New construction at New Mint Plaza
Started a 3 month internship this past month. Its going alright so far, but I dont think they are really interested in hiring any more people since its a small firm and evidently always have some interns around.
- 10 months ago
I realized I never uploaded final pictures of my Vellum Furniture Competition piece.
Also here is my associated essay regarding the piece.
Spontaneity and play are largely absent from the urban city. Indeed, the city is constrained and does not provide places where spontaneous social encounter can occur. In older cities, the public plaza or square served this purpose, but with the advent of digital communication and deemphasis on public space, this role has been relegated to more personal and individualized experience. Now people communicate virtually in an ad hoc way, draining to a great extent the urban life that was once such an important part of urban cities and societies. Additionally the move toward privatization and radical individualization has further eroded this sense of civic ‘publicness’. Places once the democratic dominion of the many are now co-opted into serving profit driven factors, which exclude any event or action that does not fit into its self serving goals. Malls are open to only those who are there to shop, corporate plazas subvert the role of the once democratic and open public space, and auto transportation atomizes individuals into separate and discrete bubbles, making difficult any spontaneous interaction between disparate social groups.
Thus a new urban space is needed to counteract these trends, or at a minimum provide a space once again in the city that can be a canvas where latent urban social potential can resurface or become recognized. As described by Henri Lefebvre in The Right to the City, there must be a renewed emphasis on play and spontaneity, and in fact these attributes are a right for any city dweller to be able to access urban life.16 Lefebvre argues that the city has always consisted of dichotomies, but today there is an overwhelming focus on one side of the urban characteristic continuum, atrophying the city’s latent potentials. Spontaneity and the planned, unity and individualism, organization and disorder; the pendulum has swung too far within these various urban qualities and a new space where the latent social potentials can be realized must be created in order to reinvigorate our urban centers.
The overemphasis on bureaucratic organization and profit driven exclusivity in urban space has banished the notion of spontaneity and random play almost entirely from the city. Spaces in which people can exercise control, authorship and creativity will enrich the city and provide outlets for possibilities inherently discarded and suppressed in ultra-planned compartmentalized cities. As seen in William Whyte’s film “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces”, people feel more comfortable and can express themselves to a much higher degree when they feel or are given an explicit option of choice.17 In the film, many urban spaces are studied. How and why people use particular spaces, and what qualities make or preclude certain possibilities is the focus of the film. Of particular note is how movable chairs, a seemingly banal gesture, allows people to take a direct control over their surroundings and be able to shape their environment to the given social, environmental and climatic conditions. People can move the chairs into groups, into the shade, or anywhere they like. People will even move a chair a few inches when they sit down just to assert their authorship over their decision to place the chair and use it in the precise way they wish. Thus there is an inherent value in this sort of small gesture, because it shows that people if given the option to do so, will more often than not, exert an authorship over their immediate environment to their given desires. By having a movable piece of urban furniture, this allows for whatever desire the person has to be played out and to allow for a reaction to a dynamic social environment.
Similarly, play allows for a spontaneous and constructive outlet while simultaneously fostering a sense of socialization between potential groups. Random individuals come together to witness fleeting spectacles and happenings in the city, and novelty is enticing. Play in cities allows for the spontaneous release of latent potentials as described by Lefebvre, and creates a socialization factor in the immediate surrounding. Simply put, people want to be where other people are, as articulated by Jan Gehl in Cities for People.18 Therefore, the freedom and possibility to play has the power to catalyze spontaneous spectacle and socialization.
Chairs is public settings are often monolithic, immobile and inflexible. As such, most public benches are stationary and relegated to being in a fixed location indefinitely. Despite any changing condition, they are an accessory to the architecture and often do not propagate an effective use. Changing weather conditions leaves some benches unused. Solar changes throughout the day may make certain locations pleasant and others hostile to use, comfort or desire. Changing groups and users make linear configurations inadequate and inappropriate, other forms too rigid and unresponsive. In the face of these issues, a chair that is capable to respond to dynamic changing conditions and allow for user control would be beneficial and novel. The Roulette chair seeks to introduce a metric of play and changeability into the public chair.
The form of the chair allows the piece to be manipulated and explored. The chair’s form is a ring, similar to a tread, which allows the chair to be mobile. Users can lift and roll the piece to new locations and settings. The piece can be both utilized individually and in a group. The amorphous form of the chair suggests a use, but invites and necessitates the input of the user to discover a viable chair siting position possibility. Multiple chair varieties are designed into the chair framework, but the individual is free to manipulate the chair to discover to what degree and how many different configurations there are within the chair and ultimately which position best serves their desires and function. The spectacle of the chair provides an impetus for social interaction and socialization. Strangers may vocalize and converse with each other or stare as users manipulate the piece. A double seat configuration is also embedded within the framework of the chair, but requires two people to collaborate in order to access it. Thus some configurations of the chair become inaccessible unless there is a direct interaction between two or more people to realize certain aspects of the chair; it demands some sort of interaction. Here the chair can become a mechanism to activate playful behavior and allow for customization and authorship by different users. Interactions and collaboration between users are necessary and create socialization in the pursuit of common goals. As such the Roulette chair could be deployed in order to catalyze latent urban social potential and act as a catalyst for creativity and interaction in a variety of urban spaces, and in doing so, allow for a more spontaneous and fulfilling city.
- 11 months ago
- 11 months ago