1
1
Fr
What you can do with the city

Living in a city means living together, defining and negotiating relationships with neighbours and with the urban environment. But it’s easy to overlook the everyday actions that make the stuff of urban life because it often seems like they are overpowered by the heavy frame of the contemporary urban system’s logistics, administration, and regulations. Bring the focus back onto pedestrians, gardeners, religious pilgrims, cyclists, recyclers, and drivers stuck in traffic. Make and use the city.

What you can do with the city

Living in a city means living together, defining and negotiating relationships with neighbours and with the urban environment. But it’s easy to overlook the everyday actions that make the stuff of urban life because it often seems like they are overpowered by the heavy frame of the contemporary urban system’s logistics, administration, and regulations. Bring the focus back onto pedestrians, gardeners, religious pilgrims, cyclists, recyclers, and drivers stuck in traffic. Make and use the city.

Article 1 of 10

9 of 99 Actions

These are specific examples of how cities were used.

Archisuit, Los Angeles, 2005

Action 38: Foamy velour suits challenge authority

Actors: Sarah Ross

Tools: Foam, velour fabric, scissors, sewing machine

Site: Los Angeles, USA, 2005

Description: Artist Sarah Ross’s Archisuit project is jogging suits matching four Los Angeles locations: a Hollywood public library, a Silver Lake fence, the Ronald Reagan State Building, and public benches downtown. The suits’ foam padding fills negative space in each structure and allows the wearer to fit comfortably into or onto urban elements.

Pasture in the City project, Turin, April 2008

Action 33: Sheep and lambs eat city parks

Actors: Department of Park Management, City of Turin; shepherd Federico Tombolato

Tools: 700 sheep, 17 lambs

Site: Meisino, Sangone and Maddalena parks, Turin, Italy, since 2007

Description: The City of Turin saved thirty thousand euros by using sheep to mow lawns at three parks. Cows were also used in 2007, but produced too much manure. Traffic is diverted for the herd of sheep to enter the city, and after the animals are rotated through fenced-off parks for two months, they return to the Alps for the summer.

Stamford Street and Blackfriars Road, London, planted with sunflowers, August 2008

Action 58: Outlaw gardeners beautify city, Richard Reynolds, London, United Kingdom, since 2004

Actors: Guerrillagardening.org (Richard Reynolds), 5,113 gardeners

Tools: seed packets, plant bulbs, garden fork, gloves, lamp

Site: London, United Kingdom, and internationally, since 2004

Description: Richard Reynolds’s one-man war against lousy landscaping in London helped resurrect an urban movement that last resurfaced in the 1970s. Now working around the world, his guerrilla gardeners descend on traffic islands, forgotten parks, public gardens, and roadway edges for nighttime planting raids, illictly transforming untended spaces into gardens.

Lazy Stop project, Durban, 2008

Action 92: Truck tires relax pedestrians

Actors: Millegomme (Jan Körbes, Mantas Lesauskas, Denis Oudendijk)

Tools: Tires, drill, screws, pickup truck

Site: Durban, South Africa, 2008

Description: Thirty Lazy Chairs and fifteen Four Meal Drive picnic tables made out of defective tires were put in a public park by members of the Millegomme collective, allowing people to rest and set up a market. Twelve more Lazy Chairs were installed in bus shelters where the city of Durban had only supplied metal railings to lean on.

(P)LOT Porsche variant, Vienna, 2004

Action 52: Clever tent keeps campers in city

Actors: Michael Rakowitz, campers

Tools: Car cover/tent

Site: Vienna, Austria; Trento, Italy; and internationally; since 2004

Description: Car-shaped tents that restore parking spaces to pedestrians as street-side camping. Any model of car can be reproduced by artist Michael Rakowitz to blend in with a national style or current fashion. The Porsche tent was stolen, but others continue to be used.

Finished facade of Teto Benjamin Constant building, Rio de Janeiro, 2001

Action 2: Mapping the incomplete creates housing

Actors: Coloco (Nicolas Bonnenfant, Miguel Georgieff, Pablo Georgieff), tenants

Tools: Abandoned building, construction knowledge

Site: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and internationally since 1999

Description: Coloco is a French collective interested in scouting and appropriating abandoned structures that they call squelettes, or “skeletons.” Construction on the Teto Benjamin Constant building in Rio de Janeiro began in 1956 and was abandoned in 1957. The buyers who remained completed their own apartments, added rooms and windows, and rented out spaces to raise funds. The building became a co-operative in 1981.

Safari basura in Mallorca, October 2006

Action 16: Timing for the next trash dash

Actors: Basurama (Yago Bouzada Biurrun, Benjamin Castro Terán, Alberto Nanclares da Veiga, Juan López-Aranguren Blázquez, Rubén Lorenzo Montero, Manuel Polanco Pérez-Llantada, Pablo Rey Mázon, Miguel Rodríguez Cruz), city residents

Tools: Municipal website, car

Site: Mallorca, Spain, 2006; Madrid, Spain, 2007

Description: Most cities have scheduled days each month when large garbage, like furniture, is picked up in certain neighbourhoods. Basurama, a collective formed in 2002 at Madrid’s School of Architecture and interested in urban waste, helps residents looking for furniture or appliances to travel to the right neighborhood on the correct date and at the correct time. They call these trips safari basura, literally “safaris in the dustbins.”

Edible food found in the garbage of a supermarket in New York City, March 2007

Action 12: Executive dines in dumpster

Actors: Freegans

Tools: Gloves, bag

Site: New York, USA; internationally

Description: Food safety rules do not allow groceries to sell, or some cases even give away, products that are past their expiry date, and many more fruits and vegetables are thrown out for cosmetic reasons. Dumpster divers and freegans short-circuit this flow of waste by shopping from dumpsters and garbage bags.

A Horse’s Tail: Through the Town, Tilbury, 2003

Action 52: Fake horses plan real park

Actors: muf architecture/art (Liza Flor, Katherine Clarke, Melanie Dodd); children of Tilbury; Countryside Agency; Local Heritage Initiative

Tools: Cardboard horse heads, horses, blankets

Site: Tilbury, United Kingdom, 2003–2004

Description: Muf architecture/art was commissioned to design a community park for the Broadway Estate in the town of Tilbury. The design brief did not mention that ponies sometimes grazed on the site, so muf initiated a history research project with local children using costumes and bus shelter advertisements to refine their design proposal.

These actions, among others, were presented in Actions: What You Can Do with the City, an exhibition and publication that we carried out in 2008.

1
1

Sign up to get news from us

Email address
First Name
Last Name

Thank you for signing up. You'll begin to receive emails from us shortly.

We’re not able to update your preferences at the moment. Please try again later.

You’ve already subscribed with this email address. If you’d like to subscribe with another, please try again.

Folder ()

Your folder is empty.

Email:
Subject:
Notes:
Please complete this form to make a request for consultation. A copy of this list will also be forwarded to you.

Your contact information
First name:
Last name:
Email:
Phone number:
Notes (optional):
We will contact you to set up an appointment. Please keep in mind that your consultation date will be based on the type of material you wish to study. To prepare your visit, we'll need:
  • — At least one week for primary sources (prints and drawings, photographs, archival documents, etc.)
  • — At least twenty-four hours for secondary sources (books, periodicals, vertical files, etc.)
...