To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Love or Hate It, User-Generated Urbanism May Be the Future Of Cities
regular commute is likely a bit of a drag: enduring traffic-clogged
freeways, navigating inefficient public transport, hustling down blocks
that could use a little TLC. But eh, that’s just modern life, right?
Well... kind of. In some ways, navigating the realities of your
day-to-day is a bit like backwards time travel. The world you step into
when you walk out your front door was actually conceived a long time
ago, when logistics of modern life were very, very different.
traditional model of city-making has historically involved experts with a
definitive, long-term plan executed over time. The issue with that is
that culture changes faster than infrastructure; we’ve surpassed our
ability to keep up. One of the consequences is that we’re left living in
cities we planned 50 to 60 years ago."
That’s Blaine Merker. He’s a principal and one of the co-founders of Rebar,
an art and design studio in San Francisco set on evolving the way
people interact and engage with their environment. He and his team are
the co-founders of Adaptive Metropolis,
an upcoming symposium focusing on a new wave of grassroots urbanism
that addresses the needs of places and constituents—immediately. By the
people, for the people. Merker calls it “user-generated urbanism,” or
"collaborative city-making." But what, exactly, does that mean?
may be formed within traditional disciplines—architecture, engineering,
landscape, design—but are adapted and promoted by locals who are most
familiar with the problems and issues facing their areas. Merker
describes three models:
Merker points to Park(ing) Day
as a prime example of "open source" urbanism. In 2005, the Rebar gang
put two hours worth of coins in a parking meter and rolled out some sod
in a spot on a San Francisco street. Eight years later, the open-source
movement has gone global
with some seriously impressive installations that encouraging people to
slow down, have a seat, and experience their neighborhoods with a new
perspective. Check out the map for a look at how this year's event—which took place on Friday, September 20th—went down.
approach doesn’t attempt to lay out an entire, established plan upfront.
Merker compares it to software development: “Try to get a beta out and
break it early,” he says. “Fail quick fail often in an urban context
where the risks and stakes are lower.”
San Francisco’s Pier 70 is in the early stages of a 15-year redesign by Forest City
that will transform the iconic locale into a mixed-use hub for creative
businesses, living spaces, rotating pop-ups, and retail space. By
mapping out a plan and slowly enacting various elements, Merker says the
firm hopes to be able to gauge the popular response and adjust
Peer Network Design
focus more on crossing boundaries between disciplines—and Merker
mentions the sharing economy as a great example. Take our
hyper-congested streets, 75 percent of which he says are dedicated to
the movement and storage of private vehicles. The existence of services
like ZipCar and City Car Share are taking a significant chunk of these
off the road, subsequently reducing gridlock and freeing up the
thoroughfares for other shared services. “Access instead of ownership,”
media has expanded the reach of these projects and put hyper-local
efforts in an international spotlight, allowing for critical feedback
and the dissemination of these ideas in other cities.
of course, Merker's ideas have sparked some spirited debate, as well.
Even those who appreciate these concepts in theory can be critical of
the execution—just have a look at Alissa Walker's recent take
on the aforementioned Park(ing) Day. But to the Adaptive Metropolis
gang, these opinions are actually part of the plan. “Friction is an
incredibly productive space,” Merker says. Dialogue is key, and the
discussions that result from the tension between guerrilla movements and
tactical solutions will get to the heart of what matters to the people
who these changes impact the most.
symposium isn't just a way to catalog or blindly applaud the increasing
real world examples popping up; Merker hopes to establish a critical
framework to consider these projects beyond their relative
"tweetability." Ultimately, he views the event as “the start of a
manifesto,” a kind of a call to action for professionals and locals
alike to rally together and collaborate on new ways to improve the
places they call home.