Archive for November, 2009


Thinking about a book…

Well folks…

It’s been a hectic week in urban planning land, and the pressure is only going to ratchet up as the end of term approaches. Right now I am swamped in notes about form-based codes, zoning regulations, bylaws, potential initiatives and subsidies. Did you know that the City of Montreal has a bylaw prohibiting street vending and has recently passed another which will effectively eliminate the beloved horse carriages of Old Montreal?

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into putting out a small street art and idea book in the new year. I’ve been thinking of how there is little overlap in terms of practical ideas on streetart, public space planning and design, and architecture, and the little bits that do exist are inevitably geared towards official, bureaucratic channels.

I’d like to put out a small, 40-page-maximum book with pictures of some of my streetart pieces, bits of writing about the Swap Box Project, and maybe pictures of other Swap Boxes that others have made around the world. I’d also like for it to include some ideas about what can be done with interactive street art and people/groups/organizations that one can network with to get more done…

I’ve also had a photojournalism student friend of mine follow me around on a streetart mission and take some pictures of a Swap Box in use…so when she gets back to me I’ll post some actual professional-quality pics.

(photos by Hadas Parush)


On planning, parasites and projects. And pranksterism

I’ve been pursuing my very own Grand Question for over a year now. That is the question of where the link between street art, architecture and urban design lies. And can one introduce memetics into the mix? I’ve gotten a lot of my ideas through images of others’ work that I’ve seen, and some of my best ones have come about through adapting other projects for the streets (for example, one of my original inspirations for the Swap Box was the Berkeley Free Store)

How then to design someting that is simple, easily replicable and also functional and useful (in that it improves its surroundings by creating new possibilities for public space)? Many projects which fit the first two categories really don’t work too well when the third is considered.

Then there’s the question of how to work my love for street art into urban planning and design (which I’m currently studying). I’ve found that when street art is mentioned in relation to architecture or urban studies in a non-negative way(and here I mean non-graffiti streetart) it’s the aesthetic that is being considered rather than the transformative potential.

One interesting idea which I recently stumbled on is that of Parasitic Architecture
I’m not personally sure where this concept originated- I think it came from Peter Cook’s Archigram Group- but I find it fascinating. Of course, the problem with any kind of design theory is that you’ve gotta sort through heaps of theoretical babble in hopes of finding one or two good inspirational ideas.

Cook, in some interviews, has talked about the need to create an urban environment that is amenable to addings-on. He’s designed a building in Lisbon that creates space for ground-floor kiosks and buskers within its exterior shell…

Would this be an example of something that inevitably breaks down and gets used by homeless people and junkies to the exclusion of all else? Or what could happen if passers-by and users took an interest in it?

Oh, and if you’re interested in some brilliant theoretical writings check out BLDG BLOG. It’s DRB in text form