World Urban Development Congress

I’m pleased to share the news that I have been invited to deliver a keynote address at the World Urban Development Congress in Riga, Latvia this October.

I’ll be addressing the congress on the development of creative urban environments – should be an interesting session, considering that my definition of what makes an urban environment creative challenges a lot of the usual notions. But I guess that’s why I’m there.

Joining me as keynote speakers at the congress will be Rem Koolhaas OMA, Charles Landry, Janis Dripe, chief architect of Riga City, and the economist Robert C. Kloosterman. For a list of the speakers and bios, go here. For more information on the World Urban Development Congress, go here.

New Work From CutUp

Last night CutUp installed their latest batch of work throughout London. For those of you not (yet) familiar with CutUp, they specialize in physically remixing the urban visual, taking down billboards, cutting them up into pixels, and re-installing them to create new images out of the original source material. While my personal favorite medium of their work is large-scale billboards as above, I also enjoy their bus stop hits, where they hack the light box adverts with their own remix. Here, a Spiderman poster takes an unexpected turn:

Most satisfyingly though, last night I got to spend some time with the guys and talk more in-depth about their methods and process. What can I say – I heart CutUp. For more photos, see the flickr set here.

Viktor & Rolf & One Amazing Dollhouse

I attended to the Viktor & Rolf opening last night at the Barbican for one of the following reasons:

A) I decided I don’t spend enough time around supermodels
B) It’s been too long since I’ve spent an evening drinking rose-flavoured vodka cocktails
C) I was invited because of my relationship with Premsela

It was all celeb, glam and paparazzi, dahling, but hugely enjoyable in its own right. Fashion exhibitions are incredibly difficult to pull off, but this one is exceptional. The highlight, obviously, was the insanely huge doll house in the centre of the exhibition. Viktor & Rolf essentially re-created the entire exhibition, which surrounds the dollhouse, in miniature. If you’ve seen their website, this won’t be a surprise, but in the context of the exhibition, it not only added a layer of appreciation to their work, but also created the simple joy of smiling as you enter the space and see something truly fresh and exciting in a show. I really can’t recommend it enough.

However, with my recent time being filled working on Urban Play, I came across one piece in the exhibition that made me pause for a moment and mix wonder and appreciation for where some of their ideas come from:

Mark Jenkins’ “embed” to the left, Viktor & Rolf to the right. Coincidence? Discuss…

At the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture, Paris

At the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris today as part of the final jury for the architectural design class being taught by my friends Karsten Huneck and Bernd Truempler of Office for Subversive Architecture fame.

As with most student work, there was a healthy range of ideas and varying degrees of talent on offer, but overall it was an fairly impressive selection of new thinking towards architecture by the next gen (well, France’s next gen). One piece that really stuck with me as I was walking around after the day was a project by students Berenice Gaussuin and Clair Tournier.

With a brief to redevelop an old firestation, they presented some impressively polished and well-thought out plans to gut the interior of the firestation and create an organically developing natural space within the building. Their ideas and execution of the project as they presented it reminded me of a lot of the thinking done in the second part of the Shrinking Cities project and even more radical explorations in terms of designing for shrinkage instead of growth in cities. Some nice work coming out of the ESA, guided by OSA. All hail the power of the acronym!

Amsterdam Talk: Hacking Reality

As part of Platform 21‘s excellent Checking Reality program, I have been asked to give a talk on “Hacking Reality” this Friday at their space in Amsterdam, how the virtual world and digital culture is altering our interaction with the real world, in particular in the realm of street art and urban intervention. To read more about my talk, go here.

Friday 6 June, 20 00
Platform 21
Prinses Irenestraat 19
1077 WT Amsterdam

Report Out: Urban Intervention as Design Masterclass

Previously, on…

As I wrote last week, I was an instructor for UQAM’s (University of Quebec in Montreal) Design International Masterclass. My workshop functioned as an creative urban laboratory to explore the objects and areas of the city with a new approach to design and the city: how can shared spaces, objects, visuals and aesthetics be created which invite creative participation by the public?

To say I was pleased with the outcome would be an understatement. For a more visual overview and a play-by-play in French, with a cameo by some of Montreal’s city officials who wanted to get inside the concept a bit more, go here.

Guest Lecturer @ Design International

It’s been an inspiring week working with a team of about 40 advanced design students to explore the notion of urban intervention as a design process. The mission was simple: “The city as source material and canvas.” And with each day that passes, I’m continually impressed with the work coming out of the class. That, and the fact that the “Intervention Unit” van (above) is parked around the corner from the building. Coincidence?

Participating in these intense international workshops are always great fun – mostly because the students had to apply to get in, so they’re at their best, and also because the other guest lecturers from across the departments are all key players in their fields, so there’s also a great a vibe in the cafe in-between lectures, swapping ideas and contacts.

Come back soon for the flickr pool of resulting student work. You won’t be disappointed.