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Digitas Meets Humanitas: The Projects of Networked Urbanism | By Blair Kamin

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

Image by Flickr user Richard Schneider

Image by Flickr user Richard Schneider

The book ‘Networked Urbanism’ included this article by Blair Kamin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic of The Chicago Tribune, who served as a visiting critic for our “Networked Urbanism” studio.

There was no Internet in 1938 when the eminent Chicago sociologist Louis Wirth wrote his classic essay, “Urbanism as a Way of Life.” Taking note of the phenomenal growth of such industrial cities as New York and Chicago, as well as the lack of an adequate sociological definition of urban life, Wirth articulated parameters of enduring relevance.

Cities should not be defined by the quantity of their land mass or the size of their population, he wrote. Rather, they were best understood by pinpointing their distinctive qualities: “a relatively large, dense, and permanent settlement of socially heterogeneous individuals.” 1 That heterogeneity, Wirth observed, had the effect of breaking down the rigid social barriers associated with small-town and rural life. It increased both mobility and instability, causing individuals to join organized groups to secure their identity amidst the city’s ceaseless flux. “It is largely through the activities of the voluntary groups,” Wirth observed, “that the urbanite expresses and develops his personality, acquires status, and is able to carry on the round of activities that constitute his life-career.” 2

Image by Marco Rizzetto

Image by Marco Rizzetto

Implicit in his analysis was the notion that these networks would be formed through the technologies of their time: By letter, by telephone, by telegraph, by the newspaper, and, of course, by face-to-face contact. Amid today’s ongoing digital revolution, that part of Wirth’s otherwise prescient analysis seems antique.

In that sense, nothing has changed and everything has changed since the publication of “Urbanism as a Way of Life” more than 75 years ago. Half of the world’s population lives in urban areas; that share, the United Nations predicts, will rise to roughly two-thirds by 2050. As in Wirth’s time, urbanization has spawned acute problems, from China’s acrid skies to India’s vast slums. Yet while urbanites still ally themselves with groups, the means by which they do this has shifted entirely. Think of the recent spate of “Facebook revolutions.” Human communication is now overwhelmingly digital, and digital urbanism has become a pervasive part of city life, whether it takes the form of sensors embedded in highways or apps that let us know when the bus is coming.

The question is whether we are fully realizing the potential of these tools to improve the quality of the built environment and, with it, the quality of urban life. In short, can the virtual enrich the physical?

Image by Carlos León

Image by Carlos León

Madrid architects Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo, principals of the firm Ecosistema Urbano, believe in the value of this link and have set out to prove its worth through their practice and their Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) studio, Networked Urbanism. The architects belong to a new generation that decries the self-referential “object buildings” enabled by digital design. Yet like Frank Lloyd Wright, who viewed the machine as an agent of progressive social and aesthetic change, they see the computer as a friend, not an enemy.

This perspective has helped them realize such socially-conscious projects as the Ecopolis Plaza in Madrid, which transformed an old industrial site into a child care and recreation center that is as visually striking as it is ecologically sensitive. Tato and Vallejo have imparted this creative approach to their students and the students have run with it, as the impressive results collected in this book show.

The first thing that distinguishes Tato and Vallejo’s pedagogy is its starting points, which are unapologetically practical and local–an anomaly within the theory-driven, globally-focused world of academic architectural culture. Instead of parachuting in to some far-flung locale, their students engage the place where they live: greater Boston. This affords the students time for repeat visits to their project sites and a deeper understanding of people and their needs than can be gleaned on a lightning-fast overseas tour. But it would be inaccurate to characterize the process and product of “Networked Urbanism” as parochial. The architects subscribe to the philosophy of “going glocal.” As they have written, “every urban project is born in a constant movement between the direct experience and specificity of the local context, and the global, shared flow of information and knowledge.”

One of the “glocal” issues American cities face is the rapid expansion of bicycles as a mode of transportation–a stark contrast to China, where members of the new middle-class abandon bikes for the status symbol of a car and, in the process, worsen traffic congestion and air pollution. But the growth of urban cycling has brought a dramatic increase in bicycle thefts. The vast majority of these thefts go unreported to police because the stolen bikes are rarely found. The victims feel powerless. Harvard student Lulu Zhizhou Li used to be one of them. She’s had her bike stolen twice, once from the racks in front of the GSD. “When I started talking to friends about it, I quickly realized that most everyone has had some sort of bike theft experience,” she said in an interview with Harvard’s Office of Sustainability.

BikeNapped by Lulu Zhizhou Li

BikeNapped by Lulu Zhizhou Li

Li’s response was to design a successful online platform, “Bikenapped!,” which maps where bike thefts occur. The Web site allows bike theft victims to avoid these trouble spots, share their stories and perhaps even prevent future thefts. The interactivity afforded by digital technology is crucial to the enterprise, as one posting from August 2013 shows. “Flexible Kryptonite lock was cut between 4:30-6:20 p.m. at the bike rack outside Fenway movie theatre,” a victim named Deborah wrote about the loss of her white Vita bike with small black fenders, a white seat and a value of $550. “Busy intersection, loads of people. No one saw anything. Cameras point at doors, not bike rack.” The theater’s owners are now on notice that they should reposition one of their cameras. More important, Li has drawn upon her individual experience to frame a collective digital response, one that was technologically impossible when Wirth penned “Urbanism as a Way of Life.”

The students in Networked Urbanism have taken on other pressing problems of our time, such as the need for recycling that helps protect the environment. But waste doesn’t happen by chance; it’s a result of bad design.

Consider what two students came up with as they analyzed the very Bostonian problem of discarded oyster shells. The students, Jenny Corlett and Kelly Murphy, devised a way to break the cycle of restaurants mindlessly throwing out used oyster shells, which, in turn, wind up in landfills. Their solution: Collect and dry the shells, then use them to help grow new oysters and rebuild oyster reefs in Boston Harbor.

Aquaplot by Jenny Corlett + Kelly Murphy

Aquaplot by Jenny Corlett + Kelly Murphy

The plan would have a disproportionate impact because oysters affect many other species in their ecosystem. They improve water quality by removing algae, plankton and pollutants from the water. And the oyster reefs provide a habitat for small species like snails and shrimp, thereby increasing a region’s biodiversity. It’s hard to argue with projected outcomes like that– or with Corlett and Murphy’s marketing skills. Before their final presentation, they served their visiting critics oysters on the half shell.

Those who believe that architecture schools solely exist to teach students how to be heroic designers might smirk at such examples. Recently, the dean of one prestigious American architecture school provocatively argued that the problem of people complaining about object buildings is that people are complaining about object buildings. Making memorable objects, this dean said, is the core of what architects and architecture are all about.

Yet such a myopic world view privileges a formalist approach to architecture at the expense of the field’s rich social promise. Architecture isn’t a large-scale version of sculpture. It shapes the world in which we live.

The genius of Networked Urbanism is that it isn’t teaching students to be geniuses. It’s teaching them to be creative problem solvers, builders of smart digital networks and thus, builders of smarter urban communities. That’s a brighter, more responsible vision of the future than the dumbed-down version of digital urbanism you see on sidewalks today–people staring at their smart phones, lost in their own private worlds. In contrast, the projects of Networked Urbanism offer a new, intelligent way to form and vitalize the social networks that Louis Wirth identified as crucial to the continued well-being of urban life. Together, these designs confer fresh relevance upon the sociologist’s ringing declaration that “metropolitan civilization is without question the best civilization that human beings have ever devised.” 3

Blair Kamin has been the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic since 1992. A graduate of Amherst College and the Yale University School of Architecture, he has also been a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. The University of Chicago Press has published two collections of Kamin’s columns: “Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago” and “Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age.” Kamin is the recipient of 35 awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, which he received in 1999 for a body of work highlighted by a series of articles about the problems and promise of Chicago’s greatest public space, its lakefront. Another recent story is Designed in Chicago, made in China.

1. Footnote 1 Louis Wirth, “Urbanism as a Way of Life,” American Journal of Sociology 44, no. 1 (July 1938): 8.
2. Footnote 1 Ibid., 23.
3. Footnote 1 Louis Wirth, “The City (The City as a Symbol of Civilization),” The Papers of Louis Wirth, the Joseph Regenstein Library, Special Collections, University of Chicago, box: 39, folder: 6.

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Norway: Next Version | Lecture in Bergen by Ecosistema Urbano

Category: events+news+urbanism+⚐ EN

Belinda Tato will be lecturing next Thursday,  September 11 at the USF Verftet cultural centre in Bergen, Norway, together with 8 other speakers.

Kollasj_620

The conference, organized by the National Association of Norwegian Architects, will explore the relations between the cities, the suburbs and the rural areas, trying to gather insights on how to make them more productive, locally driven and sustainable while preserving Norway’s own character and exploring new lifestyles.

More info (in Norwegian): www.arkitektur.no/kurs6

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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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#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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Shigeru Ban: arquitectura de emergencia | El documental

Category: arquitectura+ecosistema urbano+publicaciones+⚐ ES

Shigeru Ban - Arquitectura de emergencia

Hace un par de años tuvimos la oportunidad de trabajar en la redacción e ilustración de un libreto en español para un documental sobre Shigeru Ban. Tras mucho tiempo pensando que ya iba siendo hora de publicar algo sobre ello aquí, la ocasión se ha presentado sola con el Premio Pritzker de Arquitectura con el que acaba de ser reconocido este arquitecto japonés.arquia/documental 19

El documental ARQUITECTURA DE EMERGENCIA (del que podéis ver el trailer a continuación) recorre el trabajo del arquitecto desde Turquía (1999), donde instaló las Paper Log Houses a base de cilindros de cartón, a Hanóver (2000) donde concibió el pabellón japonés reciclable para la Exposición Universal, pasando por Tokio, París y Nantes, donde compartió sus preocupaciones con jóvenes estudiantes de arquitectura. Su cooperación, iniciada en 1995, tras el terremoto de Kobe en Japón, se manifestó más recientemente en la creación de refugios para miles de damnificados por el terremoto y el devastador tsunami que asoló la costa del Océano Pacífico en Japón, el pasado 11 de marzo de 2011.

La publicación resultante es el número 19 de la colección arquia/documental, en la que cada volumen, además del documental dedicado a un arquitecto y su obra, reúne información recopilada especialmente para cada número por un arquitecto español: fotografías, dibujos, comentarios, escritos o entrevistas incluidos tanto en el DVD como en el libreto adjunto a la edición.

En nuestro caso combinamos para el libreto una serie de textos de Jose Luis Vallejo y Belinda Tato con fotografías seleccionadas e ilustraciones de Jaime Eizaguire. Un conciso resumen, ideal para revisar en el día de hoy, de los aspectos principales del trabajo de este gran arquitecto.

Imagen del libreto

Podéis ver más información sobre esta publicación en la página de arquia.

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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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Jardín de Sueños en Exuma

Category: ecosistema urbano+sostenibilidad+tecnologías+urban social design+⚐ ES

Sobrevolando el Caribe

You can see the English version of this post here.

Exuma es un distrito de las Bahamas que consta de más de 360 islas (o cayos). El mayor de los cayos es Gran Exuma, de unos 60 km de longitud, y en él se sitúa la ciudad más grande del distrito, Georgetown, fundada en 1793. El Trópico de Cáncer pasa por la ciudad. Toda la cadena de islas es de 209 km de largo y unos 72 km².

Ecosistema Urbano ha iniciado en el mes de febrero de 2014 una colaboración con el proyecto A Sustainable future for Exuma: Environmental Management, Design, and Planning, que surge de la cooperación entre el Gobierno de las Bahamas, el Bahamas National Trust y Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD).

Situación de Exuma

Situación de Exuma

“A sustainable future for Exuma” es un proyecto de 3 años de duración con múltiples ramificaciones dentro de dos áreas de intervención principales (investigación y cooperación académica) cuyo objetivo final es diseñar el futuro planeamiento para las islas.

Resumen del trabajo de campo - Fuente: Exuma Topics

Resumen del trabajo de campo – Fuente: Exuma Topics

La misión de Ecosistema Urbano, dentro del marco general del proyecto, ha sido la de diseñar una serie de actividades y talleres para promover el diálogo dentro de la comunidad local, reflexionando sobre el futuro de las islas y dando a conocer la existencia y el contenido de este proyecto de futuro. Como desenlace final de este debate, se plantea la necesidad de materializar a muy corto plazo una intervención catalizadora en el espacio público de Georgetown, como señal de cambio y transformación para el futuro de la isla.

Mientras interactuábamos con la comunidad local, íbamos obteniendo información fundamental sobre cómo se sienten sus habitantes, cuáles son sus expectativas, su percepción, sus necesidades, etc. El debate se situó fundamentalmente entre dos escalas: el ámbito general de Exuma y el entorno local de Georgetown, la población principal del distrito, donde se desarrolla la mayor actividad social.

De entre los numerosos temas tratados han surgido algunos tan importantes como la alimentación, el suministro energético, la educación, los residuos, el agua, el transporte, el turismo, la identidad o las infraestructuras.

Ha habido momentos fantásticos de reflexión colectiva sobre el presente y el futuro de este entorno tan bello y frágil a la vez; y ha sido especialmente interesante escuchar a los más jóvenes, quienes a pesar de su corta edad, tienen una visión muy clara de cuáles son los retos y problemas que les afectan y que deben afrontan para mejorar sus expectativas de futuro.

Llegando a Gran Exuma

Las herramientas y talleres que hemos puesto en práctica para sondear los deseos y aspiraciones de la comunidad local han sido los siguientes:

1. Street photo tour

Nuestro amigo y extraordinario fotógrafo, Emilio P. Doiztua, nos ha acompañado en este viaje, realizando un magnífico registro de muchos de los participantes y las actividades. Creímos importante recoger los testimonios tanto de aquellos que querían participar en las actividades más organizadas, como de los que preferían expresar sus ideas de manera espontánea en la calle, a la salida de la Iglesia o del mercado. La gente se mostró muy abierta a participar y contestar nuestras preguntas.

Algunas de las fotografías tomadas durante el "tour"

Algunas de las fotografías tomadas durante el “tour”

2. Creative workshops

Durante esta semana hemos realizado actividades en los colegios de educación primaria de St. Andrew’s, Moss Town, Georgetown, Williams Town y en el Instituto L.N. Coackley High School, trabajando con jóvenes de entre 7 y 18 años. Paralelamente se han realizado dos encuentros con adultos, ambos en St. Andrew’s Community center.

Como ejercicio detonante, diseñamos un set de 2 preguntas, utilizando los colores rojo y azul, para simbolizar los cambios necesarios y los sueños deseados respectivamente. Cada entrevistado y participante debía responder a estas dos sencillas cuestiones, como ejercicio individual para después proceder a un trabajo de reflexión colectiva, trabajando en grupos de 4 ó 5 personas.

Azul y rojo, sueños y cambios

Azul y rojo, sueños y cambios

Muchas y muy distintas han sido las respuestas, y ha sido muy interesante constatar la claridad de ideas que tienen los más jóvenes (7-10 años) a la hora de sugerir cambios y proponer ideas, tanto sobre su entorno más inmediato (su colegio, su barrio, su ciudad) como del contexto más amplio, Exuma.

Al final de cada taller, a través de un sencillo ejercicio de origami, las páginas rojas y azules que simbolizan los cambios deseados o los sueños de futuro, se convierten primero en pétalos y más tarde en flores de papel.

Plantillas usadas para las propuestas y el origami

Plantillas usadas para las propuestas y el origami – clic para ver y descargar en alta resolución

Proceso de plegado del origami

Proceso de plegado del origami

Para los ejercicios colectivos se ha trabajado con fotos aéreas, palabras, producción de collages y escenificación. Se ha realizado una reflexión a 3 escalas: Exuma, Georgetown y a escala más local, sobre un espacio público vital en la ciudad, el lugar más frecuentado a diario por niños, jóvenes y familias.

"The park", el principal espacio público de Georgetown

“The park”, el principal espacio público de Georgetown

Este espacio es un lugar de encuentro natural para los jóvenes y tiene un gran potencial como espacio para la interacción social de la isla por su proximidad a la laguna Victoria y por encontrarse en el centro de Georgetown.

Ubicación de este "parque" en Georgetown

Ubicación de este “parque” en Georgetown

A lo largo de una semana recibimos infinidad de ideas y propuestas para transformarlo y dotarlo de mejores instalaciones, más funciones y permitir que sea un espacio público más activo, inclusivo y confortable. Algunas de las ideas recogidas incluyeron: sombra, juegos infantiles, mobiliario urbano, agua, wifi, gradas, huertas urbanas, jardín, zonas deportivas, eventos culturales, conciertos, etc.

Añadiendo propuestas al panel de exposición

Añadiendo propuestas al panel de exposición

Puesta en común

Puesta en común

Puesta en común

Puesta en común

Trabajando en los "pétalos"

Trabajando en los “pétalos”

Algunos niños posando con sus propuestas

Algunos niños posando con sus propuestas

Aprendiendo y enseñando a plegar el origami

Aprendiendo y enseñando a plegar los papeles

Empiezan a aparecer “flores”

Mostrando el resultado

Mostrando el resultado

En un instituto local

Using the digital application

Usando la aplicación digital

Adults workshop

Talleres con adultos, tanto turistas como locales

Sharing results and reflections

Sharing results and reflections

3. Digital Exuma: www.exumadreams.org

Como en otras ocasiones hemos utilizado, previa adaptación a nivel gráfico, la herramienta Whatif para recoger de manera digital las ideas de los participantes. La plataforma resultante, www.exumadreams.org está y seguirá estando activa durante los próximos meses como canal abierto de comunicación con todos aquellos que quieran mantener el diálogo y seguir participando.

Para los que no estéis familiarizados con la herramienta, Whatif es una aplicación web y móvil adaptada a la publicación de mensajes geolocalizados: los usuarios escriben sus ideas, opiniones o propuestas en 140 caracteres y las clasifican por categorías y ubicación, de modo que puedan ser consultadas, valoradas y compartidas en tiempo real. La desarrollamos como una herramienta para asistir procesos de participación ciudadana y creatividad colectiva, facilitando las tareas de consulta, prospección y visualización de una gran variedad de datos.

La aplicación es open source y está disponible para su libre descarga en la página oficial, en la que en breve anunciaremos una nueva versión bastante mejorada.

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la pantalla principal

exumadreams con whatif – captura de la pantalla principal

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la entrada al formulario

exumadreams con whatif – captura de la entrada al formulario

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de mapa

exumadreams con whatif – captura de la vista de mapa

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de mensajes

exumadreams con whatif – captura de la vista de mensajes

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de etiquetas

exumadreams con whatif – captura de la vista de etiquetas

www.exumadreams.org

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

El último día de la semana, realizamos una instalación con todas las ideas recogidas durante todo el proceso, un montaje efímero y simbólico de los deseos para Exuma, Georgetown y el espacio público de la ciudad. Un jardín de flores de papel rojas y azules, cada una de ellas de 5 pétalos con las diferentes ideas y deseos.

Este Jardín de sueños nos permitió mostrar a la comunidad local el trabajo realizado durante todo el proceso de talleres y actividades, al mismo tiempo que transformamos temporalmente el espacio público de Georgetown, atrayendo la atención sobre la necesidad de revitalizar este espacio.

Boceto de concepto para la instalación

Boceto de concepto para la instalación

En cada flor se instaló una micro-lámpara LED de luz intermitente, creando un efecto lumínico vibrante que contribuía a destacar la multiplicidad y variedad de las ideas recogidas. La gente paseó por el Jardín de los sueños leyendo y descubriendo las reflexiones colectivas.

La "flor" resultante

La “flor” resultante…

... y las flores formando un jardín

… y las flores formando un jardín

Personas visitando la instalación

Personas visitando la instalación

Personas visitando la instalación

Personas visitando la instalación

Vista nocturna de la instalación

Vista nocturna de la instalación

Vista nocturna de la instalación

Vista nocturna de la instalación

Otra vista nocturna de la instalación

Otra vista nocturna de la instalación

Una vez de vuelta, comienza el trabajo de laboratorio. Procesar todo el material recogido y transformar los deseos y sueños de los habitantes de Georgetown diseñando una intervención catalizadora para este espacio público tan importante para la vida de esta comunidad.

Más información sobre el proyecto:
www.sustainableexuma.org
www.exumatopics.org/about

Más fotografías sobre el proyecto en su página de Facebook

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

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

Cheers from Exuma!

¡Saludos desde Exuma!

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ecosistema urbano lecturing in Canada

Category: events+news+⚐ EN

University of Toronto - Photo by bobistraveling on Flickr

University of Toronto – Photo by bobistraveling on Flickr

Next 28th and 29th October Belinda Tato will be giving two lectures in Winnipeg and Toronto, Canada.

Belinda will talk about past and current works of ecosistema urbano including the Energy Carousel in Dordrecht, the dreamhamar network design project for Hamar, and the design of the new experimental Educational Centre for the Reggio Children Foundation in Reggio Emilia.

Two days, two lectures

Two days, two lectures

So if you happen to be around those days, you’re invited to come by and meet Belinda!

More information:

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Ecosistema Urbano at the IE Master in Architectural Design

Category: ecosistema urbano+news+⚐ EN

ie master in architectural design - click to visit official page

Jose Luis Vallejo and Belinda Tato will be taking part in the IE Master in Architectural Design kicking off this Autum in Madrid.

The IE Master in Architectural Design seeks to bridge the gap between the existing fragmented post-professional architecture courses and the ever shifting reality of the professional practice. This will lead to a strengthening of two fundamental foundations of the profession: scientific-technological knowledge and an awareness of the underlying contemporary cultural base. This knowledge, combined with entrepreneurial and management skills, clearly plays a key role in understanding the complexity and scope of the profession when it comes to preparing architects to lead interdisciplinary professional teams.

You can read more about the program, faculty, facilities and admissions at the Official website

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Last days for registration | International Summer School in Sardinia

Category: ecosistema urbano+events+sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

Solanas from Capo Boi hillsummer university

Next Thursday June 20th registration will be closed for the International Summer School, in which more than 20 teachers and 40 students will develop new forms of architecture, particularly related to tourism, in the valley of Solanas and in the coastal area in the south-eastern part of Sardinia.

Did you miss that call? Here is the original post about it: Coastal Landscape Architectures | International Summer School in Sardinia

Visiting Solanas

Important information:

Registration is closing on June 20th!
Save the dates: July 3rd – July 13th
Special deal for European students: 50 € fee + 100 € for 10 days lodging
Learn more about this experience: coastal-landscape-architectures.blogspot.it