Ideas are my trade. How they manifest themselves differs. When I’m not advising, lecturing, or working hands-on, I write: articles, books, white papers, and so on. A list of my books and publications I’ve contributed to can be found on my Amazon Author’s Page here.
Below is a sampling of some recent writings on cities, urban nature, resourcefulness, the relationship between trust and design, and more:
By Simply Repairing Infrastructure, We’re Missing Huge Opportunities to Make Cities More Resilient and Responsive to Citizens’ Needs
“Scott Burnham, author of Reprogramming the City, writes that in our era of limited budgets and resources, increasing the functionality of existing infrastructure is a necessary path forward.”
NatureStructure: Design That Plays on the Same Team as Nature
“Instead of combating natural forces, NatureStructure represents a new generation of innovative infrastructure that uses the powers and processes of nature as components, providing a framework for a sustainable and coexistent future.”
Read the full article here
Can Urban Innovation Meet Growing Needs?
“To unlock the full potential of our cities and solve pressing problems, we must re-imagine the existing urban infrastructure writes Scott Burnham”
Read the full article here
Ten Innovative Ideas Boston Should Embrace
“Urban Strategist Scott Burnham presents ten new ideas – inspired by cities around the world – that could revitalize Boston’s urban landscape.”
Read the article on boston.com here
Design With Cities, Not For Them
“…[the] city has all the resources it needs; the key to unlocking these resources is seeing the urban landscape not as the end result of a previous creative process, but as the beginning of a new one—a landscape to design with, not for.”
Read the full article here
Existing City Infrastructure can be ‘Reprogrammed’
“Across the world, innovative solutions to urban needs are emerging from new uses for existing structures and systems. Officials are joining hands with engineers and corporate R&D teams to improve access to essential resources like water, energy and sunlight, and increase social and environmental wellbeing, by reimagining the potential of the resources they already have.”
Motioning for Transport
“The existing systems for transporting bodies around cities is challenged to keep pace with the numbers, types, and desires of their mobile residents. Due to the lethargy, negativity, or shortsightedness of many city or state municipalities, the citizens have taken it upon themselves to address the matter. A variety of inventive efforts have been enacted in urban centers worldwide, with the improvement of daily life in mind.”
“New Needs Need New Techniques: Urban Intervention, Design and Play”
Author of chapter for the book “Superstadt! Zur Zukunft der Stadt zwischen Linz, London und Ramallah” (SuperCity! The future of the city between Linz, London and Ramallah).
Other authors and essays include: Sabine Pollak – interpretation of public space in Vienna, Tehran, Casablanca, Berlin, New Orleans, Zagreb, Detroit, Linz; Regina Bittner – bazaars and urban beaches; Thomas Edlinger – the normality of emergency rule in the West Bank; Tex Rubinowitz – the Eritrean capital, Asmara; Milica Topalovic – informal Belgrade.
Boston Society of Architects: The Resourceful City series
A four-part series detailing strategies for creating a “Resourceful City” by reprogramming existing urban infrastructure to serve new urban functions and employing agile and malleable responses to the often rigid urban environment.
Trust Design: Public Trust
The final installment of the 4-part publication series I wrote and edited for Volume / The Archis Foundation as part of my research into the relationship between trust and design with Premela, Netherlands Institute for Design. From the privatization of national assets to the confusing hybrid of public-private spaces that increasingly define our public urban experience, we are quickly having to re-learn relationships between private and public interests. What role does design play – what role could it play – in bridging the divide and repairing trust between the realms of private and public interest.
Trust, Participation and Innovation
Article written for New Delhi, India’s Center for Knowledge Studies in advance of my participation in their Design Public conclave. A piece emphasizing the importance of “trust, participation and innovation becoming part of our shared design, urban and social narrative.”
Roadsworth has been one of the most influential street artists in recent years, instrumental in shifting the public’s perception of street art. I wrote the introduction to this definitive overview of his work. An excerpt from my intro: “Roadsworth’s work plays with more than the visual language of the city; it plays with our relationship with the city. It returns us to the moment in our youth when the streets and sidewalks could hold moments of our play and humanity, before we learned that they were the domain of structure and order. His work asks questions in a streetscape of absolute instructions, and invites double-takes and smiles in areas where you’re supposed to be quiet and fall in line.”
Trust Design: The Internet of Things
As a key part of my work as project director for Trust Design at the Netherlands Institute for Design, I am Editor and primary author of the Trust Design series of publications, done in conjunction with Volume Magazine. Trust Design explores the role design can play in creating trust in the objects, urban spaces and services we use.
Trust Design and The Internet of Things explores trust and design in a world of data-enabled devices and public spaces. Authors and practitioners I worked with on this issue include Bruce Sterling, Kevin Kelly, Joost Grootens, Adam Greenfield and Julian Bleecker.
Platform 21 – Curatorial Cooking
From 2006-2009 Platform21 functioned as an incubator for a new to be built design museum in Amsterdam. I was fortunate to work with Platform21 during this time, and within this publication I outline some thoughts on new creative strategies. Platform21’s open, DIY approach to showcasing creativity will be missed, but lives on in thought with this publication.
Finding the Truth in Systems: In Praise of Design Hacking
A publication commissioned and published by the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, London, exploring design hacking as resourcefulness – the individual stepping in when the products and systems we are offered fall short. In the text I explore ways in which this is being done as a response to both the limitations of resources and economies in the developing world, and the imbalances which exist in the products, systems and cities of developed regions.
After being featured on Core77, in BusinessWeek, and many other media outlets, you can now get a copy for yourself via the link below.
Published in collaboration with Droog Design, Droog Event 2: Urban Play is the celebration of creativity in the city. Urban Play demonstrates unauthorized interventions in public space by artists and creative minds from all over the world. Urban Play also encourages city dwellers to be creative. Acknowledged international architects and designers, like Stefan Sagmeister (New York), NL Architects (Amsterdam) and Martí Guixé (Barcelona) were invited to create projects along the banks of the IJ-river in Amsterdam, that challenge the citizen.
Featuring an unparalleled collection of urban intervention images from around the world, the book was curated and edited by Scott Burnham, with contributions from Usman Haque, Dan Hill, Richard Reynolds and others.
Eventful Cities: Cultural Management and Urban Revitalisation
Given my years as Creative Director for Urbis, the UK’s Centre for Urban Culture, I was asked by CAA Reviews to review this book on, culture as a tool for urban regeneration. Unfortunately, the review is behind a paywall, so here’s the bite-sized review: A solid, well-researched book that covers most of the many facets of cultural management and urban revitalisation; too much focus on top-down, “official” cultural projects, whereas the true differentiator for a city’s cultural vitality is often through the informal, grass-roots cultural activity. Available on Amazon here.
Visualizing the City
Co-Author; Chapter Author: The VJ of the Everyday: Physically Remixing the Urban Visual
“Bringing together a wide spectrum of urban contexts, Visualizing the City’s diverse essays explore visual representations of urbanism and modernity reflected through the prism of global cultures using an engaging variety of methods and texts.”
Available for purchase on Amazon here.
Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial
Article: Hong Kong Creativity: Contemporary Vernacular
Essay: The Authenticity of Action: Urban Play and The Nameless City
An essay contemplating the role urban objects and ephemera play in our narrative relationship with cities.
CITY: Analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action
Essay: The Call and Response of Street Art and The City
An essay on the role that site-specific urban intervention has in our physical relationship to the urban landscape.
Article: Urban (re)Design / New Alphabet Street
An overview of how urban intervention is reshaping our relationship with the city.
Article: The Urban Guerrilla / Santiago Cirugeda
Article: Street Art: The Fourth Wall / Mark Jenkins
An overview of street artist Mark Jenkins.
Article: Customised City
“Will Alsop is one of the most celebrated and controversial architects working in the UK today… This is a definitive guide to Will Alsop’s unique urban vision, as the book weaves a narrative through the rich visual flair of Alsop’s imagination to tell the story of a near future in which we may come to live.”
Ill Communication II
“Featuring exclusive photographs, sketches and images of the work of ten of the world’s most highly respected street artists including Dave Kinsey (Los Angeles), Swoon (NYC), Dave ‘Skwerm’ Ellis (NYC), Kami (Tokyo), Sasu (Tokyo), Os Gemeos (Sao Paulo), Fakso (Milan), Marok (Berlin), Loomit (Munich), Influenza (Rotterdam). The book also instigates a much-needed dialogue examining post-graffiti’s move from the street to the gallery and its new-found legitimacy as an art-form.”
Dtroit: The Art, Music And Culture Of The Motor City
“Once a model of the modern industrial city, the collapse of the automobile industry, the 1967 race riots and the ensuring ‘white flight’ from the city to the suburbs gave birth to Detroit, a centre of urban decay and desolation. This full colour exhibition catalogue features the work of ten painters, photographers, filmmakers, graphic designers and musicians who explore the unique urban environment, social history and cultural memory of the city of Detroit.”