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Exuma Garden of Dreams

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

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 [Edit 2015: now called local in] 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: ⚐ EN+architecture+ecosistema urbano+publications+sustainability+urbanism

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: ⚐ EN+architecture+creativity+research

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: ⚐ EN+ecosistema urbano+events+news

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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BRACKET [takes action] call for submissions

Category: ⚐ EN+convocatorias+news

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: ⚐ EN+colaboradores

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: ⚐ EN+social toolbox

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: ⚐ EN+concursos+espacio público+tecnologías

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: ⚐ EN+social toolbox

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: ⚐ EN+creativity+urban social design+urbanism

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