Archives for category: Planning

Common Boston Common Build Competition: “

The Common Boston Common Build (CBCB) is a design competition that challenges participants to design and implement a project in response to real community needs. Held over 3 days during the Common Boston Community and Architecture Festival, the CBCB is open to teams and individuals from ALL disciplines and experience levels. Common Boston and LostInBoston have partnered to host this year’s event, focused to raise awareness of the built environment, improve wayfinding and inspire connections across Boston’s urban fabric.

Competitors will be asked to work with preselected sites as well as vocal neighborhood members to develop design solutions that address the specific physical and social needs of that community. The CBCB aims to prove that even when created in less than 3 days and with a capped budget, an innovative and influential response to a real problem can alter the way we interact with and understand the built environment of a community while seeking tangible benefits for its inhabitants.

For more information, go to the competition’s official website.


Power of 8 is a collaborative project developed by Anab Jain, a designer whose work investigates intersections between digital, biological and sociological fields. Her current efforts investigate design alternatives that impact present development practices and experiment with the collective expression of imaginative urban forms. In this project “8 people from different walks of life work together to build a public conversation about their individual aspirations for a desirable future.”

Power of 8 blurs overlapping space between the public and private sphere and carries my interest for a variety of reasons. In part it is open source and participatory in nature, it makes use a variety of cognitive mapping techniques and explores the development and social expression of urban form in relation to fantasy. Beginning with a series of workshops the crew of eight share their ideas and formulate imaginative visions of the future.

The project is of particular interest because it has manifest as a part of the art world. It is funded by the Arts Council England, presented within the gallery environment, and extends traditional roles for artists, designers, and other professionals; emphasizing transdiciplinary approaches to the development of the urban fabric.

The approach taken is one that begins exclusively and unfolds in the public realm. While typical design-build projects dictate urban morphology from the top down this project is inclusive, moving from the ideas of its eight original participants to the public, facilitating in the process of imagining alternatives to the existing urban fabric. While public participation did not occur from the onset, the shift from private to public practice was planned and implemented at an early stage in the life of the project. Preliminary results of the project workshops were presented to the public during a gallery opening and a large abstracted map of Brentford, the area surrounding the gallery, became a central interactive component to the exhibition. The idea was to “engage with the local people by situating some of our imagined scenarios over the map, and inviting them to do the same.”

The incubation period, during which the professional crew initiated the process and developed individual and collective visions, could very well have provided a successful way to show that images of the future need not be limited in scope. Ideas that emerged from the workshops appear to have included a wealth of creative proposals and initiated a creative response from the public.

“Over the course of two days we had a steady stream of participants ranging from the radically activist to the playfully naive populated this map of their local area of Brentford with walking houses, snow stimulators, solar powered airships, public free boxes, trees that could talk to one another, new wireless connectivity, new species of underwater organisms and human spinning tops. The table was transformed into a landscape of fantasy and possibility in what appears to be a distant edge suburb of London.”

Following the exhibition ideas generated through the Power of 8 project are intended to move freely through the public realm. “After October, the work will discursively enter the public domain, and each collaborator will be able to have equal ownership over the material and disseminate it in a way that suits him/her best.” In this way the project will have seeded the landscape with ideas of the future, opening the local community to the creative potential of collectively imagined landscapes and inspiring new visions for the future.

In essence this project exemplifies an optimistic and inclusive approach to the development of our shared habitat. It combines the creative potential of forward thinking professionals with that of everyday citizens, those who share in the lived experience of the city and its infrastructure, to produce a collective expression of the future.

to see more visit: The Power of 8

Call for creative response:

Urban SOS, an open ideas competition, is challenging students from around the world. This call is open to individual designers or teams of up to four graduate and undergraduate students. Its aim is to illicit innovative responses to stressed urban areas that have the potential for lasting improvement.

There’s cash involved for those who need a little more motivation. 20,000 usd in prize money gets the ball moving.

For more info visit:
Urban SOS

Get the PDF: download

The Bronx Museum has teamed up with Design Trust to host a design competition aimed at gathering ideas for the future of the Grand Concourse. Exemplifying how organizations are taking on the task of improving urban environments. This is an open call to anyone who can come up with a vision of the future for this portion of Bronx’s urban fabric.

“This international ideas competition solicits bold visions that describe how the Bronx and the Grand Concourse can evolve in coming decades to cope with pressing needs for housing, green space, and transportation.
Winning proposals will be exhibited at The Bronx Museum of the Arts starting in November 2009. Honorable mentions will be on display at the exhibition and on this website.”

What makes this so interesting?

Partnership between the Bronx Museum and Design Trust:

This project not only bridges public and private practice, engaging local governments and private companies, it expands the role of the museum and the artist. Traditionally, in a very brief and narrow sense, museums exhibit works of art as end products and artists make them. But the exhibition that will be presented in the Bronx Museum is different. Selected proposals will be on show and while these may not be complete plans for urban design they may very well influence the future urban environment of the Grand Concourse. They are images, representations of what could very well become a tangible infrastructure. On that note the exhibition opens an intriguing path for public feedback, putting the big ideas up for all to see means that those who do catch a glimpse can respond. Is the museum going to be recording public response? I doubt it, but it is certainly a interesting shift in the role of the museum and I am sure the images of Grand Concourse’s future will prompt an interesting dialogue.

An expanded role for artists interested in the Urban Environment.

Art is often retro fitted onto the existing urban fabric. It takes a side seat, if any, to the design and planning role. This project opens the door for artists. It takes into account the value of art, innovation and creative vision. This competition challenges traditional design and development practices engaging diverse professions, providing a venue for exhibition that places the products of the competition in the domain of art, and opens the door to artists. This elucidates evolving processes in urban design and marks emergent inclusions of art, a valued role for the artist, and the sifting landscape of design professions. Urban design becomes art and the scope of the artist’s influence acquires a new lens.

The Jury:

The jury here epitomizes the diversity of this project and its potential. Comprised of architects, planners, artists, a sociologist and an editor this jury covers a great spectrum of professionals.

Some notable Jurors just to get the picture:

Susan Szenasy :
Editor-in-Chief of Metropolis
TATS CRU : Bronz based professional muralists

Wilhelm Ronda : Director of Planning and Development for the Office of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión.
Tim Rollins : Artist, Founder of Art and Knowledge Workshop
Dr. Clara E. Rodríguez :
Professor of Sociology at Fordham University’s College at Lincoln Center.
Walter Hood : Professor and former Chair of the Landscape Architecture Department at the University of California, Berkeley.
Stan Allen
: Dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University.

It is great to see the explosion of design competitions in recent years. All are bringing imaginative ideas to the front of urban design and I look forward to charting this evolution of urban environment. I am certainly pleased to see the inclusion of art and the expansion of the artists role from a passive to active one.

To see more visit:

Intersections : Grand Concourse Beyond 100


Cycles, consistent ebbs and flows in my interests, form the boundaries of my work and research. A pliable delineation of art, design and environment defines the region of my inquiry. Fascinated with the entirety of the inhabited, yet bypassing the broader scope of this interest, I often focus on images of urban infrastructure that invite poetic impressions and engage my imagination through daydreams and an aesthetic sensibility. Emerging from increased ecological pressures combined with broad planning and design efforts of development professionals is a growing trend in competitions and proposals aimed at creating fully articulated urban centers. While many of these proposals remain imaginary they contribute to the mass of renderings and images available to the public, alluding to cities of the future. These plans look to make use of lessons learned over centuries of monumental construction practices; they merge programs for living and working while paying heed to growing demands for urban agriculture and ecological integration. Images of these projects inspire my work and afford countless niches for the role of artists.

Huaxi City Center:

Recent coverage of the Huaxi city center design contest, organized by Mad exposes some great images that bridge the domains of art, design and environment. Architects, engineers and planners are composing this master plan, working to bring this urban environment to life.

images via : design boom

There is a grand dialogue between environment and man, maintained through the imagination, that invests life into the spaces we encounter. With any project like the Huaxi city center there is a exploration of the unknown, imaginary and immaterial. Exploring the chaos of that which is unrecognized, bringing life to the ideas and images of the imagination through material manifestation is art. The dreamer, encountering images that afford raw impetus for creativity, becomes the artist.

What is the possibility for a home to be delivered; prefabricated and placed onto a site, ready to inhabit. Many of the ideas, presented in short among the frames of this youtube video, claim to be working for these very goals and certainly they are. But, we do already have some instances of this. Many of them actually.

What is the implication of superimposing a prefabricated home onto its landscape? What environmental considerations are overlooked when approaching the idea of habitation in this way? Can you keep is from looking like this when the storm comes?

Can we change the patten of the neighborhood? Can we keep it from looking like this?

In this day and age with rising energy concerns and projected populations reaching the tens of billions, one can be sure that addressing housing is of critical importance. The challenge here as it appears to me, and as it is framed in this short video, is to generate housing that is low cost, low energy, self-sustaining, durable, portable, perhaps even modular, and to top it off preserve the diverse nature of our individuality while integrating as a unit into the greater ecology. Can this be done with today’s technology and imagination? Yes, but meeting all of these demands takes more than swank marketing and catch phrases. It takes a genuine interest in humanity, imagination and capital. Perhaps the architects and designers in the video have just that. Perhaps the future of housing as we know it, is truly changing. You buy it, they deliver it, you live in it, you love it!

And if your as creative as these guys maybe the new verision.21c will give you some room for experimentation.