In 1999, Stephen Powers stopped writing graffiti and dedicated himself to being a full-time artist. He used his Fulbright grant in 2007 to paint the streets of Dublin and Belfast. From there, he teamed up with other sign mechanics and executed a large-scale mural project in his hometown of Philadelphia titled A Love Letter for You. Those signs as well as his hand-painted love letters on the walls and roofs of Brooklyn, Syracuse, Sao Paolo, and Johannesburg are collected in a new book A Love Letter to the City.
Editor: Francesca Ferguson, Urban Drift Projects (eds.) In cooperation with the Berlin Senate for Urban Development
Makeshift implies a temporary or expedient substitute for something else, something missing. Make-Shift City extends the term to embrace urban design strategies. “Make-Shift City” implies a condition of insecurity: the inconstant, the imperfect and the indeterminate. It also implies the designing act of shifting or reinterpretation as a form of urban détournement. Austerity urbanism and the increasing scarcity of resources among the cities and boroughs of Europe in particular has far-reaching consequences for civic space. Where there is a lack of regular planning processes, gaps arise as open spaces that enable an ad-hoc informal urban design. What often results is a process of urban commoning: the renegotiation of shared spaces and shared resources. This urbanism of small acts is an emancipatory practice; a re-imagining of the city space and its potentialities.
Michael Ziehl, Sarah Oßwald, Oliver Hasemann, Daniel Schnier
At vacant sites, second hand spaces draw on the atmosphere, the traces, the remains, and the history of their previous uses. Their actors develop an individual aesthetic out of the site that stands out due to its simplicity and improvised quality. New ideas are tested, and elements of surprise are created in the city. Second hand spaces evolve against the background of different demands on urban spaces and provide opportunities for interaction, participation, and start-ups. They open up new courses of action for urban planning and at the same time make a contribution to the sustainable design of urban change.In nine essays, twenty-seven experts highlight the backgrounds, actors, and effects of second hand spaces based on fifteen projects from Europe, resulting in thematic links to current social discourses throughout the book.
My book review:
The idea of a new science of cities sounds catchy, particularly after it became popular thanks to a Geoffrey West´s talk at TED. It was a superficial but very effective way to show urban complexity through equations, graphics and a set of laws allegedly behind how cities work and grow. If you are familiar with this blog, you know I resist this idea or, in a few more words, the implications of over-simplifying urban studies into a patterns, predictability, etc.
Essays by F. Kaid Benfield
I co-wrote a book on successful complete street redesigns around the United States. If you’re interested in a free copy, visit http://www.rethinkingstreets.com to request one. We have a limited number left, but we’ll try to accommodate your request!
Adhocism. The case for improvisation, by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver, first appeared in 1972, but I had never bumped into it in the texts I usually handle or in anything related to my own work. It must be that I am still far from the design world, where it has been an influential resource. It was republished last year as an expanded and updated edition, precisely at a time when its spirit has gained renovated attention and, in my case, it connects with my interest on a less formalistic vision of the public realm.
Edited by Leonie Pearson, Peter Newton, Peter Roberts