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.
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:
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”.
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.
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.
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
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.
One of the drawbacks of living in London (and most other major metropolises) is that the ambient light from the buildings, street lamps, etc, make it impossible to see the stars in the sky at night. So when designer Oscar Lhermitte applied to the London chapter of the Awesome Foundation, of which I am a proud trustee, with the proposal “to recreate the missing stars in London”, we knew we had something Awesome to consider.
Oscar’s The Big Dipper project is an ongoing project which uses a combination of balloons, LEDs, and various control mechanisms to recreate stars and constellations in the night time sky over London.
He presented his project at the Awesome Foundation London award ceremony earlier this month along with four other strong contenders, and at the end of the evening, walked away with the Awesome Fellowship to advance his work. If you were unable to make it to the awards, you can see his presentation here on slideshare, and view his video overview of the project below (see it on vimeo here), which features some touching commentary from people on the street who have watched his experiments:
Congratulations to Oscar for an inspiring and Awesome idea.