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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.

continue reading

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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

continue reading

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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+sustainability+technologies+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