OPPORTUNITIES FOR URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE

What More...

could your city do with its existing structures, surfaces and systems?

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What If...

cities became more resourceful with the assets they already have?

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Call for Ideas and Projects for Stockholm

arkdes_call

 

In June 2015, ArkDes, The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, will launch Reprogramming the City: Stockholm.

As part of Reprogramming the City: Stockholm, ArkDes is issuing a call for ideas, proposals and existing projects that reveal the hidden potential of Sweden’s existing urban assets.

Do you have an idea or project that shows how an existing urban object, structure, surface or system could be reused or repurposed to do more in the daily life of the city? How could we be more resourceful with the things we already have in our cities?

This is the chance for Swedish architects, designers, engineers and artists to ask “What More…” could we do with what we already have in Sweden’s cities, and “What If…” a new resourceful approach was applied to the existing assets of Stockholm.

The deadline is 23 March 2015. For more information, you can download the PDF pictured above here, or contact Lotta Granqvist at ArkDes.

The call for ideas can be found on the ArkDes website here.

Looking for a Landscape

City: Cambridge, MA
Created by: Matthew Mazzotta

The large gray metal boxes found on street corners are objects of mystery to most people – they hum, buzz, click, lock, and frequently sport warnings that any tampering will result in prosecution, or death. In reality, the boxes are most often nothing more ominous than traffic signal control boxes, or power and telephone interchanges.

Matthew Mazzotta thought the anonymous gray boxes were worthy of performing more of a service to the public than going through life as public mysteries. After obtaining one of the hulking units, Mazzotta installed hinged doors and retractable seating to create an alternate reality in which members can open the structure for as-needed moments of public rest and relaxation. In the original manifestation of the project, Mazzotta installed binoculars at the front of each seat, transforming the functional gray box into “a viewing station of the everyday,” enabling the public to rest and explore their surrounding landscape for further adventure.

The entire structure is on retractable wheels embedded inside the concrete base. When the wheels are up, the box looks like a stationary, permanent part of the city. When the wheels are brought down by a cranking mechanism inside the base, they make contact with the ground allowing Looking For A Landscape to be moved to the next location of the city.

http://matthewmazzotta.com

Lampbrella

City: Saint-Petersburg, Russia

Created By: Mikhail Belyaev

Cities are full of sensors, monitoring traffic flow, air quality, security, light levels, and many more aspects of urban activity. With the increased attention paid to quantifying urban data and implementing more “smart city” sensory measurement and response technologies, more infrastructure will be paired with more sensors to do, well, more.

If a lamppost can be fit with a sensor to measure and report various amounts of data coming from the street so the city can respond accordingly to the needs of the city, can we ask the same lamppost to do something as simple as sense when it is raining and respond to the needs of passers-by at that moment to stay dry?

Lampbrella was designed by Mikhail Belvaey to do just that. Fitted with an umbrella top that remains closed during dry weather, it senses when it is raining and expands to provide shelter to those who have been caught out without umbrellas, or sheltered areas for couples wanting a private moment in the rain.

Designed with a 7ft 2in diameter, Lampbrella can offer shelter for several people, and is installed at a height of 6ft 5in to provide public shelter while not disturbing the flow of any but the tallest of pedestrians.

http://mikhailbelyaev.com 

A1 Charging Booths

City: Vienna, Austria
Created by: Telecom Austria

One definition of an innovative idea is when someone connects two dots others wouldn’t think of connecting. Telekom Austria had one dot on their hands – the one rapidly moving down a chart showing the number of people who were using their 13,500 phone booths. On another chart was a dot on a steep climb, showing that the use of electric cars in Austria was predicted to rise to 405,000 by 2020. So Telecom Austria connected the dots and began transforming the phone booths into electric car charging stations.

The switch of functionality for the existing booths is considerable, so Telekom Austria is moving forward in phases, making optimum use of existing assets along the way. In the first phase, the phone booths will use their communication capabilities to provide multimedia stations to offer on-street parking spaces and information for electric vehicles. Over the next few years, these stations will then be steadily upgraded, eventually offering the ability to charge multiple electric vehicles from one former phone booth.

During the initial trial period of the early stations, recharging is free. The company eventually plans to charge a single-digit euro sum for the recharging service, with payments to be made, seemingly without irony, via mobile phone. About 30 phone booths have made the leap to charging stations so far, with more to be steadily phased in.

http://www.a1.net/en/corporate/charging-stations

Photo Credit: A1, 2013

City Tickets

City: Boston
Created by: Mayo Nissen, with thanks to JD Hollis and Brian Del Vecchio

Parking meters keep watch over the passage of time in the city; and the city has watched as the passage of time has changed them. Long gone are the days when inserted a coin, ratcheted the knob and a marker popped up to tick away your allotted time. The clock dials gave way to digital countdowns, and individual meters gave way to the tall heavy structures that now run the racket for entire blocks; in some cities, no meter is needed at all as you can now pay for your spot directly from your smartphone.

But should these expensive units, packed with networking ability, payment systems, solar panels and computing power, and situated on every block, only be relevant to those looking for somewhere to park their vehicle, or should they be there for every person who shares the city with them?
City Tickets is one idea.

As its designer Mayo Nissen explains, “City Tickets is an exploration into how existing urban infrastructure can be repurposed to better serve all of the citizens of the city in which it is installed. Physical infrastructure is a tremendous resource and asset to the city, but as technology and priorities change, new approaches should be considered to make the best use of the existing ‘physical stock’ of the city.”

City Tickets proposes one option for the future of Multi-Space parking terminals, reframed as City Meters. As well as parking receipts, the meters dispense City Ticket Lists, with known issues that have been reported to the City authorities by phone, from Twitter, in person, or via the terminal itself. Also available are City Ticket Reports, allowing passersby to submit issues or make suggestions for improving the immediate area.

www.mayonissen.com

The Cascade

City: Hong Kong

Creator: Edge Design Institute

With an extreme density and the confines of its island terrain, Hong Kong residents are highly adept at maximizing the use of their city’s structures and surfaces. Morning Tai Chi sessions are held on the cement forecourts of large office buildings, street traders set up shop with specially crafted tables and stands which bolt on to public fences and posts, and the lighting of its waterfront corporate buildings are used for a choreographed ornate public light and sound show for the delight of tourists.

The Cascade is the manifestation of Hong Kong’s malleable relationship with its existing physical terrain. Its creators, Edge Design Institute, describe The Cascade as “an artificial landscape that responds to the unique topography of the site: a cascade of steps that creates a public thoroughfare and generates potentials for a delicately- scaled public space that have often been overlooked.”

Located at The Centrium in Hong Kong Central, The Cascade creates an aesthetically and socially engaging public space layered on top of the surface of one of the city’s countless functional stairways. Complete with Bauhinia trees, assorted greenery, individual and adjoining seating areas and a lighting scheme that changes with the area’s nighttime activities, The Cascade exists to provide a variety of private and public moments in the otherwise utilitarian commercial area, while illustrating the potential stored within public stairs everywhere. The Cascade blurs the boundary between pure artistic installation and pragmatic considerations, providing a layer of new use on top of an existing physical layer of the city.

http://www.edge.hk.com/

Light Therapy

UMEÅ, SWEDEN

Umeå Energi

In global quality of life rankings, Sweden consistently ranks as one of the top nations in which to live. Yet in the dark winter months, the residents of Umeå, Sweden, 300 miles north of Stockholm, may not celebrate their high position on the quality of life index as much as regret their high position on the earth, which gives them only a few hours of sunlight a day in the depth of winter.

The city’s energy company, Umeå Energi, created a way to counter some of the effects of the dark winter months by replacing the existing lights in 30 of the city’s bus stops with phototherapy anti-SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) bulbs. Their “light therapy” initiative invites commuters to spend a few minutes facing the therapeutic lights while waiting for the bus to soak up the benefits of the sun they miss during the winter. “Everything is a part of our commitment to take responsibility for both our customers’ everyday lives but also for the environment at large”, says Umeå Energi’s Anna Norrgård.

After the lights were installed, bus use in the city doubled. With an increase in public transportation use and new sun lights that are powered by 100% renewable energy sources – including, fittingly, stored solar energy – the partnership between the city and Umeå Energi has become a model of public benefits and municipal resourcefulness gained from the repurposing of existing infrastructure. Instead of merely sheltering the public from the nature’s elements, the city’s bus shelters give its users the benefits of nature’s best qualities in the off months.

http://www.umeaenergi.se

Photo Credit: Ola Bergengren

iPavement

City: Madrid, Spain
Created by: Via Inteligente

Being “connected” in the city means many things to many people. Real estate agents highlight how connected to the city certain residential areas are via transport links. Business people and friends want to be sure to connect with each other when they are in the city. Cell phone users and laptop-based workers celebrate or bemoan how able they are to connect when in a cafe or public space, while walkers and bicyclists talk of feeling more connected to the city when personally navigating the streets on foot or bike. Connectivity and the urban environment are intrinsically linked.

Madrid-based information technology company Via Inteligente is taking urban connec- tivity to a literal technological level. Their flagship product, iPavement, embeds wire- less technology in the city’s paving stones. With its own operating system and a line of custom apps, iPavement integrates Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity in functional urban paving tiles.

By doubling the functionality of the city’s functional surfaces with the ability to deliver essential Internet connectivity, Via Inteligente sees iPavement as a means to increase economic development in urban areas that are underserved by traditional municipal and commercial Internet connectivity. iPavement is designed to also receive and share information from its install points. The company has plans to use connected paving stones to enable the city to monitor pedestrian traffic and usage patterns to allow more efficient responses and developments according to the use of its public surfaces and public spaces.

www.ipavement.com

UTEC Water Billboard

City: Lima, Peru
Created by: UTEC

The city of Lima, Peru has its share of challenges. It is the second-largest city in the world to be situated in a desert. Access to clean water is limited, as are the public funds to increase access. What there is no shortage of, however, is humidity in the air, and billboards that reach into the moist sky.

The UTEC Water Billboard is a moment when need and the available resources of nature and the city come together. Lima’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) developed the billboard to convert the region’s 98 percent relative humidity air into drinking water. The moist air is processed through a series of reverse osmosis machines installed inside the billboard, along with an air filter, condenser and carbon filter, generating an average of 25 gallons of water per day, which is kept in tanks at the top and comes out of a faucet located at the bottom of the billboard.

In its first three months of operation, the billboard produced 2,496 gallons of fresh drinking water. Originally created as a partnership between UTEC and the ad agency Mayo DraftFCB to show how engineering skills can benefit society to encourage new student applications, the billboards have been recognized as the first in the world to transform the air’s humidity into drinking water, and have become a model of resourceful ways to repurpose existing infrastructure for new beneficial use in the city.

www.utec.edu.pe

QR Chiado

City: Lisbon, Portugal

Created by: MSTF Partners

Any experience of Lisbon is one layered on top of the look and feel of the city’s famous cobbled streets. The irregularly shaped limestone and basalt cobblestones have defined the decorative surface of the city for centuries. So when a Lisbon creative agency wanted to communicate the character of the city it chose to do so using the structural components of the city’s surface as its medium.

QR Chiado was an initiative developed by Lisbon-based creative agency MSTF Partners to use the material of Lisbon as both medium and message. QR Chiado became a modern embrace of an ancient tradition – just as the streets of the city used to tell coded tales of seafaring adventures, legends, commerce and foreign lands, the very same stones were now being recoded to tell updated stories via digital devices.

In the same way that street designs and cobblestones were exported from Portugal to other countries throughout history, QR Chiado has been exported to Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona to use each city’s own cobblestone surfaces, each ready to tell a modern tale of the city, made from material of the city’s surface.

www.mstfpartners.com

About Reprogramming the City

Reprogramming The City is a global exploration of ways in which existing urban objects, structures, surfaces and systems are being re-imagined, re-purposed and re-invented to do more in the city. It is about revealing the hidden potential of the urban assets we already have at hand.

Created by Urban Strategist Scott Burnham, the exhibition premiered at the Boston Society of Architects BSA Space Gallery, and is now on tour in the US and being re-created for other cities internationally.

The latest version of Reprogramming the City is being developed for the ArkDes in Stockholm, Sweden, and will launch in June 2015.

Be Part of Reprogramming the City

Email Scott Burnham at: sb [at] scottburnham [.] com for more information about hosting Reprogramming the City projects, events, talks and publications.