He showed how public bodies such as the Department of Transportation in New York, are learning from the examples set by citizens and using potted plants to define and protect a public space from littering and misuse. He showed how residents are redefining space in their neighbourhoods by renting parking spaces for a few hours and transforming the land use. Parking becomes football pitches, yoga classes, temporary gallery exhibits for a short while, re-imagining a city with more public space.The brilliant Candy Chang also made the cut in the film, talking with passion about her desire for public messaging to reflect what is really important to a community, not just being sold to the highest bidder. The ‘I wish This Was’ project and ‘Before I die’ are great examples of this. Both projects have since expanded cities around the world, proof that individuals are interested in a platform to express what really matters to their communities. One of the more ‘graphic’ solutions shown was the Tidy Street project, where participating households in a street in Brighton are recording their energy consumption and the street itself is turned into an infographic, charting their use. By making each resident on the street visually accountable for their energy use, collectively a communities behaviour was changed, resulting in reduction in energy use of around 15% in a matter of weeks.
He ended the talk with a challenge to designers.
- Identify a problem in your city
- Get some friends and drakes together
- Brainstorm a solution
Designers inherently have the skills to address these problems, and now more than ever our cities need creative solutions to the challenges they face.
Filmmaker (New York)
Text — Matt Judge — DesignAssembly