Reviving public spaces through reusing existing urban materials.
Reviving public spaces through reusing existing urban materials.

Reuse of Existing Urban Materials as Design Strategy

Jesolo, Greater Venice, Italy

The city of Jesolo, Italy – Venice’s neighboring city – asked me to devise a design strategy for their public spaces to meet a number of the city’s goals.

Working directly with the city and its municipal work crews, I created a design strategy that uses the city’s existing stock of urban material and infrastructure as raw material for a new generation of public design in the city. Traffic lights, street poles, barriers, bollards, paving stones, and all urban ephemera in-between – all the physical urban components that have been removed from the city in the past year, and functional material that is in store for future use now becomes design source material.

Aided by a team of designers from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design in London and a selection of Italian designers and architects, we set out to transform some of the more overlooked and unloved areas of the city into destinations of wonder and enjoyment.

A barren space transformed into a misting, adult playground using the city's disused street lamp poles. Design team: Cristiana Favretto, Alexander Augustus, Seung Youn Lee, Manuel Di rita, Isabella Mara
A barren space transformed into a misting, adult playground using the city’s disused street lamp poles. Design team: Cristiana Favretto, Alexander Augustus, Seung Youn Lee, Manuel Di rita, Isabella Mara

The functional urban materials of the city weren’t the only existing asset that were put to new use in the city. I have always believed that the municipal work crews of the city possess an intricate knowledge base and skill set in working with the city’s assets that is never leveraged for full benefit in the city. In Jesolo I got the chance to explore the potential of using these invaluable skills in different areas.

Jesolo's master crafter of street lamp poles creating the Pipe City designs.
Jesolo’s master craftsman of street lamp poles creating the Pipe City designs.

Jesolo wasn’t only a chance to transform people’s relationship with urban space in the city, but their relationship with the physical objects of the city as well. Given access to the city’s stock supply of traffic lights, the team set out to not only reprogram their use, but to literally reprogram the functionality of the lights:

In order to transform them from an object of control, to an object of play, making a panel of traffic lights into a giant tic-tac-toe board to encourage strangers to join one another in a quick game while passing through a public area:

Traffic lights into public game. Design team: Varvara Guljajeva, Radha Mistry, Ilias Michopoulos, Diego Sepulveda-Herrera, Marie Durand Yamamoto
Traffic lights into public game. Design team: Varvara Guljajeva, Radha Mistry, Ilias Michopoulos, Diego Sepulveda-Herrera, Marie Durand Yamamoto

With its mile-long beach, Jesolo is unique in that disused umbrellas are an abundant  and often discarded material in the city. So what if we took the discarded umbrellas and re-imagined them as public seating:

umbrella_diagram

The transformation of how a space can be used with a few discarded umbrellas can be exceptional:

Design team: Lizon Tiju, Margherita Poggiali, Leticia Lozano, Laura Mergoni
Design team: Lizon Tiju, Margherita Poggiali, Leticia Lozano, Laura Mergoni