SHIFTboston: Barge 2011 Design Competition

SHIFTboston has announced another in their increasingly impressive lineup of design competitions to consider future design and architecture opportunities for the city of Boston. THINK: FLOATING SENSORY EXPERIENCE has a deadline of 4 March. More info from SHIFTboston follows:

SHIFTboston is calling on architects, installation artists, designers and landscape architects professionals and students to design an experience installation on a barge in Boston’s Fort Point Channel. Competitors are asked to develop a concept which might include one or all of the following components: recycled/recyclable materials, water, plants and perhaps digitally fabricated parts. We would like designers to create a unique SENSORY EXPERIENCE for barge visitors by experimenting with a variety of interesting materials and applications in order to provide a TACTILE, OLFACTORY and VISUAL experience.

We expect elements such as: water (spray, steam, shallow pools, piping), comfortable lounging spaces, lighting, sound. We would like competitors to explore a closed-loop system. We prefer design elements which will NOT require grid-based energy. Competitors should seek alternative energy sources, laws of physics and environmental fluid mechanics.


  • The winner will present his/her concept at the SHIFTboston BARGE Forum at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston on Wednesday, March 23, 2011.
  • The winning design will be fabricated and installed on a barge. The finished barge will be open to visitors during the months of September and October of 2011.
  • All finalists and eligible entries will be promoted on the SHIFTboston blog and website and will be come part of the SHIFTboston BARGE book.

Stefan Behnisch, Principal and Founder of Behnisch Architekten, Stuttgart Germany, Venice CA, and Boston MA
Michael Cantalupa, Senior Vice President of Development of Boston Properties, Boston MA
Kathryn Dean, Principal of Dean Wolf Architects, New York NY
Olympia Kazi, Executive Director of the Van Alen Institute, New Yok NY
Timothy Kirwan, Managing Director of the InterContinental Boston
Matt Johnson, Associate Principal of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Boston MA
Richard McGuinness, Deputy Director of Waterfront Planning, Boston Redevelopment Authority, Boston, MA
Hillary Sample, Principal of MOS LLC, New Haven CT, Cambridge MA
Craig Scott, Principal of Iwamoto Scott Architects, San Francisco CA

Sponsors and Partners
The ICA/Boston
Boston Society of Architects
The Friends of Fort Point Channel
Barging IN

Madrid’s Ephemeral Bike Lanes

Madrid’s Luzinterruptus remain one of the most consistent collectives of urban creatives working today. Their latest work, Pedaleo Seguro (Pedal Insurance), applies their iconic light-based DIY urbanism to the city’s bicycle lanes. As they state on the project website (via my translation from the original Spanish):

On November 21 we decided to install more bike lanes in downtown Madrid. What we wanted our “ephemeral bike lane” action to show that at the heart of our city there are no possibilities to bicycle safely, so we must move to outlying areas so that cycling is a weekend activity instead of a real mode of transportation … [with this action]… we hope that some late-night rider might now be able to use these lanes.

More images by Gustavo Sanabria on the Luzinterruptus site here.

Buildings as Data Ports: Dead Drops

I posted this a while ago on the Urban Guide for Alternate Use site, but the more I think about it, the more I love the concept, so thought I’d bring the idea over here. German artist and open source tech pioneer Aram Bartholl brings location-specific data to new levels with his Dead Drops project. Using a USB memory stick and the superfluous supply of pock-marked buildings in NYC, Aram set up an offline data sharing network in the city’s streets. As he explains on the Dead Drops website:

‘Dead Drops’ is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. USB flash drives are embedded into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody in public space. Everyone is invited to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your favorite files and data. Each dead drop is installed empty except a readme.txt file explaining the project.

While I try to get over my frustration that Aram didn’t tell me about this when I saw him recently in Berlin, here’s Aram giving a DIY lesson on how to transform buildings in your own city into Dead Drop data points:

Dead Drops ‘How to’ – NYC from aram bartholl on Vimeo.

You can check out his flickr gallery for more shots of him installing Dead Drops in New York, or go forth and install your own and register its location on the Dead Drops Database here.

Design for the Moon Competition Winners

Moon Capital Winner: "LPS: 2069" by Bryna Andersen

SHIFTboston has run some fantastic design competitions lately (discloser – I have been on the jury for one of them). Their Moon Capital competition is their latest offering of “What If…” competitions, asking designers and architects to think outside the box planet to imagine future opportunities. As they summarise the competition:

When considering the future of design let’s start looking out into space. WHAT IF we could occupy the Moon only 100 years after our first visit there in July of 1969? Might the Moon become an independent, self-sustaining, and sovereign state? If so WHY NOT start designing for that new world NOW?

They have just announced the winners on their blog here. Some excellent imaginative ideas worth checking out. I particularly liked the tag line for their first call for ideas for creating future cities on the moon “let’s not screw it up this time”.

Finalist: "Lunar-Base" by G. Leech

Upcoming Talks in Linz and London; Apologies to Berlin

Over the next two weeks I will be speaking at two public symposiums which explore important aspects of the future design of our cities, so I wanted to spread the word here and recommend that anyone in the respective cities of London or Linz come along and join in.

On Wednesday 13 October I will be speaking about Urban Play and my “City as Platform” approach to design in the city at the Interactive Architecture symposium, held at Metropolitan Works, 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB. Joining me will be Jason Bruges of Jason Bruges Studios, Michael Spencer of Sound Strategies, Usman Haque of Haque Design and research, Alexandros Tsolakis of UnitedVisualArtists, Eva Rucki of Troika and many others.

The following week I will be in Linz, Austria, speaking at the SuperStadt2010 symposium on Wednesday, 20 October. I will be delivering a talk titled “Open Strategies for Designing the Urban,” describing, well, I suppose the title says it all.

Unfortunately, my time in Linz will prevent me from being able to be in Berlin on the same day for the Exchange Radical Moments Congress, at which my Urban Guide for Alternate Use project will be launched.

Design Intervention in Cambodia: Nothing Design’s Solar Light Trees

Being a huge advocate of the value of DIY design interventions, I also find equal, and at times greater, merits in design projects that harness the ethos of design interventions to offer precise and quick solutions to the needs of people and communities.

Nothing Design Group‘s recent installation of a series of superbly designed solar powered street lights in the World Cultural Heritage site of Angkor Wat, Cambodia, is a model project along these lines. The area had no problem attracting tourists, but it lacked one vital ingredient to encourage them to venture out at night to integrate more with the local population and its income generating markets: public lighting.

Designed in their trademark nature-inspired style, the “light trees” created by the Korean practice were strongly embraced (at times, literally), by the local community, who gathered together to help install them alongside the designers.

As soon as the lights were installed, tourists began exploring the surrounding areas more, and makeshift markets began forming beneath the lamps in the evening, providing a secondary income source to many local people and increasing the nightlife of the area for local residents.

DIY Night Markets Assembling Beneath the Lights

I had the pleasure of working with Nothing Design on the Fishes in the Sky part of Urban Play in Amsterdam, and was immediately impressed with their direct, simple approach to problem solving and improving people’s experiences through their work. Nice to see them reach another level with this one

Urban Intervention Re-Imagines CCTV in Lisbon

If there are two things I love, it’s serendipity and clever urban interventions. As I was working on my Urban Guide for Alternate Use today the two came together when Collective CC in Lisbon sent me some images of their latest intervention, Senioritas.

As most who live in or visit Lisbon and most southern European cities will know from experience, there exists an eagle-eyed population of women who spend their days keeping watch over the street outside their window, one phone call away from reporting any wayward activity to the police – in effect, functioning as an alternate version of CCTV in these neighbourhoods. So within Collective CC’s intervention – in addition to the clever re-contextualization of the role these women serve – is another great visual joke. The signs that Collective CC has secretively placed beneath these women’s windows is a perfect copy of the omnipresent Securitas security/CCTV company visual identity.

There’s nothing about this project that isn’t superb. Well done, guys, and thanks for sharing.