Us humans, we walk. That’s how it is.
In cities, walking might be a trivial action, but is also an opportunity to deconstruct the way we move, rethink the relationship between our body and the space around us, reinventing our conception of public space. When we shift the barriers of our environment, this simple act of walking has the capacity to shake up our understanding of space, but also our interaction with cities and the people in them. Then the more we walk, the more the city transforms, and we walk happier.
In March 2018, the Wellesley College in Boston (one of the oldest universities on the american east coast – still for women only), invited us to give a series of workshops as part of their Concert Series. Professor Jenny Olivia Johnson hosted members of our creative team, Mouna (co-founder), Rebecca (product and environment design) and Eva (technical lead) in her class, Studies in 20th Century Music: Interactive Sound Art with Electronics.
Together with her 18 students they worked to co-design and build an interactive sound installation prototype. In this collaborative effort they envisioned what would happen when a trivial sidewalk moves, shakes, rings, sings, rises or rotates… An opportunity to continue experimenting with the art of walking, a theme we presented a few times in our projects, such as Mesa Musical Shadows.
On Saturday, March 17 at 4:00 pm, Mouna will give a talk about participative design at Wellesley College, followed by a public presentation of the students’ prototypes.
More infos about this event
More about the art of walking:
Jean Verville’s dancing golden avenue
Hamish Furton’s walking performance
Walking on water with Christo in Italy
Written by MELISSA, FADY, and SARAH
As part of continuing work on collaboration in public spaces, we were invited along with our sister company Infinite City to host a workshop at the 2016 New Cities Summit held in Montréal. Surrounding the theme ‘The Age of Urban Tech’, the summit attracted 600 world-leading civic innovators and provided a diverse exploration in urban innovation at the hopes of empowering citizens in the thick of technology.
The challenge: urban spaces and cooperation
Can we create cooperative experiences where people dare to do something new and celebrate a collective pride of their cities? What kind of impact do these projects generate?
For our workshop ‘Reviving public spaces through cooperation’ we gathered a group of urban enthusiasts from a diverse set of backgrounds and had them imagine their own solutions for activating a public space through collaboration. Zooming in on the urban narrative of cooperation, we used The Swings as a benchmark for a project that has earned a proven track record to positively impact public spaces. We presented hard data that was generated from sensors located inside the swing seats and both soft data and evaluation criteria from an impact study we commissioned the CLUE Group to do in West Palm Beach and Detroit.
Sunshine research and ideation
Using the space as context to collectively imagine a project, we brought a group of 50 participants to Quartier des Spectacles to survey the site, the people and the stories. Former home of the city’s red light district, the area encompasses 8 public spaces with cultural programming, 80 cultural venues and 450 cultural enterprises. The site receives a large amount of foot traffic yet lacks a layer of human connection and playfulness.
Participants were split into two type of groups – site and people – to observe the space and engage with passersby. Fresh groups were then formed to brainstorm site-specific urban scenarios of cooperation based on their investigations. We also encouraged participants to create their unique set of criteria and to imagine the potential impact of their ideas.
Quick and dirty ideas were put forward, such as collaborative BBQs and communal food events in which members of the community take turns cooking for each other, the development of a site-specific platform between locals and tourists and greening pre-existing urban furniture and landscape in the area (made primarily of concrete). All groups agreed that bridging the physical to the digital is a compelling and much-needed exercise. All in all, the workshop proved the potential in bringing people together to collaborate on a common endeavour.
Join us in Austin, TX for round 2 this October at SxSW ECO.
Hé, nos amis francophones! LaPresse ont parlé de l’évolution des balançoires et du concept de l’atelier. Lisez l’article ici pour en savoir plus.
Psst: Shoutout to John Marcicky, Director of Public Space Activation & Placemaking at Rock Ventures LLC (and key player in bringing The Swings to Detroit this winter) for being an excellent undercover workshop participant.
This summer, we were proud to assist the town of Lac-Mégantic (QC) in the process of reinventing itself. The town sadly gained notoriety in 2013, when a freight train derailment of 72 crude oil tank cars caused a massive fire that destroyed the downtown area and took 47 lives.
We were invited to join the rebuilding efforts by creating a path to connect Lac-Mégantic with its new town centre.
The town, having lost most of its public places, was in need of a space for gathering. Lac-Mégantic is world-renowned for its starry skies (Mont-Mégantic is in fact the first International Dark Sky Reserve). With this in mind, we created a set of giant hammocks (30 x 7 ft.) at the end of our foot-path, for people to come together and look at the sky. The hammocks offer a friendly public space for people to watch the stars, the clouds, soak up the sun, or have a picnic.
As Melissa recently mentioned, Daily tous les jours work has many different aspects. I never thought I’d one day be a weave-your-own-giant-hammock expert, but as we learnt a couple of things along the way, we figured we might as well share them.
So if you’re planning on weaving an oversized hammock for your oversized garden, this article might be the right place to start.