Archives For February 2011

Double Happiness

Riley —  February 25, 2011 — Leave a comment

For the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-City Biennial of Urbanism and Architecture, the architect Didier Faustino created the installation Double Happiness, a gutted billboard with two swings replacing the ad space. One of the coolest parts about this installation is that Faustino doesn’t think of it as a sculpture, he calls it an “urban reanimation device.” It isn’t just something visual, it’s meant to draw people on to it, to be an interactive component of the city.

Of the project, Faustino says: “Double Happiness responds to the society of materialism where individual desires seem to be prevailing over all. This nomad piece of urban furniture allows the reactivation of different public spaces and enables inhabitants to reappropriate fragments of their city. They will both escape and dominate public space through a game of equilibrium and desequilibrium. By playing this “risky” game, and testing their own limits, two persons can experience together a new perception of space and recover an awareness of the physical world.”

I think this is a really neat project because of the way it takes something that is typically ugly and inhuman and turns it into something fun. More than that though, it seems like the real value of Double Happiness is the perspective it offers to those who engage with it. Sitting high up on a billboard, swinging back and forth as you gaze out on the city before you, I think you’d have to feel a kind of connection to the city itself. It seems like it forces people to contemplate their urban environment and their place within it, which is something we should all do more often.


Rapid Urban Growth

Riley —  February 24, 2011 — Leave a comment

Over the last few decades, we’ve seen a rapid migration toward urban centers, a trend that is only expected to increase in years to come. I don’t have the statistics on hand, so I can’t throw out the big numbers (can anyone help me out here?), but most demographers agree that the human future is a metropolitan future. This trend has had big impacts on the physical structure of our cities, as more people require more housing, more services, and create a larger economy.

Web Urbanist just posted an article that showcases this infrastructural growth called ” The Stunning Speed of Urban Development.” It contrasts photos of the same area from different years, and for some of the cities the results are particularly mind-boggling. Take Dubai for instance.

These photos are from 1990, 2003, and 2007, respectively. Just 17 years ago Dubai was a remote desert area, but now it’s one of the most developed areas in the world. The even more startling example though is Shanghai, China, a city that we now think of as one of the economic and social center of China.

That image on top isn’t from way back in the past, it’s from 1990. In just 20 years a truly massive urban environment managed to spring up from a large town. These kinds of images really drive home how fast our cities our growing, and call attention to what kind of architectural and infrastructural solutions are called for in the world today.

Check out the rest of the images here.

“ONE PRIZE is an Annual Design and Science Award to Promote Green Design in Cities.” This year, they’re focusing on New York City, specifically its relationship to the water that surrounds it. This year there seem to be two One Prizes (what?), but both of them look really interesting.

“In April 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the New York City Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES), a citywide initiative that will create a new sustainable blueprint for the City 578 miles of shoreline. Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden said: Water is so important that we need to think of it as the sixth borough.

In April, 2014, New York City  will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of 1964 New York World’s Fair, dedicated to Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe. The fair is best remembered as a showcase of mid-20th century American culture and technology. More than 51 million people attended the fair. The nascent Space Age, with its vista of promise, was well-represented. 50 years later, it is time for New York City to showcase the 21st century promise of CLEANTECH.

ONE PRIZE announces an open call for proposals for:

I. NYC BLUE NETWORK linking NYC five boroughs with a series of green transit hubs incorporating electric passenger ferries, water taxis, bike shares, electric car-share and electric shuttle buses.

II. CLEAN TECH WORLD EXPO E3NYC expecting to host 10 miilion visitors from 5/1/2014 to 10/31/2014. The Expo will be organized into six zones, the five traditional boroughs as well as the water. Unlike capital intensive Olympics and World Fairs, Clean Tech World Expo will use existing and planned facilities, or new ones with a strong economic proposition.The goal  is to create the world’s largest urban clean tech corridor along the water and establish New York City as the ultimate green capital of the world.”

So if you’re looking for a new project or a side project for the spring, here it is. You have to register by April 30th, and submissions are due by April 31st. We’ll keep up with this contest and feature the winners when they’re announced in July. Get to it!

Check out the contest website or the downloadable design brief.