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