Artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s public art project, Voice Tunnel, in the video above, transforms the Park Avenue Tunnel into a 1,400-foot light installation as part of the New York City Summer Streets festival. Visitors’ voices transmitted through an intercom are recorded and looped on a track sending pulsating beams of light and sound into the tunnel’s archway by using 150 loudspeakers and 300 theatrical spotlights.
Check out how these maps of 275 geotagged tweets collected between January and April 2011 provide compelling information about how people use and activate urban infrastructure. While mapping geotagged Twitter activity can be largely inaccurate because many people do not share their geographic locations, the small sample of tweets that can be connected to a specific location reveals interesting patterns in transportation networks such as roads, public parks, office buildings, and ferry systems around the world.
Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake led a community beautification project in Heliopolis, a São Paulo neighborhood so dense that 120,000 inhabitants live within a one square-mile radius. Ohtake collaborated with local inhabitants to paint elements of the brick and concrete facades with vibrant colors to visually unify the neighborhood. Locals participated in each step of the initiative – from selecting the color scheme, to donating supplies, to painting the buildings. Ohtake said that the participants gained a “civic sense not by any concept handed to them by an architect, but by action, from results they achieved while making their own environment more beautiful.” While the project did not attempt to solve the larger problems within the community, it did promote collaborative approaches in planning and execution of a shared vision that positively affected daily life within the community.
Miami recently added another soaring residential tower to its skyline. Herzog and de Meuron’s latest project—Jade Signature—is a 57-story building made of stacked “contemporary houses in the sky,” each with views of the horizon and expansive outdoor terraces. Senior Partner, Christine Binswanger, describes the design as subtle. “In this tower, the details are making the architectural identity. Primary elements, such as cantilevering floor slabs together with walls projecting from inside-out, create a finely textured expression on the façade.”
Once known as the “Community of Hope,” Roseland, a neighborhood in South Chicago, has recently been known as the “Community of No Hope,” due to mounting struggles with crime and drugs. A group of local teenage girls decided to change their neighborhood’s image by taking a set of power tools in hand to transform a donated vacant lot littered with needles and debris into a playground. The small design/build project evolved into a community-wide effort. The girls led the initiative from the ground up, conducting hundreds of interviews to create the concept for the park,which took inspiration from the mountains and rivers of the Swiss landscape. They also learned all aspects of executing the plan—from tying knots to pouring concrete. The initiative is organized by a group called Tiny WPA – a program of Public Workshop, an organization that helps students contribute to their cities’ design. Tiny WPA, named for the Works Progress Administration started during the Great Depression, partnered with Demoiselle 2 Femme and Latent Design in an effort to identify communities that may benefit from youth interventions.
The city of Portland, Oregon has created a series of design guidelines that advocate for more interactive fountains in public spaces for community engagement and play, rather than conventional fountains. The Urban Times gives five examples of public spaces around the world that employ interactive fountains to provide a dynamic atmosphere for people to better engage with their environments.