An innovative new advertisement for the UN World Food Program uses smartphone technology to fight world hunger. Two posters hang from the opposing walls of a bus stop to highlight the world’s inequitable distribution of resources. One features an image of a surplus of food at a grocery store, while the other reveals the jarring statistic that 870 million people worldwide suffer from hunger. Commuters can take a picture of one of the food items on one poster with their smartphones and virtually send the items as a donation to the World Food Program.
As the New York Times reported recently, China will undergo an unprecedented, large-scale urbanization effort as a result of another wave of “radical social engineering.” The plan, projected to take place over the next twelve years, will relocate 250 million rural residents into newly built cities and towns in an effort to grow the consumer class and strengthen the economy. The shift—which will undoubtedly have a profound impact on the everyday lives of the rural population—will create a new urban population close to the combined number of inhabitants within all American cities.
A Vienna-based performance collective called God’s Entertainment created a spectacle titled Human ZOO in Hamburg’s Kampnagel cultural center. The controversial installation displayed the city’s outcasts—homeless people, former criminals, single mothers, and punks—in cages to force passersby to view the city’s unwanted in a provocative way. In a city with a history of human zoos that showcased indigenous people, the performative installation made an aggressive statement about the social stereotypes that are still alive and well in Hamburg and in other large cities.
Swedish firm Belatchew Arkitekter’s current project, Strawscraper, is expanding the scope of energy-producing architecture. The structure will act as an “urban power plant,” using a wind-harvesting process called piezoelectricity to generate energy from the straw-like material covering the building’s exterior. At night, the straws will be illuminated to create the effect of a mesmerizing, colorful light installation.
This Urban Times article argues that diversity in cities is becoming jeopardized by city planning efforts to demolish iconic, organically formed community hubs. Public spaces that have become cultural institutions in their own right—such as the skateboarding mecca in London’s Southbank—have been formed naturally over time by people with shared interests, not necessarily shared backgrounds or experiences. The author describes how Southbank, New York’s 5-Pointz graffiti center, and other cultural spaces in the world’s most progressive and diverse cities are falling victim to development and city “beautification” projects.
OMA recently created a proposal for a bridge over the Garonne river that connects a housing development to the city of Bordeaux, France. OMA’s plan is one of the first attempts at creating infrastructure that serves a specific function while also acting as a dynamic, flexible public space. Rarely do bridges provide ample space for pedestrian traffic, much less public gathering; this proposal would designate one-third of the bridge for the use of pedestrians and programmed public space.Have a suggestion for Friday links? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your link, first name, and where you’re from. We’re excited to hear from you!