Posts Tagged ‘planning

18
Dec
10

Things of Interest…

Things that make me say “This is awesome!” these days:

The first is the work of Windsor’s Broken City Lab, an artist-led group that’s hard at work imagining new possibilities for run-down and neglected stretches of Windsor, Ontario. Windsor has been particularly hard-hit by the loss of good-paying industrial manufacuring jobs even before the latest recession came about and its close ties and proximity to the recession’s greatest urban victim, Detroit, make it an interesting bellweather for evaluating the recession’s economic and spatial impact on Canadian cities.

Broken City Lab also is involved in a number of urban installation projects aimed at getting Windsor residents to think more deeply about the urban spaces they interact with and consider how they might be improved.


They’re also involved in developing ‘micro-intervention’ pieces for use in improving small areas and helping educate residents about the potential for DIY-style urban improvement projects. Check out their Removable Garden Project.
As an urban planning student, I believe that any urban renewal or regeneration project must be driven in part by area residents and that the technologies, vocabulary and tools of the profession need to be made available and accessible to citizens. As a street artist, I believe that streetart can be used to temporarily improve an urban area in a manner that goes beyond just painting a pretty picture on a wall. It’s something that I’ve been trying to do with Swap Boxes for years now…

As well, two guys have created a rolling graffiti printer, which you can check out at Looptaggr . The idea of a dotted-and-dashed line stencil that could be spray-painted on sidewalks to create somewhat of an ‘urban treasure-hunt’ or a follow-the-line type of experience has interested me for quite some time.

A new and exciting update to McGill to Haiti is coming up soon. I’ve been derailed into a world of studio projects, deadlines, mayhem and confusing GIS maps which I’m only now starting to make some sense of…

07
Dec
10

Street Public Consultations

This is an absolutely fascinating urban design project which I love as a street artist, an urban planner in training, a visually-obsessed sorta-designer with an interest in grassroots-based planning and public awareness and as a longtime fan of New Orleans who went into urban planning with the idea of working in a disaster relief capacity.

The project is courtesy of urban planner/designer Candy Chang, someone who has managed to fuse urban planning and a passion for awesome art and design (something which I have been trying to do for what seems like ages). I have been spending part of the last two months thinking over the question of how I could transform something like the Swap Box Project or the Urban Journals into more of a thematic idea that could be used in the service of urban planning projects. They began as social experiments and evolved into means of ‘micro-revitalization’ that temporarily give a small area of public space a whole new interactive potential…
Swap Box

26
Jul
10

New Wheatpaste, and urban planning gripes

First of all, let me begin with a new updated version of the “Cirque Turcot” wheatpaste. I just gave it a slight tweak to make it look more like a circus poster.

I don’t think I’ve ever used this blog as a ranting podium for my commentary on certain urban planning issues. Then again, there is a first time for everything, and as I get back into the swing of another academic year and have less time for streetart I’d like to round out my often-infrequent posting with a bit of analysis and commentary on ongoing Montreal projects and decisions.

As of several months ago, the planning directors of Montreal’s McGill University decided that the streets of the lower campus were going to become a car-free zone- a decision which I wholeheartedly applaud. It was put forth with plenty of notice and opportunity for public consultation and input. What McGill’s planning board decided to do in tandem with this decision- prevent people from riding their bicycles on the lower campus streets- was not announced beforehand.

This policy flies in the face of both McGill University’s past lobbying for safe, accessible bicycle networks (which University representatives carried out during consultations for the Montreal Transportation Plan) and McGill’s own Master Plan, which calls for “…a greener, pedestrian-friendly Downtown Lower Campus, as free as possible of motorized vehicles” and for an increase in the number of bicycle parking spaces on and near campus.

The same Master Plan states that the Planning Office wishes to “…create people-friendly spaces that encourage conversation, reflection and the sharing of ideas”. I do not know how the Planning Office envisions this ‘sharing of ideas’ process taking place, but to me it involves a dialogue at the very least. And a dialogue has certainly not taken place. From what I have heard from friends who have attempted to contact McGill’s Planning Director, he has been ignorant and even hostile to their concerns. One friend who spoke to him personally said that he expressed an anti-cyclist frustration and mentioned his almost being hit by a cyclist in defense of his closing McGill’s Lower Campus to cyclists.

But maybe that’s just hearsay. The director of the Planning Office hasn’t responded to an email I sent him expressing my opposition to his decision and the means by which it was carried out yet, but if and when he does I will add it as an update. Maybe he won’t think a street artist is worth talking to, but that’s not the issue here. The issue at hand is a decision made without public input that flies in the face of McGill University’s record and actions on bicycle use.

17
Jan
10

New Streetart, and a question…

Well, I’ve been doing a bit of painting in what spare time I have these days, and this led me to start painting on cardboard. I ended up making a couple of streetart pieces, which I put up along Rue St. Laurent a few days ago. These three pieces were part of an art-giveaway series that I’m planning on working on, and so I just tacked them up lightly with a couple of thumbtacks.



And I’d like to toss this question your way, my dear readers. What would you say is wrong with the way that North American cities are designed today? I’ve been thinking about this question for a little while, and all I’m realizing is that I’ve gotten too close to the urban planning process to be able to come up with a satisfying answer.

I’ve felt for a while that the profession of urban planning pretty much trains its participants in the interpretation and use of a specialized language which in a way serves to maintain the position and power of a technocratic-interpreter class. However, I’m too entrenched in the specialized language of zoning right now (as per class requirements) and am looking for fresh perspectives. So therefore I toss this question out to you…

26
Dec
09

Swap Box Project in the news!

It looks like the Swap Box Project got some press. In the Montreal Gazette, specifically.

“First, there were random acts of kindness.

Then there was book crossing – the practice of leaving a good book on a park bench or a bus seat for a stranger to discover and enjoy.

The latest concept in the tradition of small acts of humanity in the urban jungle is the swap box – a receptacle for small gifts that invites people to help themselves and pass on the favour by leaving a trinket for someone else to find.”…

The reason this article reads so choppy and disjointed is that I wound up being interviewed via e-mail for something which was being rushed out. There are a couple flubbed or poorly chopped quotes of mine there…for example, while I love the Reflectorman Project I’ve got no intention of copying its robot characters. I have some ideas for using similar materials though…

On the topic of the Champ-de-Mars station redesign, I’ve been giving some thought to the idea of what a public park designed by a street artist would look like. I don’t want to mention too much and give too many ideas away, but I’m looking at interactivity and year-round connections. It has to be engaging, fun to look at and be in and open up a section of space to a wide range of possibilities.

Quebec has policies in place to give design contracts to sculptural and visual artists, and I’m definitely considering the question of what kind of public art to bring in. As I’ve said before, the problem with public art is that most of it is bland, useless and puzzling…

How then can one go from ephemerality to designing something semi-permanent? The former’s my art of choice. And this is the question that’s rattling round in my head.





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