: the entire city is divided into a geo-referenced grid, each cell of the grid—a pixel—takes a vote at the press of a button, the vote may contain a comment and might concern a specific aspect of urban life.

The application then renders the collected data—the layer of likeability—in a form that is thoroughly compatible with the wealth of objective information that smart cities already collect. Their idea is that: “users can see real-time urban conditions around them, from popular places to more ephemeral phenomena such as festivals or demonstrations. Through following thematic pioneers, one can chase street art, dog-friendly places downtown, specialty shopping, or create a follower base oneself.” The resulting matrix of data can be used in many ways, once integrated with other objective data and tied to real time and space, it can be useful to explore and to understand the city in a deeper way, “planners and designers can explore the complex systems of interactions within the city in entirely new ways, gaining unprecedented insight into what really creates the good in a city.”

Screenshots of a prototype

Screenshots of a prototype

New videos and animations can be found here, on their official website, and on #networkedurbanism, Place Pixel has been developed with the MIT, the MIT SENSEable city lab, and the Northeastern University, it was the basis for a winning proposal at the ABX2013, it is now being developed at the Harvard Innovation Lab, and was selected for the 2013 Harvard President’s Challenge.

New Statistical Commons

Robert Pietrusko’s research is about the role of contemporary public space, in the past, squares and streets have been the places where popular opinions were expressed, nowadays “the representation of community is often constructed from afar, with little involvement from the public body, in the form of statistics.” His idea is to reassert the role of public space and people in the creation of the statistics and the demographics by “changing the scale and aesthetic of gathering public opinion.”

In the New Statistical Commons, subway turnstiles are playfully turned into an interactive surveying tool, where individuals can pose questions to their neighbors, with real-time feedback and likewise construct statistical narratives,” in this way the public space is reenergized as a venue for collective analysis, results are immediately visualized “in a narrative fashion that cause inhabitants to reflect on their condition and their community.” The device was installed at the GSD using the entrance double doors as turnstiles and, using a small test population, it demonstrated the validity of the concepts it is based on: “the tool generates narratives from simple yes or no questions, draws in additional data feeds for richer stories and lets the student body pose questions to their peers through an e-mail interface—ultimately receiving their results back in the form of a simple report.”

More posts by Robert Pietrusko on #networkedurbanism.

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#networkedurbanism: Better Communities, Better Places

Category: networkedurbanism+⚐ EN

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism; now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

In this fourth #networkedurbanism post we present to you three projects focused on social issues and placemaking, their main goal is trying to involve the local communities in the construction process of the future of the cities.

My Little Public

Kai Liao’s project began as an attempt to encourage a discussion to form a new concept of public space, acknowledging that we have a different perception of public space now in the information age, My Little Public is not criticizing current public space typologies but “is a project that attempts to search for the new potential of future urban spaces, in an age where our physical connection is no longer required.” At first she focused her attention on vacant lots in downtown Boston and drew the attention of some local organizations—like  STREET LAB—which eventually suggested her to apply her ideas on a smaller and closed network such a public school. With the help of a fourth grade teacher, she adapted the program so it could operate inside the school as a four-week experience.

My Little Public at Quincey School

She describes the steps as follows: “First, we introduced three different operation sites to the students, educating them to recognize the nature of the site with the prospect that the proper program be introduced to the site[...] Second, we allowed each of the kids to utilize their own imagination to propose their wishes for the site they chose [...] During the third week, they selected the six best proposals out of the original 24, and formed six official campaign groups. Each group created a campaign speech [...] Finally, the winner, Coco-Nade was carried out during a lunch break—the students sold hot cocoa and lemonade for 50 cents. In total, they raised 110 dollars in 40 minutes, and the profit was donated to a homeless organization.” My Little Public showed how fourth-graders are aware of their environment and the social issues around them, how they can distinguish what is possible from what is not, and finally taught us that fostering children’s desire to cultivate an engaging and livable environment on the long term might lead to a new concept of public space.

You can read more about My Little Public on #networkedurbanism.

Dot Future

Kate Balug’s project for #networkedurbanism studio is part of a wider action she is carrying on with the Dorchester’s community. Dorchester is a large, historical, and multicultural neighborhood which is the object of a $15-million city planning initiative to improve its main corridor, Dorchester ave. Dot Future main point is “to first clarify the initiative’s intentions to the public, then generate discussion among a diverse cross-section of the population about how to maximize socio-economic benefits from this City-designed infrastructure plan. This would finally inform a series of interventions along the avenue that would operate as a fragmented monument to the past, present, and future of Dorchester. The effort hoped to enhance the sense of community agency over the area’s future.”

Dot Future Kate Balug

At first, the project faced many difficulties due to the large number of communities and organizations involved and the lack of engagement they had with each other and with the politics. The author herself had to work hard within the community to gain enough legitimacy but many organizations, despite being pleasant, were not interested to work with a student on an undefined project. Things turned out when she approached the local newspaper, the Dorchester ReporterShe wrote a piece providing informations about the planning initiative and resident’s ideas for Dot Ave. From that point things went better, she was invited to lead a community workshop that explored local issues and ways to address them, and later came My Dot Tour, a multimedia walking tour of Fields Corner, an area along Dorchester Ave. led by local youth and featuring their commentary on the past, present and future of Fields Corner.

This project is still going on with the Dorchester community, you can read her posts on #networkedurbanism, and her articles on the newspapers here and here.

Community (Re) Engagement Project

Community (re)engagement project explores the potentiality of design in community empowerment, community engagement, and participatory planning in Villa Victoria, a subsidized federal housing project with a large Puerto Rican community. The community was founded in the 1960s-1970s thanks to urban activism which granted the community itself control over the design of the housing project, its development, and the future maintenance of a high level of social capital in the community. During the last years, however, the community faced a series of transformations that they could not control. Through a series of workshops and public discussions the project aimed to identify the issue of concern and reengage residents with their community.

Three different age groups were involved in the workshops. The workshop with the residents showed that there were communication problems: “fear of displacement translated into dialogues with racist overtones, which created problems for any future interventions” . so an urban workshop was planned to help them channel their frustration in a positive way. Teenagers were interested in addressing urban violence so “they designed an urban installation in a park where many crimes have occurred” but unfortunately due to bad weather it was not realized. Children from the Escuelita Boriken worked on the safety of public space and specially walkways. As Irene Figueroa says “we were reenacting the origins of the community, which was founded as the result of urban activism.”

Discover more about the project on #networkedurbanism.

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Ecosistema urbano selected for the second round of the Voronezh Sea Closed Competition

Category: competitions+ecosistema urbano+eu:live+news+⚐ EN

Voronezh and the reservoir - image via prorus.net - click to visit source

Voronezh—which became popular in the late 80s because of a controversial UFO incident—is a city of over 1 million inhabitants, situated 500 km south of Moscow. It is located on the banks of the Voronezh River, which in 1972 was transformed into the Voronezh Reservoir or “the Voronezh Sea” as it is called by the inhabitants —a huge lake, 30 km long and 2 km wide. You can read more about the history of the reservoir here.

During the following decades the population enjoyed the cool water during the hot Voronezh summer, but in 1992 the authorities labelled it as “not fit for swimming” as a result of the increasingly polluted water.

Click on the image to see some cool panoramas of the Voronezh Sea

Click on the image to see some cool panoramas of the Voronezh Sea!

The Department of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Voronezh region recently decided to organize a competition in order to develop a strategy for the future of the Voronezh Reservoir. The competition consists of two parts:

  • An Open Ideas competition meant to gather ideas that show the potential of the lake for urban and nature development.
  • A Closed Competition for teams of landscape architects, urbanists and ecologists that should combine ideas about possible future uses of the lake with technologies for cleaning it up. The strategy should include both a project and proposals for implementation.

We are glad to communicate that we have been selected among the four finalists of the closed competition. Over the following weeks we will be working hard on putting together a creative approach and a comprehensive strategy in a great presentation. More news soon!

Related link: Report of the jury

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Claire Cassanet | eu collaborators

Category: colaboradores+ecosistema urbano+⚐ EN

Today we introduce you to Claire Cassanet, a young landscape engineer who just left the office after four months of internship. We worked and learned together, we cooked together, we enjoyed every day in her cheerful company. We already miss you, Claire! Read on as she describes her experience with us…

Claire!

Claire!

continue reading

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#networkedurbanism: active awareness

Category: networkedurbanism+⚐ EN

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism. Now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

Today’s three projects are focused on the knowledge—or the lack of it—that we have of our environment and the resources we use. Believing that many poblematic behaviors we have are caused by our low level of awareness, these projects try to find a way to communicate effectively their content and to initiate discussions and reflexions which may eventually lead to environmental improvements.

Carbon Counting

James Perakis’ main target during #networkedurbanism studio was to raise awareness about our own carbon footprint, especially in the GSD among designers which have “a responsibility to create an efficient and responsible built environment.” Through visualizing—both virtually and physically—the energy network and the impact our buildings have on the environment, educating the public, and stimulating the discussion, he writes, we can potentially correct some of our most environmentally problematic behaviors caused by our unawareness. His first experiments involved animation as a medium to communicate how our energy network is operated and how energy is transported from the point of resource extraction to the point of consumption, but this was still too far away from everyday behaviors to produce a change.

Putting into practice the lesson learned with the first animation he used more concrete and immediate data collected from actual buildings to develop the second step of his project. He decided to play an animation presenting Gund Hall—and other Harvard campus buildings—energy consumption in terms of both traditional measurements such as a kilowatt-hour for electricity, and comparative figures such as number of houses powered per year, alongside with a physical device showing real-time emissions.

You can read about the whole project in the #networkedurbanism post and see another James’ interesting video about gas extraction here.

Trashy Behavior

Trashy behavior is a project that investigates how personal decisions can create a network of consequences in our cities. With the help of behavioral science, Josh Westerhold, began considering diverse options for his project until he noticed how hard was to decide where to throw his trash at the Chauhaus, the GSD Cafeteria. He began to observe the pattern scientifically, filmed the trash station during several lunch rushes, and found out that many people showed signs of confusion; a 2010 waste audition also confirmed that, if confused, people chose the easiest option: the trash bin.

Josh Westerhold Trashy Behavior

The first step, he says, was to redesign the trash station at the Chauhausby simplifying the display to show only what went in the Recycle and Compost bins and attaching the negative association of the giant word—Landfill—to the trash bin.” But it was not enough, using behavioral techniques, he started a public awareness campaign in the GSD using the slogan “Trash is a Choice” and the hashtag #trashlesstuesdays with the intention to prompt the conversation both in the physical and virtual realms. Later he recorded again the trash station at the Chauhaus observing a more efficient use of the station and also conducted a waste audit in the Pit at the GSD noting that “the interventions were successful in producing a material behavior change, as we saw a 40% increase in composting accuracy and a 140% increase in recycling accuracy!

You can read more about this project on #networkedurbanism.

Know Your Water

The water infrastructure is one of the several complex networks that lie under our cities; we don’t know much about them and we seldom question ourselves where does the water—or electricity, or gas—come from neither where does it go after its use. With her project, Karyssa Halstead, wants to enhance the general knowledge about Boston’s extensive water infrastructure and at the same time explore new methods of communicating these concepts. After spending the first part of the semester understanding all of the pieces of the potable water and sewers system in Boston she produced an animation to convey all the information she had collected, the origin of Boston’s water, its average consumption, the energetic costs we face to transport it, make it potable and then its treatment.

Many interesting themes came out from her research but “perhaps most importantly, the understanding that our water usage is part of a larger, connected system is crucial.  Our use affects ecosystems on both sides of the chain, and if the awareness of where our water will go can be achieved, then perhaps we can start to make smarter choices about our usage and what we put down the drain.

Read an extensive post about the project on #networkedurbanism

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Mad(e) in Mumbai | Urban practice in India

Category: architecture+urbanism+⚐ EN

Mumbai

In 2009 we had the pleasure to lead the final thesis projects of a group of international students taking the Master in Advanced Architecture at the IAAc —Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia.

Among them, we met Kalpit Ashar, who developed as final thesis a project in his home city Mumbai, dealing with informality and social processes. I am happy today to introduce you to the work of MAD(E) IN MUMBAI, and the office established by him together with his partner Mayuri Sisodia. In their own words:

Made in Mumbai

Image: The Mumbai Report

The office provides comprehensive design services in the fields of public institutions, high density housing, environmental infrastructure, community design, landscapes and territorial planning. MAD(E) IN MUMBAI takes its shape in the madness of Mumbai city. This crazy patchwork of ideas, experiences and materiality becomes a repository and laboratory for the studio. It is a departure point for its speculation and practice.

Made in Mumbai

Made in Mumbai

Urban repository – Images: Mayuri Sisodia, Jacob Wilson and Ming Deng

They work closely with the chemistry of the city to discover potential fields of operation. The belief of the practice lies in looking beyond the visible for the unseen and for absurdities of things and places.

Together they have won many national and International design competitions which include Flood resilient Housing Design for Gorakhpur, Revitalisation of Banganga Crematorium, and Regional cultural centre for sustainable community by IAHH and Kalanagar traffic junction Urban Design competition by BMW Guggenheim lab.

Made in Mumbai

Aqueous commune, flood resilient habitats in the city of Gorakhpur

For example, Aqueous communes are flood resilient habitats in the city of Gorakhpur, a city in mid-Gangetic belt. They are Community built initiations that accommodate changing rhythms of Rapti river and make them part of everyday life of its inhabitant. They change imagination of water from an enemy to a friend and celebrate it and make peace with it through design. These aqueous communes multiply along the landscape to contribute to its resilience and develop into an intimately stitched neighbourhood.

Other works by Mad(e) in Mumbai

Other works by Mad(e) in Mumbai

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Sostenibilidad y movimientos sociales: entrevista a David Harvey | eutv

Category: eutv+sostenibilidad+sustainability+⚐ EN+⚐ ES

eutv_654

Como os contábamos en un post anterior, hemos actualizado www.ecosistemaurbano.tv, nuestro canal de vídeos sobre sostenibilidad urbana, integrándolo con nuestro canal de Youtube. Aprovechando esta circunstancia, vamos a rescatar una serie de vídeos, principalmente entrevistas, que hemos re-descubierto y que aún nos parecen interesantes a día de hoy.

Hoy os traemos las respuestas de David Harvey a nuestras preguntas cuando, en octubre de 2009, le preguntamos su opinión sobre el concepto de sostenibilidad.

Harvey es uno de los grandes de la geografía moderna, un pensador e investigador de referencia, con un posicionamiento claro contra las desigualdades e injusticias generadas por el sistema capitalista. Precisamente con una de nuestras citas favoritas de David Harvey comenzamos el artículo Network Design: Dream Your City que publicamos hace poco en la Harvard Design Magazine:

El derecho a la ciudad es mucho más que la libertad individual de acceder a los recursos urbanos: es el derecho a cambiarnos a nosotros mismos cambiando la ciudad. Es, de hecho, un derecho común más que uno individual, ya que esta transformación depende inevitablemente del ejercicio del poder colectivo para reformar los procesos de creación de ciudad. La libertad de hacer y rehacer nuestras ciudades y a nosotros mismos es, sostengo yo, uno de los derechos humanos más valiosos y olvidados.

Es asombrosa la validez casi profética de lo que dice en esta entrevista en concreto, especialmente viendo cómo ha evolucionado el panorama desde entonces. En esta breve entrevista Harvey enlaza la sostenibilidad con la necesidad de emprender proyectos de transformación desde la sociedad civil, llamándonos a actuar desde esa posición:

Mi mensaje es: Pensad en ello, activaos, empezad a trabajar de verdad con los movimientos sociales porque de ahí es de donde van a venir los cambios.

En estos 5 años han sucedido muchas cosas —Primavera Árabe, #15M, #occupy, etc— que confirman la importancia del impulso social como lo veía Harvey: como elemento regenerador de la sociedad y su posicionamiento en relación con el mundo.

Sin más, os dejamos con el vídeo —subtítulos en español incluidos—, ¡disfrutadlo!

 

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#networkedurbanism: turning waste into resources

Category: networkedurbanism+⚐ EN

Inventoring in Amazon warehouse

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism, now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

In this second #networkedurbanism post we present to you three projects that deal with the ever more urgent theme of waste reduction, recycle and re-use. These projects took the city of Boston and Harvard’s institutions as a test field for their development but you can easily image the impact of their ideas in any urban environment: turning waste into a new resource and correcting the waste management cycle to reach a cradle-to-cradle level of efficiency. continue reading

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#networkedurbanism: Bicycle Culture

Category: networkedurbanism+⚐ EN

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism. Now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

Here at ecosistema urbano we often talk about urban biking (e.g. here, here) and we are also developing our own ideas to improve both cyclists life and urban quality, like in Get a Bike; but bicycle culture is a growing trend also in the United States (a nice infographic here) and #networkedurbanism students have explored different aspects of it. Biking and urbanism share much more than just cycle lanes; a student used the bike as a personal air quality monitor device; another one developed a device to map road conditions and draw cyclist-targeted maps; a third one focused on the problem of the increasing number of bike thefts.

Actual Air

In Actual Air Michael Styczynski develops a low cost DIY device to monitor air quality that can be mounted on bicycles. He observed that the infrastructure of air-monitoring devices in Boston provides a misleading portrait of air quality because they are generally installed in places that are not so significant to people (e.g. on the top of a building). Using the bike as a means to carry his device, he plans to monitor the air quality of the daily environment we live in and, through that, to raise the awareness and create a network of people interested in the problem. As he says “the data should be directly connected to how people experience urban space, and should reflect the variety of experiences people have within the city.

Actual Air

In his own words the ultimate goal of the project “is to promote exchange among users of the device, and to encourage the development of a robust and extensive network of interested individuals. The prototypes thus become generators that can catalyze the imagination of a wider audience. This results from the flexibility of the project which allows it to be  adapted to the interests of different individuals and subcultures within the broader community of bicycle enthusiasts. In this way the practice of data capture is revolutionized by collective, yet individualized research“.
You can read about the whole project in the #networkedurbanism post and you can see a video of the device tested on the road here.

iBike Boston

Andrew Leonard decided to begin his studio experience with a simple idea: “go out and explore Boston.” He had lived and worked in Boston for 8 years but during his exploration of the city he found that, even if Boston has been making great strides to become a more cyclable city, going around by bike wasn’t always easy. He found many obstacles, and a general lack of bicycle infrastructure. Trying to make his rides easier he began to look at maps, both cycle specific and common digital maps, but he could not find specific information about the street conditions, bicycle lanes when existing were just colour coded lines transposed on top of street centerlines, and generally he found that maps were too simplified and diagrammatic to help cyclists.

The iBike project is a tool to draw a thicker and more informative layer on maps using a bike mounted sensor he designed and built, the sensor collects two series of geo-located data: micro-topography and speed. These two parameters, which are two major factors in the comfort of a ride, are then drawn on maps  that “provide the cyclist with a layer of information absent in existing cycle maps that relates directly to the human experience.” Using the technology embedded in smart phones the project may be further developed into a crowd-sourcing app: “iBike can redraw the city based on the experience of cycling temporally, showing conditions as they change. The maps have the ability to evolve as roads change, as construction begins or ends, or even diurnally, so that cyclists can have a better understanding of what the riding conditions are likely to be at any given time.
iBike was selected for further development by the “Harvard Innovation Lab” and was finalist for the “2013 President’s Challenge,” you can read about the whole design process in the #networkedurbanism post.

Bikenapped

Lulu Li focused on a trickier aspect of the growing bicycle culture; the significant growth in cycling correlates with another phenomenon: an increase in bike thefts. Stolen bicycles are difficult to recover and bike thefts are also difficult to investigate, so victims are frequently left alone and helpless to face this crime. Bikenapped is an online platform that through gathering a community of individual voices aims to raise awareness and to “speak with a collective voice to shed light on the problem, and work together to find solutions.” On the website you can report your stolen bike on a map and share your story with other victims to participate in a user-generated database of bike thefts in Boston, connecting with your neighbors and community and sharing your story empowers you to act, to demand for better safety measures in your area and to be more vigilant.

bikenapped sticker

Bikenapped seeks to connect the digital realm and the urban environment, when you report a theft on the website you can print and “post a notice at the physical place of the theft to warn others of what had happened. The information is not relevant on the Internet alone, it is relevant to all the people who use the spaces where these thefts happen.”
The reaction to Bikenapped has been extremely positive, since it launched, bikenapped.com has been featured in Metro.us and BostInno, as well as several bicycling-specific blogs and websites. The website had over 2,500 unique visitors within the first 12 days, many from beyond the borders of Boston/Cambridge, all the way from Portland and California. Read about the whole process on #networkedurbanism

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Looking for love again | A creative community project in Alaska

Category: placemaking+urbanism+⚐ EN

‘Looking for Love Again’ is a community development project implemented by the Taiwanese American artist Candy Chang who was invited on 2011 by the Alaska Design Forum to create a public art project on the tallest building in Fairbanks city. The Polaris Building, a landmark of downtown Fairbanks, was during the past an apartment complex, then a hotel, and now it has been abandoned for more than a decade. continue reading

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Travelling Ideas of Open Space Design and Planning | Ecosistema Urbano lecturing in Copenhagen

Category: events+news+⚐ EN

World in Denmark 2014

Next June 12 Belinda Tato will be lecturing in Copenhagen at the 10th International ‘World in Denmark’ Conference, which is hosted by the University of Copenhagen and carries the title ‘Nordic Encounters Travelling Ideas of Open Space Design and Planning’.

The lecture, entitled ‘From ego-design, to eco-design towards network design’ fits among the proposed topics of liveability, welfare and democracy. Belinda will explain the office’s approach and experiences based on the projects we have developed in the Scandinavian countries and many other places across the globe.

Here is a brief description of the topic of the conference:

Landscape architects and urban designers from Denmark and the other Nordic countries have increasingly become exporters of design solutions to places like Beijing, New York and Christchurch, while Copenhagen repeatedly receives awards for its liveability. Nordic planning is often promoted as particularly human, ecologically sustainable and democratic.

However, looking beyond the immediate branding effect, what themes and values, methods and challenges are current in Nordic urban space design and planning in these years? Where are the gaps between imaginary and reality? How does the  nordicness relate to what is going on in other regions and cultures and what does it potentially have to offer? Which movements, paradoxes, conflicts and challenges exist? Where are the blind alleys? And how do these current trends reflect traditions of design and placemaking?

The issue goes beyond Denmark and the Nordic countries. It concerns what it means to intervene in cities and landscapes in a global era. What happens when western designers work in places whose local languages are new to them? How do general ideas about improving cities migrate and mutate, synergize and conflict in the encounter with specific contexts? What are the potentials and losses of producing traditions – such as the Danish or Nordic – in open space design and planning?

Interested? Check the official site and the programme (PDF)

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Datea: we are all “dateros” l Social Toolbox

Category: social toolbox+⚐ EN

Screenshot of the homepage, datea.pe

Screenshot of the homepage, datea.pe

Website: www.datea.pe
Types: Platform
Topics: Urban issues in general | Mobility and accessibility | Public spaces


Datea, previously known as Todos somos dateros, is a public digital platform, which fosters citizens’ participation in the definition of problems and proposals for the improvement of Lima’s living conditions.

It is an independent project, developed by and from the civil society, and one of the first and more singular ones of its kind. It was born in 2010 thanks to a citizens’ initiative, and it was developed by the social enterprise La Factura in collaboration with Ciudad Nuestra.

The Datea project responds to the context of transformation that the city of Lima is living. Like many other capital cities Lima is facing urban transportation problems due to an excessive use of cars and unsustainable activities of informal transportation businesses, with consequent congestion and pollution. The platform applies relatively recent information technologies which, combined with campaigns in public spaces, create an innovative channel for participation. continue reading

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Empoderamiento y TICs | Entrevista a ecosistema urbano en empodera.org

Category: colaboraciones+cultura abierta+ecosistema urbano+internet+open culture+publicaciones+publications+social software+social toolbox+software social+⚐ EN+⚐ ES

dreamhamar.app por Ecosistema Urbano

dreamhamar.app por Ecosistema Urbano

Hoy publicamos una entrevista que nos realizaron desde empodera.org, una plataforma de impulso para personas e iniciativas que utilizan las tecnologías desde un punto de vista social e innovador para hacer una sociedad más inclusiva y empoderada.

“Ecosistema Urbano: diseñando lugares para mejorar la auto organización de los ciudadanos, la interacción comunitaria y su relación con el medio ambiente”

Acceder a la entrevista en empodera.org

La entrevista se incluyó en la publicación Ciberoptimismo: Conectados a una actitud (pág. 287), una selección de entrevistas y experiencias sobre cómo las tecnologías han cambiado definitivamente nuestra interacción con diferentes temas (procomún, nuevas formas de economía, plataformas abiertas para todos, educación, software libre, transparencia, open government, participación ciudadana, sostenibilidad, etc.).

Aquí podéis descargar el libro español-inglés bajo licencia Creative Commons:
Ciberoptimismo: Conectados a una actitud – Ciberoptimism: connected to an attitude
empodera.org es una iniciativa de la Fundación Cibervoluntarios.

¡Que lo disfrutéis!

The launch of dreamhamar.app. - photo: Christoffer Horsfjord Nilsen

The launch of dreamhamar.app by Ecosistema Urbano – Photo: Christoffer Horsfjord Nilsen

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LibreLigne | Urban acupuncture in Libreville, Gabon

Category: city+competitions+ecosistema urbano+landscape+news+urbanism+⚐ EN

Concept draft of the piers as urban catalyzers

Concept drawing of the piers as landmarks

Ecosistema Urbano was recently selected as one of the five finalists in a competition of ideas for the waterfront (Bord de Mer) of Libreville, capital city of Gabon. We were selected by the committee of the Agence Nationale de Grand Travaux du Gabon among many other proposals. In their own words, the proposal “has strong linkages to existing urban systems, improves coastline’s connections and celebrates Libreville culture and history.” Here is a brief descripton of the project:

The main goal of our proposal is to reunite Libreville with the seashore, and extend the life of the city to the waterfront in some specific points. This would be achieved through operations of urban regeneration, adjusted to the existing and to the specific cultural, sociological and economical context. The proposal concentrates visual impact, identity and activity in five nodes, instead of spreading them too thin along the promenade.

Plan of the coastal line of Libreville, in two sections

Plan of the coastal line of Libreville, in two sections

Those five pier-like structures (jetées) are a great way of getting closer to the water, of having a unique view of the city and at the same time of providing space for programs that could work as catalysers of the urban life. They act as unique landmarks, breaking the regularity of the very long promenade and facilitating the orientation of citizens. These points of “urban acupuncture” would drag attention and pull the urban life of Libreville to the seashore, providing a new space for citizens to interact.

Vertical section of the biggest 'jetée'

Section of the biggest ‘jetée’

Section of one of the piers

Section of one of a longer and lower pier structure

Section through the beach

Section through a beach area, where the promenade is reduced to the minimum

The locations and uses of the piers are defined in relation to the city: to its flows, to the activity of the closest neighbourhoods and to the most relevant uses, buildings or public spaces nearby. Following that close relation with the surroundings, each pier has a singular character defined by the size, the shape, the vegetation, the dominant colors and other design factors, but also by the specific set of activities that can be performed in them. This way, we have the pier of Nature, Education, Culture and Music, Local Identity and Water.

One of the pier structures evolving along the day

The use of the structures would change along the day

On the other hand, the linear promenade itself changes the configuration of its section depending, again, on the surroundings. Some key elements are defined in that section: the waterfront boulevard for (unavoidable) motorized traffic, a series of landscape markers (associated with energy production and visibilization), a coastal bike lane, a waterfront promenade, an urban appropriable fringe… This elements are combined, stretched or shrinked, generating diverse profiles and multiple areas of interest.

One of the "pelican" crossings in front of a pier

The crossings in front of the piers would be shared areas for pedestrian and motorists

Thus, while the promenade is kept simple, regular and clean, these structures act as landmarks, dividing the seafront in more aprehensible, walkable sections, and marking the coast like ‘signal fires’ or lighthouses: they provide visual clues to help the passer-by understand his exact location at a glance.

View from one of the piers

View from one of the piers

In addition, based on the rapidly rising mobile market penetration in Gabon, and as a bet on the potential of hyperlocalized digital networks for urban life, the proposal includes a digital application that would work as a geolocated and participatory cultural agenda for the waterfront, showcasing the activities along the line, attracting citizens and visitors, allowing them to search and follow events, and acting as a geographic map or guide.

Tentative screenshots of the application

Tentative mockup for the application, based on the previous proposal for ‘BikeLine’

This proposal was developed in collaboration with the landscape architecture office Uberland.

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Peuplade, connecting neighbors l Social toolbox

Category: social toolbox+⚐ EN

Website: www.peuplade.fr
Types: Platform
Issues: Encounters | Neighborhood initiatives and public events | Commons and services | Sharing culture and experiences | Exchange of knowledge and skills


Peuplade (“Tribe” in French) is an experience launched in Paris in 2003 in the Epinettes (XVII°) district.

Thanks to the enthusiastic involvement of its first partners, Peuplade gained popularity and success, and is nowadays used all over France, Belgium and Switzerland. It is a social project founded by “Les Ingénieurs Sociaux” (“social engineers”), an enterprise which deals with the development of tools intended to offer people, associations, enterprises and institutions the means to give a more human face to interpersonal relationships, to society and to economy.

Peuplade is a space for encounters, exchanges, innovation and initiatives, offered to inhabitants of a same street, neighbourhood or city. continue reading

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SeeClickFix, a powerful digital tool for the collective management of cities | Social Toolbox

Category: social toolbox+⚐ EN

 

seeclickfix

Website: www.seeclickfix.com
Type: Application | platform
Issues: Street conditions | Accessibility | Quality of life


SeeClickFix follows a similar concept to that of the recently featured FixMyStreet and ReparaCiudad, but on steroids! It is a highly integrated digital platform which focuses on issues of quality-of-life, from simple problems regarding street and environmental conditions to more complex issues about the health of citizens and communities. continue reading

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#networkedurbanism: design thinking initiatives for a better urban life

Category: ecosistema urbano+networkedurbanism+publications+urban social design+⚐ EN

Last year we introduced a pink #networkedurbanism banner on the right hand side of our blog. Although we briefly mentioned it in previous posts, we never formally wrote about this banner and what is behind it.

networkedurbanism

networkedurbanism

What is it about?

#networkedurbanism is a series of courses we – Jose Luis Vallejo and Belinda Tato- have taught for the last four years in different Universities:  Harvard GSD (2010, 2012, 2013), University of Alghero (2013) and Portland State University (Winter 2014).

#networkedurbanism studio aims to bring interdisciplinary problem solving to the forefront of our work by working on real-world issues and providing an alternative to the traditional way of designing cities. Networked Urbanism blends critical theory with hands-on practice, progressive thinking with social engagement, and research with reflection in action. The studio provides the framework for participants to find their own interests, their own means of expression, their own paths.

Due to the nature of this course, the results and outputs are extremely different as the topics selected by students mainly respond to their own interests and aspirations.

#networkedurbanism design thinking methodology

The ‘toolbox’ of the course includes 10 guidelines:

01. EXPLORE: a topic in the intersection between personal interest and “real” society needs
02. RESEARCH: become an expert in the topic.
03. NETWORK: Create a network (from citizens to experts). Explore the official side but also bottom up visions.
04. SHARE: confront and experience ideas outside your own desk, feedback is a treasure.
05. OPENNESS: start with a detailed plan and be prepared to disrupt it responding to its natural development.
06. THINK BIG: Design a strategic overall vision.
07. START SMALL: Focus on a small scale design that has the potential of the bigger scale.
08. ACT NOW!: Prototype and implement into real life at least a small but significant part of the design.
09. COMMUNICATE: reach a broader audience.
10. BEYOND: How can I develop my project beyond this term?

With this approach, and during the different courses, we have obtained great results. We are aware that working with real issues, real problems and creating connections with professionals is quite challenging, especially considering the time constraint of a term. But at the same time we truly believe that getting out of the designers’ comfort zone, and being exposed to real life, having to provide ambitious but feasible solutions give the students the skills and power to better face reality after they finish this stage of their education. Moreover, some of the ideas/projects developed within these studios continue beyond the course, in many cases becoming the professional thread for the students, who naturally grow as entrepreneurs.

Documenting processes and publishing results

In order to document the processes and the results of the different courses we created, with help of Wes Thomas and Montera34, a specific website where students could upload images, texts, documents and videos along the different stages of development of their projects.

You can browse the contents by their authors —to follow a specific project—, by courses, or by keywords that summarize all different topics or issues the projects have been addressing.

Networked Urbanism website - clic to visit

Networked Urbanism website – clic to visit

We are currently working on a book that will be published by Harvard GSD as a compilation of the projects produced at the studios we taught there in the Urban Planning and Design Department.

On a shorter term we are going to produce a series of posts which summarize some of the projects developed. Some of the topics that are more present are: PLACEMAKING, DIGITAL, MAPPING, WASTE, MOBILITY, RESOURCES, AWARENESS, EDUCATION.

In the meantime, we invite you to surf the web to see the results, that we hope you find inspiring:

networkedurbanism.com

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Ziudad, citizen buzzing to be listened to | Social toolbox

Category: social toolbox+⚐ EN

ziudad

Website: www.ziudad.es
Type: Online platform
Issues: Streets’ conditions | Mobility and accessibility | Social issues and public services | Environment | Sharing culture and experiences


Ziudad is a digital platform whose goal is the common “definition” of cities by their citizens. It is a social network that facilitates the communication between citizens and municipalities, between consumers and enterprises. In Ziudad citizens can collaborate for the notification and resolution of urban problems, can directly communicate problems to the municipality, make a complaint or propose ideas for the improvement and development of their city and its quality of life.

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A recreation of our ‘Reggio school’ by Carlos Mazón | eu collaborators

Category: arquitectura+colaboradores+work in progress+⚐ EN

Remember the Reggio Children experimental educational center we were invited to design back in 2012? We haven’t published anything about it in a while, but we can assure you that behind the scenes the wheels are turning very fast, and the construction project is almost being finished at this very moment.

As a great excuse to break this silence —we’ll be showing more about it soon—, today we want to share with you the result of a brief collaboration with architect and architectural illustrator Carlos Mazón (@imcarlosmazon), who created this inspiring image for the project:

Recreation of the experimental educational centre in Reggio Emilia - by Carlos Mazón

Recreation of the experimental educational centre in Reggio Emilia – by Carlos Mazón

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Planning for protest | Things we could learn from #15M in Madrid

Category: ecosistema urbano+publications+⚐ EN

Planning for protest publication - by Project Projects

Planning for protest publication by Project Projects

As we told you in a previous post, last year we were invited to join an exhibition and publication called Planning for protest. Among 11 other architectural offices in different cities across the globe, the people from Project Projects invited us to examine the role of architecture in shaping, defining, or limiting the flow of protest within our respective cities. continue reading

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Urban Yoga | Space Potential: The luscious ingredient of architecture

Category: architecture+creativity+research+⚐ EN

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Urban Yoga is an architectural experiment, discussing space in relation to human and architecture, if we perceive it with our whole being: with our muscles and bones while moving through space.

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Urban Yoga is a new methodology, which I have been developing and discussing. It is a combination of various techniques and fields that I have been, in addition to architecture, professionally involved in for the past ten years. Thus, I have been living, studying and working between three continents: Europe, Australia and USA.

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Urban Yoga is challenging the idea to diminish the role of plans in spatial analysis and planning and acclaiming the role of individual’s physical interaction with space through movement. What is more, it is acknowledging the importance of Spatial Sensuousness: information transmitted through senses, intuition, contemplation and reason.

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

I see the potential of contemporary architecture in focusing more on user’s needs and less on the investor’s demands. In such way architecture will become more sensible towards an individual, who is the locus of perception, experience and interpretation of space. Every spatial intervention affects the way we live, think and function, therefore, architects need to understand their influence on environment and society and take the responsibility for the effects of their actions.

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

I propose an interdisciplinary and multimedia approach to architectural design and planning, complementing our architectural knowledge and expanding our consciousness with methods and tools from other fields. Also, those that on the first glance have little or no connection to architecture. Actually, these are the ones that I find especially interesting and their potential immensely vast. At this point the idea of Urban Yoga steps in.

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

With dominance of vision over the other senses and with informatization of society we are facing a lack of sensory experience of the real spaces, a loss of body-to-body relation and a decrease of cultural and intimate relationships to places we inhabit. However, individual’s basic principle is to live in harmony with oneself and with the environment. How to achieve and maintain such state is very well discussed and put into practice in Yoga, a discipline that I have been, in addition to architecture, professionally involved in for the past twelve years. On the other hand, architecture with all its constructive fields constitutes Urban Landscape – city, a natural habitat of a contemporary man. I believe cities will remain only if we take care of the survival of its citizens by building architecture that is designed with individual’s bodily identification and sense of self in mind. The name of the methodological experiment has been offering itself – Urban Yoga.

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

The medium of Urban Yoga are series of photos, taken in New York City and Madrid, a series featured in this post. More photos are still to be taken in various metropolises around the world, such as Paris that is following next. It will be released in Cacao Magazine, the Paris Rebirth issue.

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Urban Yoga is rediscovering the lost Spatial Sensuousness, a situation where city and body are in constant interaction and are thus mutually supplementing and defining each other. I believe that for as long as our bodies will relate to the real space, as the heart relates to organism, cities will remain, citizens will survive, and as for the architecture – it will continue to exist and work as architecture.

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

More on the methodology of Urban Yoga, its development, observations and findings from metropolis to metropolis will be described in a book on Urban Yoga and Space Potential, The luscious ingredient of architecture that I am preparing.

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

Space Potential: Urban Yoga Madrid, photo: Emilio P. Doiztua

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Exuma Garden of Dreams

Category: ecosistema urbano+new technologies+sustainability+urban social design+⚐ EN

Sobrevolando el Caribe

Puedes ver la versión en español de este post aquí.

Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of over 360 islands (or cays). The largest of the cays is Great Exuma, which is 37 mi (60 km) in length. The capital and largest city in the district is George Town founded 1793 and located on Great Exuma. The Tropic of Cancer runs across a beach close to the city. The entire island chain is 130 mi (209 km) long and 72 sq. mi (187 km²) in area.

Last February, Ecosistema urbano has started a cooperation with the project A Sustainable future for Exuma: Environmental Management, Design, and Planning, a multi-year ecological planning project as a collaboration among the Government of the Bahamas, the Bahamas National Trust and Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD).

Situación de Exuma

The location of Exuma

The goal is to facilitate the design and management of a more sustainable future for the Exuma archipelago, and The Bahamas more generally.
The project has two parallel and mutually informing components: research and education. These components work to inform the development of proposals and interventions as well as the building of capabilities for local empowerment.

Resumen del trabajo de campo - Fuente: Exuma Topics

Field work summary – Source: Exuma Topics

Ecosistema Urbano’s role, within the overall framework of the project, has been to design a series of activities and workshops to promote dialogue within the local community, reflecting on the future of the islands and publicizing the existence and content of this future project. As a final outcome of this debate, there is a need to implement a catalytic intervention in the public space of Georgetown, as a sign of change and transformation for the future of the island.

While interacting within the local community, we obtained key information about how residents feel, what their expectations, perceptions and needs are, etc…The debate essentially stood between two scales: the general area of ​​Exuma and the local environment of George Town, the main town of the district, where most social activity takes place.

Among the many topics that emerged, some are as important as food, energy supply, education, waste, water, transport, tourism, identity or infrastructure.

There have been great moments of collective reflection on the present and future of this beautiful and fragile environment, and it has been particularly interesting to listen to the younger generation, who despite their young age, have a very clear vision of what are the challenges and problems they face to improve their future prospects.

Llegando a Gran Exuma

The toolkit and workshops that have been implemented to probe the wishes and aspirations of the local community are as follows:

1. Street photo tour

Our friend and extraordinary photographer, Emilio P. Doiztua, accompanied us on this trip, making a great record of many of the participants and activities.
We thought it was important to collect the testimonies of those who wanted to participate in more organized activities, but also of those who preferred to express their ideas spontaneously in the street, just off the Church or the market. People were very open to participate and eager to answer our questions.

Algunas de las fotografías tomadas durante el "tour"

Some of the photographs taken during the “tour”

2. Creative workshops

During the week we have been active in the primary schools of St. Andrew’s, Moss Town, George Town, Williams Town and the LN Coakley High School, working with young people between 7 and 18 years. In parallel there have been two meetings with adults, both in St. Andrew’s Community Center.

We designed a set of 2 questions, as a triggering exercise, using the colors red and blue, to symbolize the changes needed and the desired dreams respectively. Each participant was interviewed and answered these two simple questions, as an individual exercise and then proceeded to the collective exercise, in groups of 4 or 5 people.

Azul y rojo, sueños y cambios

Blue and red, dreams and changes

Many and varied were the answers, and it has been very interesting to see the clarity of ideas of the youngest (7-10 years) who suggested changes and proposed ideas fluently, both about their immediate surroundings (their school, their neighborhood, their town) as well as for the broader context, Exuma.

At the end of each workshop, through a simple origami exercise, the red and blue pages symbolizing the desired changes and dreams for the future, were converted into petals to later become paper flowers.

Plantillas usadas para las propuestas y el origami

Templates used for the proposals and the origami – click to see and download in high resolution

Proceso de plegado del origami

Folding origami

For the collective exercises we worked with aerial photos, words, producing collages and staging. There has been a reflection to 3 scales: Exuma, Georgetown and at a more local scale, around a vital public space in town, the daily most frequented place by children, youth and families.

"The park", el principal espacio público de Georgetown

“The park”, the main public space in Georgetown

This space is a natural meeting place for the teenagers and has got a great potential as a space for social interaction on the island due to its proximity to Lake Victoria and for being in the center of Georgetown.

Ubicación de este "parque" en Georgetown

Location of this “park” in Georgetown

features and allow it to be more active, inclusive and comfortable public space. Some of the ideas collected included: shade, playgrounds, street furniture, water, wifi, stands, community gardens, garden, sports facilities, cultural events, concerts, etc.

Añadiendo propuestas al panel de exposición

Adding proposals to the exhibition panel

Puesta en común

Presentation

Puesta en común

Presentation

Trabajando en los "pétalos"

Working on the “petals”

Algunos niños posando con sus propuestas

Some kids with their ideas

Aprendiendo y enseñando a plegar el origami

Learning and teaching how to fold the papers

Some “flowers” start to appear

Mostrando el resultado

Showing the result

In a local highschool

Using the digital application

Using the digital application

Adults workshop

Workshop with adults, both tourists and locals

Sharing results and reflections

Sharing results and reflections

3. Digital Exuma: www.exumadreams.org

As in previous occasions, and after adapting the graphics, we used Whatif for digitally collecting ideas from participants. The resulting platform www.exumadreams.org, is and will remain active for the next few months as an open communication channel with all those who want to maintain the dialogue and continue to participate.

For those of you who are not familiar with the tool, Whatif is a web and mobile application designed to the publication of geolocated messages: Users write their ideas, opinions or proposals in 140 characters and classified by category and location so that they can be consulted, valued and shared in real time. We developed it as a tool to assist public participation processes and collective creativity, facilitating the tasks of consultation, exploration and visualization of a wide variety of data.
The application is open source and available for free download on the official website, which will soon be announcing a new, improved version.

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la pantalla principal

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the main page

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la entrada al formulario

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the entry form

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de mapa

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the map view

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de mensajes

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the messages view

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de etiquetas

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the tags view

www.exumadreams.org

4. Origami garden of exuma dreams- Jardín de los sueños

The last day of our stay, we arranged an installation with all the ideas compiled during the entire process, an ephemeral and symbolic collection of wishes for Exuma, George Town and the public space of the city. A red and blue paper flower garden, each containing 5 petals with different ideas and desires embedded.

The Garden of Dreams allowed us to show the local community the work done throughout the process of workshops and activities, while temporarily transform a public space in Georgetown, drawing attention to the need to revitalize this space.

Boceto de concepto para la instalación

Concept drawing for the installation

La "flor" resultante

The resulting “flower”…

... y las flores formando un jardín

… and the garden these flowers form.

Personas visitando la instalación

People visiting the installation

Personas visitando la instalación

People visiting the installation

Vista nocturna de la instalación

Night view of the installation

Vista nocturna de la instalación

Night view of the installation

Otra vista nocturna de la instalación

Another night view of the installation

Now we are back and the ‘lab’ work begins. It is necessary to process all the collected material and transform the hopes and dreams of the citizens of Georgetown designing a catalytic intervention for this important public space for the community life.

More information about the project:
www.sustainableexuma.org
www.exumatopics.org/about

More pictures about the project at their Facebook page

El equipo visitante, de izquierda a derecha: Gareth Doherty, Jose Luis Vallejo, Belinda Tato, Jose María Ortiz y Mariano Gomez

The visiting team, left to right: Gareth Doherty, Jose Luis Vallejo, Belinda Tato, Jose María Ortiz and Mariano Gomez

Cheers from Exuma!

Cheers from Exuma!

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Some unpublished photos of Ecopolis Plaza featured in the book “Make_Shift City”

Category: architecture+ecosistema urbano+publications+sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

Last year, the Summer already burning over Madrid, a photographer went back to Ecopolis Plaza on an uncertain mission: to capture the life and spirit of the place, three years after the completion of the project.

The reason: the people from Urban Drift, working with the German publisher Jovis, had proposed us to include the project Ecopolis Plaza in their book “Make_Shift City – Renegotiating the Urban Commons” and asked us for some updated photos showing the life of the place. We realized we didn’t have nice, recent pictures of it,  so we called our favourite photographer Emilio P. Doiztúa and invited him to go and register whatever was happening there.

So there went Emilio, armed with some photography gear, and this is what he brought back:  the  images of a grown and lively  Ecopolis Plaza.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Time to go back home!

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Relaxing in the shadow. Notice the tall macrophytes in the artificial lagoon.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

The slides are a great attraction

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Some teenagers hanging around…

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

… and, well, having some fun in front of the camera.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

A not so common point of view of the building

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

This is probably the first photo published from this side of the building!

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Parents and children going to/from the kindergarden

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

For more pictures of this and more projects, you can get the book “Make_Shift City” here.

Makeshift implies a temporary or expedient substitute for something else, something missing. Make-Shift City extends the term to embrace urban design strategies. “Make-Shift City” implies a condition of insecurity: the inconstant, the imperfect and the indeterminate. It also implies the designing act of shifting or reinterpretation as a form of urban détournement.

In case you happen to be in Berlin in March, you will have the chance to attend the official presentation:

Wednesday, 19 - March 2014 –  19.00
AEDES auf dem Pfefferberg
Christinenstraße 18, 10119 Berlin

Make_Shift City: Renegotiating the Urban Commons
More info on Ecopolis Plaza, including these and more photos

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SPACE POTENTIAL: The luscious ingredient of architecture | Video Method PLES

Category: architecture+creativity+research+⚐ EN

How fatal would architectural discipline consider the idea to diminish the role of plans in spatial analysis and planning and acclaim the role of individual’s physical interaction with space through movement?

With the advent of the moving image, particularly within the new media, the notion of a precise reference image has become both relative and confused.1 Already in 1936 Walter Benjamin declared that since the beginning of the 20th century neither space nor time have been perceived and articulated the way they were from time immemorial.2 How we sense and perceive space is determined not only by our nature, but by historical circumstances as well.3 With the arrival of photography the relationship between reality and its representation was established anew.4 Photography announced the advent of the moving image, which gave rise to the further changes in our perception of space.5

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image: A.H.

The process of globalisation significantly changed the landscape of motion for the contemporary man. We may choose to travel at ever-greater speeds to any place in the world within a blink of the eye or we may choose to stay isolated in our domestic environment, connected to the rest of the world through the latest technologies. The need of the contemporary man to be informed about everything at any time and place is being fully satisfied with the expansion and evolvement of the new media, particularly of the moving image. If there is a medium in every epoch that stands behind the convergence of innovations and perceptual change, thus reflecting and impacting society at large, we can postulate that the moving picture is a visual reference for the contemporary representation of space.6

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

With the birth of the ever more rapidly moving man, we experience an extremely complex set of parameters that determine our daily choices and visions and delineate the reference frame to our actions. We are witnessing a situation in which we can see and experience space, urban or/and natural landscape, at different speeds and various times of day, be it through the windshield of a car, the window of an airplane, the screen of a mobile phone, or simply the TV screen showing the mesmerizing alpine grasslands selling us the new taste of chocolate.7 Phenomenon that sets both ourselves as well as our living environment in motion, impacts the relationship between man and his perceptual reality Christophe Girot calls: movism.8

Movism is the new visual theory of landscape in movement, dealing with the fleeting essence of our epoch. It forms a base for my creation of the Video Method PLES, using video as a possible tool for analysing, documenting and presenting Space Potential. The method is discussing interaction between an individual and urban or/and natural landscape, integrating a broad spectrum of viewpoints and stimulus, which can also appear distorted. Moreover, Video Method PLES is focusing on the notion that by moving through space we perceive and experience a variety of parameters, ranging from cultural, spatial and biotic habits all the way down to phonic, tactile, visual and kinetic parameters in the landscape. Due to a strong presence of motion in our day to day experiential reality, Girot claims that individual’s perceptions have become both relative and confused: some environments may appear extremely pleasant when experienced at certain speeds and become most disquieting at others. Considering that movism changed the relationship between individual and space to an extent, where it cannot be separated from our reality, it is utmost necessary to formally and aesthetically consider and integrate it in every design process to come.9

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

The moving image can enrich our perception, because camera has the ability of introducing us to the unconscious optics, as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.10 Moreover, it functions as an inclusive approach, blending direct physical experience and intuition with Space Potential research. As for the integration of the moving image into the design process, particularly to the Video Method PLES, I furthermost see it as a medium, which provides information by means of the peripheral, unfocused vision. Peripheral vision, as opposed to the focused vision, does not fixate and is opened for interpretation, moreover it has the capability to elevate our perception of space on a level of an existential experience.11 Peripheral vision is linked to individual’s subconscious perception, manifesting through our multisensory apparatus, reviving the information stored in our subconscious.12 The appropriate condition for perceiving Space Potential with our whole being, transforming it into a complete physical experience is through Spatial Sensuousness. It gathers information transmitted through ours senses, intuition, contemplation and reason, making an individual the locust of perception, experience and interpretation of space.

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

The aim of the Video Method PLES is to analyse, document and present the complete spatial experience – Space Potential. It can be verified directly on the field of action, conveying qualities of a given place that are both visible and imperceptible, but nonetheless significant, for example stories, memories and chronology. Video Method PLES combines the scientific, quantitative approach with highly intuitive, experiential and contemplative approach. The name of the method “PLES” is a Slovenian word for “dance”, which symbolizes the interrelationship between the architect and space, produced through a dynamic interaction between the two. Furthermore, PLES is an acrostic of the four phases we follow sequentially: P-rimary, L-atent, E-xperimental and S-ummary.

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

P-rimary phase presents the first contact between the architect and space – urban or/and natural landscape, whereby the interaction based on Spatial Sensuousness (information transmitted through senses, intuition, contemplation and reason) is established between the two. During the primary phase the architect is moving through the space, recording audio and visual information, using camera and microphone. The recorded material is not a reference for a clear and focused imagery, but documents the way architect experienced the intertwinement of existential and physical aspect of space. Primary phase represents the initial insight into Space Potential.

Video method PLES

Space potenital: Video method PLES, image: A.H.

L-atent phase evokes architect’s subconscious aspects of spatial experience. It begins when the architect returns to his or her primary environment and starts reviewing audio and visual material. Simultaneously, the architect notes down thoughts and concepts in a form of narrative monologue, which represents one reaction to spatial experience from the first phase.

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

E-xperiential: In the third phase, analysis, classification and selection of representative audio and visual clips takes place, as well as the recording of the narrative monologue from the second. This is the most important phase, because the discoveries about Space Potential and the given project are adjusted and unified.

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

S-ummary: In the fourth phase the final video is created. It may become both a reference piece and a tool of investigation, nourishing architect’s Spatial Sensuousness, revealing one’s view of space potential of the location. Furthermore, the final video can be a starting point of an architectural intervention into urban/natural landscape, offering the architect a possibility to always return watching it in order to refresh the memory about Space Potential.

Video Method PLES,

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

I postulate that the moving image, video in particular, is a visual reference for the contemporary spatial design. The accessibility and immediacy of moving images that are captured and manipulated in video, bring us closer to sensual and experiential depiction of the fleeting contemporary environment, and above all to movement, which is the perceptual phenomenon and experiential reference of our daily life. At the same time, video is much closer to subjective and intuitive description of any given place than a plan, which is utmost scientific and precise, but succumbs to its two-dimensional limitations.13 At this point I would like to make clear that no matter how subjective, thus relative our observations are they have a direct impact on subsequent design choices for any given place. Architect is allowed to internalize the objective realm, because “the only way to reach the objective representation of reality is by comparing various subjective images”.14

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

Video Method PLES is a possible tool for analysing, documenting and presenting Space Potential, because it has the ability to capture and to present qualities of both physical as well as of existential aspect of space.15 It reduces the Euclidean space and gives us an opportunity to operate with the dimension of time, which reveals qualities of Space Potential that are otherwise difficult to capture, such as rhythm, stories, atmosphere, the passing of time and movement.16 Interaction with space with a camera, creating and analysing videos, enables architects and designers to acquire the understanding of the existential aspect of space, perceiving more of Space Potential. This enables architect’s interventions to be in tune with general spatial characteristics in cultural dimensions of the contemporary landscape and the inhabitants of the time being.

 Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image: A.H.

I believe that returning to space acknowledging the importance of the moving body and its multisensory perception and their inevitable interrelation with the subconscious way of interpreting space is necessary for identifying utmost of Space Potential. As architects we need to acquire the understanding of Space Potential in order to be able to carry out our spatial interventions wisely and knowledgeably. Considering that introduction to a site and interaction with it has all too often been reduced to systematic and quantitative formulas for analysing the site indirectly, from a distance, ways that do not grasp the potentiality of the reality we leave in. We need to accept and internalize both the conscious and the subconscious means of gathering information about Space Potential and reconcile our senses with the science.17

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

The aim of Space Potential Plarform is to trigger thoughts and induce actions, leaving enough space for individual engagement and interpretation of suggested directions. Sensing and perception are inherently subjective, the only correspondence to reality is the one that what we as humans agreed upon. However, I believe we may use architecture as a vehicle to enrich and create experiences and interpretations of space that will be shared among our fellow human beings, sparking further changes in our agreement about Space Potential.

Footnotes:

1. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002).
2. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.
3. Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Illuminations, Hannah Arendt, ur. (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 217-252.
4. Ibid, p. 59-67.
5. Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Illuminations, Hannah Arendt, ur. (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 217-252.
6. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002).
7. Ibid
8. Ibid, p. 48.
9. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002).
10. Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Illuminations, Hannah Arendt, ur. (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 237.
11. Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, Architecture and the Senses. (London: John Wiley & Sons, 2005), 10.
12. Ibid, p. 10.
13. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002), 48.
14. Anja Humljan, video project at Aalborg School for Architecture and Design, department for Digital Design, Aalborg University, 2006.
15. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002), 51.
16. Ibid, p. 9-52.
17. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.

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Urban Social Design | Lecture at Portland State University

Category: ecosistema urbano+events+news+⚐ EN

ENERGY CAROUSEL

Jose Luis Vallejo, recently appointed with Belinda Tato as the School of Architecture’s 2014 Distinguished Visiting Professors of Urbanism, will give a lecture entitled “Urban Social Design” on Thursday, February 27, at 6pm in Shattuck Hall Annex at the Portland State University campus. The talk will be free and open to the public.

He will talk about Ecosistema Urbano’s “urban social design” approach, focusing on the design of environments, space and dynamics as a way of improving self-organization of citizens, social interaction within communities and their relationship with the environment.

Happening on: February 27, 2014 6:00pm
Location: Shattuck Hall Annex, Portland State University campus
Official post at the Portland State College of the Arts website

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SPACE POTENTIAL: The luscious ingredient of architecture | Platform

Category: architecture+creativity+urbanism+⚐ EN

Space Potential is a conceptual platform, responding to questions on space and architecture: what is crucial for architecture today, what needs to be considered in architectural praxis and pursued in the architectural practice, what should we not give up on, so that architecture will continue to exist and work as architecture?

Space Potential is focusing on architecture as a dynamic relation and complex experience between individual and space. It is moving away from defining architecture as solely physical arrangement of objects and shapes towards the experiential reality that emerges on the threshold between objective reality (physical aspect of space) and subjective realm (existential aspect of space), placing an individual into the locus of perception, experience and interpretation of space.

Space potential

Space Potential: dynamic relation and complex experience between individual and space, image: A.H.

We perceive and experience space with all our senses, intuition, contemplation and reason in a complex way while moving through it.1 Physical aspect of space is defined by Euclidean geometry, autonomous forms and function, whereas the existential aspect of space stems from the intertwinement of multi-sensory bodily experience, intuition, memories, stories, archetypes, the passing of time and movement. Human body enriched by its multisensory apparatus is the locus of sensation, whereas the mind with its conscious and subconscious processes is the center of perception, experience and interpretation of space.2 Perception and experience of objective and subjective aspects of space intertwine and form an intense and unique spatial experience, called Space Potential.

Space potential

Space Potential: experience of “being in the word”, image: A.H.

Space Potential is inexhaustible and derives from landscape, which is the essential manifestation of space.3 The notion of landscape as an idyllic representation of aesthetic and soothing natural surroundings with meadows and fields, still has its place in our hearts today, but has little or no connection to the world that we presently experience.4 Contemporary landscapes can be natural as well as urban, or even a combination of both, including landscape manifestations, such as airports, high-ways, railways, technological and industrial parks and so called unmentionable landscapes, with no proper form or name that clutter our urban peripheries.5 Architecture with all its constructive fields constitutes urban landscape – city, a natural habitat of the contemporary man. Individual’s basic principle is to live in harmony with oneself and with the environment. Accordingly, cities will remain only if we take care of the survival of their citizens by building architecture that is designed with individual’s bodily identification and sense of self in mind.

Space potential

Space Potential: senses, specialization of skin tissue, image: A.H.

Space Potential is intensified by Spatial Sensuousness. It sums up information transmitted through senses, intuition, contemplation and reason. Every spatial intervention affects the way we live, think and function, therefore “Architects need to understand their influence on environment and society and take the responsibility for the effects of their actions.”6 Accordingly, architect’s task is to cultivate Spatial Sensuousness, hence it is the appropriate condition for experiencing the physical, as well as the existential aspect of space and thus perceiving a complex Space Potential7 – the intense, inexhaustible and utmost luscious ingredient of space. In architectural planning as well as in the use of architectural space in general one should reveal and consider utmost of space potential.8 The task of architecture is then to grasp Space Potential by perceptible means, creating new space with new Space Potential.9

Space potential

Space Potential: ”the hand wants to see, the eyes want to caress”, image: A.H.

Nonetheless, integrity of Space Potential cannot be revealed and analyzed solely through the general analysis of space, which is based primarily on the analysis of physical aspect of space.10 Ergo, the existential aspect of space remains unexplored and information about the complex quality of space incomplete, revealing only a small part of Space Potential.11 Architecture has become an increasingly interdisciplinary profession, offering fertile ground for us architects to design and create radically diversified languages that are based on a rather intuitive and experiential approaches to articulate our ideas and thus, create wholly unique tools, techniques and methods for analyzing, documenting and presenting Space Potential.

Space potenital

Space Potential: reconciling science with our senses, image: A.H

I have designed and carried out two interdisciplinary concepts in the Space Potential manner – Urban Yoga and Video Method PLES. PLES is the acrostic of the four consecutive phases (P-rimary, L-atent, E-xperimental and S-ummary), as well as a Slovenian word for ‘dance’, which symbolizes the interrelationship between the architect and space, produced through a dynamic interaction, when an individual is flowing through space. Urban Yoga is a series of photos taken in New York City and Madrid and are still to be taken in various metropolises around the world. Urban Yoga is rediscovering the lost Spatial Sensuousness, a situation where city and body are in constant interaction and are thus mutually supplementing and defining each other. Both concepts will be thoroughly presented in the two consecutive posts, as a sequel to this one.

Space potenital

Space Potential: Urban Yoga New York – rediscovering Spatial Sensuousness, photo: Jaka Vinšek

Space Potential is discussing possibilities and characteristics of space if we are engaging in it with our whole being, moving beyond the regular architectural analysis, tools and methods, towards an experience with an existential significance.12 It is then, when less obvious aspects of space open up, revealing new ways of thinking, living and functioning.13 The basic principle of the Space Potential platform stems from the notion that “architecture is the art of reconciliation between ourselves and the world”,14 the experiential process based on our senses and sensory perception of the space around us. Therefore, the architect is allowed to internalize the objective realm, because “the only way to reach the objective representation of reality is by comparing various subjective images”.15

Visual images of Space Potential theory in the post are deliberately left rather abstract, as my aim is to trigger thoughts and induce actions, leaving enough space for individual engagement and interpretation of suggested directions. Namely, sensing and perception are inherently subjective, the only correspondence to reality is the one that what we as humans agreed upon. However, we may use architecture as a vehicle to enrich and create experiences and interpretations of space that will be shared among our fellow human beings, sparking further changes in our agreement about Space Potential.

Footnotes

1. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67
2. Alenka Kompare, Mihaela Stražišar, Tomaž Vec, Irena Dogša, Norbert Jaušovec, Janina curk, Psihologija, Spoznanje in dileme. (Ljubljana DZS, 2002).
3. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.
4. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002), 48.
5. Ibid, p. 48.
6. Brian Bell in Katie Wakeford, Expanding Architecture. (New York: Metropolisbooks, 2008).
7. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.
8. Ibid, p. 59-67.
9. Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Co., Tokyo, Japan: http://www.nakam.info/en/
10. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002), 50.
11. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.
12. Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, Architecture and the Senses (London: John Wiley & Sons, 2005), 10, 11.
13. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.
14. Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, Architecture and the Senses (London: John Wiley & Sons, 2005), 72.
15. Janek Musek, Zgodovina psihologije. (Ljubljana: Oddelek za psihologijo Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani, 2003), 5.

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BRACKET [takes action] call for submissions

Category: convocatorias+news+⚐ EN

Brackets [Takes action]

According to their own description, Bracket is an annual publication documenting issues overlooked yet central to our cultural milieu that have evolved out of the new disciplinary territory at the intersection of architecture, environment, and digital culture. Bracket is a project developed by InfraNet Lab, published by Actar to examine both design and theoretical positions centered on a particular theme.

The fourth issue, Bracket [Takes Action], will examine the ability of design to incite socio-political / socio-cultural action.

An extract from the call:

Bracket [takes action] asks: What are the collective projects in the public realm to act on?

How have recent design projects incited political or social action? How can design catalyze a public, as well as forums for that public to act? What is the role of spatial practice to instigate or resist public actions? Bracket 4 provokes spatial practice’s potential to incite and respond to action today.

The fourth edition of Bracket invites design work and papers that offer contemporary models of spatial design that are conscious of their public intent and actively engaged in socio-political conditions. It is encouraged, although not mandatory, that submissions documenting projects be realized. Positional papers should be projective and speculative or revelatory, if historical. Suggested subthemes include:

Participatory ACTION – interactive, crowd-sourced, scripted
Disputed PUBLICS – inconsistent, erratic, agonized
Deviant ACTION – subversive, loopholes, reactive
Distributed PUBLICS– broadcasted, networked, diffused
Occupy ACTION– defiant, resistant, upheaval
Mob PUBLICS – temporary, forceful, performative
Market ACTION– abandoning, asserting, selecting

Submission deadline: February 28, 2014 (10pm EST)
More info

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Anja Humljan | eu collaborators

Category: colaboradores+⚐ EN

Today we introduce you to Anja Humljan, a young architect with a very diverse profile and an interesting background, who is doing an internship with us and will be contributing with some posts for the blog while working on her own research. Here, she tells us more about herself:

I am a freelance architect from Slovenia, passionatelly pursuing projects around the world – from New York to Madrid, Australia and Denmark, with Tokyo on the to-do list. To fulfill my interests in interdisciplinary and multimedia approach to architecture I studied classical architecture in Slovenia, photo-media, video arts and sound recording in Australia and digital design in Denmark. Together with Danish colleagues we designed an interactive pavilion NoRA exhibited and built at Venice Architectural Biennial 2006.

Anja Humljan

Anja Humljan, photo: Irena Herak

For the past ten years, I have been investigating various fields that at first glance have no connection with architecture: I explored emotional expressionism and dynamic relationship between individual and space through modern dance and ballet. While living in New York City, I was taking part in dance intensives with world’s most renowned modern dance companies – Alvin Ailey and Complexions. Studying vocal techniques and sound recording for six months at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, working as voice actor, narrator and radio presenter made me sensible for the sonic quality of our contemporary environment, discovering the importance of sound and its immense potential within architecture. By consistently teaching and practicing yoga for twelve years I have been investigating proprioception and pareidolia and learned how to strengthen individual’s sub consciousness via physical training, meditation and discipline.

Space potential

Space potential: Physical vs. existential aspect of space, image: A.H.

SPACE POTENTIAL: URBAN YOGA AND VIDEO METHOD PLES On the threshold between all the respected fields and architecture, I placed a conceptual platform Space potential. It responds to my questions on space and architecture: what is crucial for architecture today, what needs to be pursued in the architectural practice, what we should not give up on, so that architecture will continue to exist and work as architecture. I believe we perceive and experience space in a complex way: objective qualities form physical aspects of space (geometry and function), whereas the subjective qualities form existential aspect of space (multisensory bodily experience, intuition, stories, movement, the passing of time). For analyzing, documenting and presenting the existential aspect of space I established and tested two concepts: Urban yoga project and Video method Ples. Ples is the acrostic of the four consecutive phases (P-rimary, L-atent, E-xperimental and S-ummary), as well as a Slovenian word for dance, which symbolizes the relationship between the architect and space.

Video method PLES

Space potenital: Video method Ples, image: A.H.

Urban yoga project, a series of photos taken and are still to be taken in various metropolises around the world, is rediscovering the lost spatial sensuousness, a situation where city and body are in constant interaction and are thus mutually supplementing and defining each other. I believe that for as long as our bodies will relate to the real space, as the heart relates to organism, cities will remain, citizens will survive, and as for the architecture – it will continue to exist and work as architecture.

Urban yoga New York

Space potential: Urban yoga New York City, photo: Jaka Vinšek

Working for versatile, proactive and extremely productive Ecosistema Urbano Arquitectos is utmost exciting and fun, eagerly awaiting each new project to come.

Occupation: Architect
Interests: Existential and experiential Architecture, Brand design, Voice acting and narration, Modern ballet and flamenco, Electronic music, blues rock, jazz and fado, Jivamukti yoga
City/Country: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Website: http://www.anjahumljan.si
Social profiles: Facebook

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ReparaCiudad, a Spanish platform for the improvement of street conditions | Social Toolbox

Category: social toolbox+⚐ EN

Website:  www.reparaciudad.com
Type: Platform | App
Issues: Street conditions | Mobility and accessibility


ReparaCiudad follows the same concept of FixMyStreet. It is an application that allows citizens to report incidents in the street and immediately inform the public administration, which can quickly react and provide feedback to the citizens about the solutions adopted. The application provides a mobile version and a web based version. continue reading

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Get a Bike! | Ecosistema Urbano awarded at international cycle-friendly ideas competition in Oslo

Category: concursos+espacio público+nuevas tecnologías+⚐ EN

Illustrasjon Get a bike

You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic. Get a bike. Break free!

Under that motto, originally created for a commercial campaign and adbusted by Lisbon Cycle Chic, was presented Get a Bike, an international competition organized by Future Built in Oslo aiming to collect ideas about how to develop a growing cycling culture in and nearby the capital city of Norway. How to make the Oslo Region one of the best cycling regions in Europe?

continue reading

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FixMyStreet, platform for the improvement of street conditions l Social toolbox

Category: social toolbox+⚐ EN

Website: www.fixmystreet.com
Type: Platform | App
Issues: Streets’ conditions | Mobility and accessibility


To kick off with the #SocialToolbox series, here is one of the first and most remarkable −almost ‘classic’− examples of an urban social tool bridging the physical “body” of the city and the digital “soul” where humans and data interact.

FixMyStreet is a site to help people report, view, or discuss local problems they’ve found to their local council by simply locating them on a map. It launched in early February 2007. FixMyStreet is primarily for reporting things which are broken or dirty or damaged or dumped, and need fixing, cleaning or clearing, such as: abandoned vehicles, dog fouling, flyposting or graffiti, flytipping or litter, streetcleaning, such as broken glass in a cycle lane, unlit lamposts, potholes. continue reading

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Alive Architecture | Urban installations to raise awareness and drive change

Category: creativity+urban social design+urbanism+⚐ EN

Alive Architecture

Earlier this year Belinda had the pleasure to meet Petra Pferdmenges and know about her practice, which is close to the concept of tactical urbanism and to our way of using urban actions or ‘mockups’ to test concepts in the city and trigger engagement. In her own words:

Quick and simple urban performances allow engaging with the local population and observing their reactions towards the performed project. In case of success the tests may stimulate a dynamic that forwards the initial action, often independent of the actual designer who generated the process.

The practice

Alive Architecture, based in Brussels and founded by her in 2010, is a research-based practice that celebrates design engagement through urban actions in order to generate urban dynamics. The applied tools are performances that establish a dialogue with the local actors. The intention is to enter into a feedback loop between testing a project (the expertise of the designer) and observing the local population’s reactions (the expertise of the local population) and allows furthering the initial project. Successful projects generate a more permanent dynamic in the neighborhood.

In commissioned projects this method is applied in order to test preliminary design proposals that will then be furthered through the observation of people’s reactions. In self-initiated projects the quick and simple actions are a way to raise a dialogue on the potential of a well-chosen site through engaging with the local population.

The use of popular media as Facebook, postcards, fanzine’s or flyers supports the construction of exchange among the different actors involved in the project. The dissemination of the work in form of publications, writings and conferences may expand the dialogue beyond the local scale.

In order to give you a glimpse into her work, here is a series of projects initiated and realized in and around Brussels red light district:

Visible Invisible

Visible Invisible by Alive Architecture

Visible Invisible by Alive Architecture

Collaboration with: Stijn Beeckman, photographer
Date: December 2010 – January 2011
Place: Vitrine 11, Brussels (Ixelles)

The request by the owner of the gallery ‘Vitrine 11’ to propose an installation to be set up in a display window leads us to the question: ‘How to make a window display alive?’ Reflection on domesticated windows in relation to the public domain brought us to the neighborhood of the Rue d’Aerschot, Brussels Red Light District. Here, the curtain behind the window allows cutting off the private sphere from public life. We proposed a copy paste of the lived windows in the Rue d’Aerschot to the window display in Ixelles, a sophisticated neighborhood in Brussels. The space becomes transformed and used in a way that is different from the original use, and provides for an encounter of the passers-by with the topic of prostitution that remains taboo.

The project provoked reactions and dialogue among people in the neighborhood. Some people became worried about their neighborhood becoming a red light district, others taking it with humor, few calling the police and again other people to try to meet the woman that never appeared behind the window. While a ‘finissage’ a series of experts on prostitution joined the discussion and were the source of the follow-up projects in the red light district itself.

Flash-Paint

Flash-Paint by Alive Architecture

Flash-Paint by Alive Architecture

Date: March 2012
Place: Brussels (Schaerbeek), rue d’Aerschot

One of the actions to advertise the vacant spaces was realized within the street itself. The intervention was inspired by the signs hung behind many of the windows on the ground floor announcing ‘Cherche Serveuse’. The papers indicate that the place has free window space for a woman to offer sexual exchange against money. I took this as an inspiration to place additional signs saying ‘Cherche Locataire’ on the windows of the vacant spaces on the ground floor to indicate the search for people to rent the place. An email address on the sign invited people to express their interest. A small number of emails were received but the actual encounter in space was much more fruitful. Singh, the person employed to run the night shop in the street, was getting exited to have his own shop in the street. A series of immigrants without papers stopped to ask for the price and were ready to pay a rather high amount of money to rent a studio in the street. Further, potential pimps started discussions to test if the spaces on the ground floor could be rented for the function of prostitution. The method of performing within the street rather than advertising space in the surroundings was a success: the direct relation between acting in the street and discussing with people became a way to exchange with those usually impossible to engage with otherwise. Therefore the same method was applied in the third action while spending more time on it to engage more in depth with people.

As in the action Flash-Paint, the intention to occupy one of the vacant ground floor spaces within the framework of the project ‘I love Aerschot’ is furthering this project and may, in case of success, generate occupation of several vacant ground floors along the street.

Food for love

Collaboration with: Piadina Wagon
Date: April – October 2012
Place: Brussels (Schaerbeek), rue d’Aerschot

Among a series of other actions responding to people’s needs in Brussels red light district I curated a pop-up restaurant Piadina Wagon in the street. The owners sold for the duration of a day their Italian specialties in the street. On one side the installation of the restaurant that expanded onto the sidewalk had a short-term value to improve the livability of the street. On the other side we recognized the socio-economic success of the project and it became evident that there is a potential for pop-up restaurants in the street that may have a long-term impact on the life in the neighborhood. The owners of the Piadina Wagon agreed to install their restaurant once per month in the street from June to October 2012, this time including a delivery service.

Dissemination of the project through local media announced the success of the project and the dates of the presence of the mobile restaurant in the street. After several articles and announcements were published a second restaurant with the name Pink Panther arrived to sell Lebanese specialties in the street. While the Piadina Wagon stopped their intervention this November, the Pink Panther continues selling Lebanese food once a week in the street.

In the follow-up project currently developed with Escaut architectures and OKUP, a series of public dinners and breakfasts will further the idea of food places in the street and contribute to the dialogue among the different actors.

Sweet Flowers

Sweet Flowers by Alive Architecture

Sweet Flowers by Alive Architecture

Date: April 2012
Place: Brussels (Schaerbeek), rue d’Aerschot

‘I wish for better clients’ – a wish expressed by several sex workers is a challenging task for a designer. The initial idea to respond to that wish was to curate a person who would sell flowers to potential clients. The seller may give the idea to men to bring a flower when visiting a sex-worker and therefore transform them, temporarily, into better clients. It turned out to be impossible to convince any flower seller to spend an afternoon in the street as they expected the financial profit to be low in that specific neighbourhood. In order to not abandon the idea I handed out the flowers myself and became therefore not only the initiator but as well one of the actors in the event.

Several men accepted the flower and were strolling with a flower in their hand along the street. Some of the big sisters were happy about receiving a flower for free and placed them in a vase inside of the bar. Some sex-workers behind the window ended up placing a flower behind their ears. Singh, the owner of the night shop, received several flowers that he fixed between the chocolate bars in the night shop.

Recording the relational performances allowed disseminating the project through the local TV station and Archiurbain. The project generated dialog on a future of this grey and abandoned street and contributed to the call for ideas that was published end of 2012. The chosen team to realize the project is Escaut architectures in collaboration with OKUP and Alive Architecture and is currently developed and realized by the team.

People’s Wall

People's wall by Alive Architecture

People’s wall by Alive Architecture

Date: April 2012
Place: Brussels (Schaerbeek), rue d’Aerschot

‘I wish for a less grey wall’ – was expressed by several big sisters as well as people from the local association l’Attitude Nord. To respond to this wish the series of collages of the ten micro-transformations for the street were exhibited on the wall. The intention of the exhibition was to activate the wall by transforming it into a more colorful space that could create encounter, interaction and attract people from outside of the area into the street. Invitations were sent to city authorities and local associations and flyers were distributed to the big sisters and the sex-workers.

Once the performance of placing the images on the wall started some passing-by people asked questions about the work and therefore engaged into the performance. Passing by people stopped to have a look at the exhibited work, Some sex-workers sneaked out of their window to see what was happening in their street, several big sisters crossed the street to find out what the exhibition was about, a series of office workers from the two associations joined the event and a group of eight people from the city of Schaerbeek made their way down to the rue d’Aerschot.

Moments of different situations occurred on the sidewalk, each having a different density of people transforming the space. Discussions were generated between passing by people and those visiting the exhibition. At the peak moment that was at the time of lunch break a crowd of about 25 to 30 people who joined the event and transformed the sidewalk into a collective performance in the street.

In the project ‘I love Aerschot’ the project is furthered through a projection on the wall throughout the summer 2013.

Displac(d)

Collaboration with: Piadina Wagon
Date: April – October 2012
Place: Les Ateliers Claus, Brussel, Belgium

‘The three short movies ‘food for love’, ‘sweet flowers’ & ‘people’s wall’ were exhibited in the showcase of ‘Les Ateliers Claus’ in Brussels. For the opening the window became a stage for performance in which people could engage and therefore become part of the making of the event. The engagement was filmed and exhibited behind the showcase that provoked further engagement of passing by people into the relational performance.

Mapping

Another interesting line of work is the mapping of existing realities, in which she redraws and annotates objects and spaces, making visible the way people live, the spontaneous solutions they use and the interactions that happen around them. An great example of this is her work on informal structures built by urban nomads.

Research on urban nomads in Kyoto by Alive Architecture

Research on urban nomads in Kyoto by Alive Architecture

For more information, you can check:

Website: www.alivearchitecture.eu
Video interview (French): ARCHI URBAIN | Alive Architecture – Installations urbaines

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Digital social tools for the city l New series: Social Toolbox

Category: new technologies+social toolbox+⚐ EN

Today we present a coming series of posts about digital social tools. With this term we mean digital platforms, software, and online projects developed for the improvement of cities and neighbourhoods through direct participation by their citizens. Digital social tools can be open platforms that allow anyone to sign up and collaborate or applications that can be applied to different participatory projects.

What is the social potential of information technology and of the development of open source software and web-based social projects? To answer this question we will begin by establishing a theoretical framework contextualizing this spreading phenomena in contemporary society. In the end we will propose a system for a graphic representation to help us better understand and compare their underlying structure.

 Marta Battistella

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