The streets like a big playground: A cluster of different playful signals

Quebec-3In a world where cities grow of population, people meet the most in the urban place. Because of the population growth, places on the street generally are becoming more anonymous, impersonal and more functional.

Mankind is questioning about the everyday life, analyzing the circumstances and want to find a playful solution to improve the awareness of life. People want to reinvent the urban place by bringing back fun and personality. Together we invent the urban place more towards a play society.

Signals as ‘ActiWait (StreetPong)’, ‘Dreamy Playground’, ‘Waterfall Swing’ and ‘Rainworks’, connect well with this. These trends are closing well with the trends Collaboration, Experience Economy and Gamification. 

What is it?

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Firstly, I want to talk about the ActiWait (StreetPong). This is a concept by Sandro Engel and Amelie Künzler of URBAN INVENTION.

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                              (Sandro Engel & Amelie Künzler)

This is a pedestrian light (touch screen) that lets you play with a wireless connection against someone on the other side of the road. A video showing this idea traveled around the world surprising millions of people, because it offers pedestrians the possibility to convert boring waiting times into positive experiences. Perhaps it also creates more safety.

The ActiWait creates urban interaction and design and art are interwoven in public spaces. After two years of development, the prototype was installed and tested at a traffic light for the very first time. It was a great success for URBAN INVENTION and now they’re working on a product that is internationally marketable. Besides they hope to change the image of cities all over the world.

Quebec-2The second signal is the Dreamy Playground designed by studio Les Astronautes. The designers turned a dark, narrow alley into a dreamy playground in Quebec City. The only thing the designers used are pink and orange colored swimming pool noodles on both walls of the alleyway. The place gets a whole new identity and experience.

According to the designers, the combination of anonymity and narrowness of this specific place inspired them to come up with this idea.

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The intervention was part of Quebec’s public art festival Les Passages Insolites, which aims to reshape our thinking of neighborhoods by questioning our relation with public space.

In challenging visuals that also create an interaction with users, the known surrounding becomes new and adventurous.

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Thirdly, the Waterfall Swing is an amazing signal. It’s an interactive art piece and a collaborative project between Mike O’Toole, Andrew Ratcliff, Ian Charnas and Andrew Witte. The Waterfall Swing is built by Dash 7 Design. The swing creates a water plane falling in the path of its riders. The swing is the first in a series that play with interaction in rides and installations.

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Riders pass through the openings of the swing’s waterfall. The swing is created by precise monitoring the path of the riders via axel-housed encoders, creating the thrill of narrow escaping obstacles.

For now, the Waterfall Swing has traveled the world with installations across the United States and in The Netherlands.

Finally, I would like to talk about the Rainworks that are made in Seattle by Peregrine Church (right), who is often helped by co-conspirators Xack Fischer (middle) and Forest Tresidder (left).

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Church makes rain-activated positive messages, games and art on the streets, by spraying a water-repellant coating onto sidewalks through a stencil. The art only appears when it gets wet (the regular concrete turns darker while the concrete he sprayed the coating on stays dry), and it’s hidden when dry. This kind of street art is meant to brighten your day, even when it’s gray and rainy.

Why is it cool?

Some of the signals are a good example of the redesign of places. Companies and organizations are increasingly creating special activities at special places, where you do not initially expect to encounter this. Indeed, it’s a clever use of the land/space and it creates spontaneous interactions. This is why it inspires me, but I think probably also other citizens, organizations and companies. Besides I especially like the idea of Rainworks, because this would work well in the Netherlands with all the rain we have over here.

You can see the needs for Collaboration, Gamification and the Experience Economy, because of the growing anonymity, impersonality and modern technology. Individualization and the advent of the Internet have accelerated this. In the future these needs will only increase, because lots of people are looking for new places for their activities, fun and personality in the urban place.

By creating concepts and ideas like this, a city has a lot to offer to citizens. Citizens will get happier and the city is becoming more livable and durable.

People have fun and laugh more, but they also move more with some of these signals. This is good for the emotional-, physical- and social wellbeing.

Be smart and use or create something fun on the streets and you will feel happy!

  

Sources:

http://popupcity.net/play-pong-at-the-traffic-light/

http://urban-invention.com

https://vimeo.com/48514003

http://popupcity.net/turning-a-dark-alley-into-a-dreamy-playground/

http://www.waterfallswing.com/seat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS7GEWfc22U

http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/nl/blog/just-add-water-rain-activated-street-art-hits-seattle

http://popupcity.net/street-art-appears-when-it-rains/

http://rain.works

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=33&v=CBwpON6HIR8

 

 

 

 

PopUp Forest at Times Square: A solution for a livable and durable city of the future?

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Cities are growing rapidly. An estimated 75 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. ‘How do I keep the city livable and durable for others and myself? ‘as well as: ‘ How can we create happier citizens?’ are questions we get more to do with, especially in the future.

How can we improve our quality of life and the environment when cities are so crowded? A solution for this problem could be the ‘PopUp Forest: Time Square’. 

What is it?

1/8 of New York City is forests, marshes and meadows. NYC has more nature than any other city in North America. Unfortunately, many New Yorkers have no idea that these kinds of places/nature exist.

To give people the experience of the nature that lives close by (to get to know their floral and faunal neighbors) and to redefine cities with nature in mind, the PopUP Forest: Times Square helps to achieve this.

The PopUp Forest: Times Square is a temporarily large-scale installation of real nature in the heart of New York City. This is a lively green space, which will support wildlife and delight urbanites. In about a couple of weeks it will disappear.

Urban ecologist Marielle Anzelone started the PopUp Forest campaign on Kickstarter. Anzelone’s purpose and wishes are to build a resilient and livable city together with citizens. With the PopUp Forest, Anzelone shows us how important it is to protect the remaining natural areas in the city.

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Anzelone’s plan is to ship containers loaded with soil, trees and flowers along, with sounds of birds and wildlife to one of the world’s most crowded places. Anzelone wants to create an immersive natural experience in what the campaign page calls ‘the most unnatural place on the planet’.

After three weeks, the PopUp Forest would be removed and the greenery used in small parks and schoolyards around the city.

The Kickstarter campaign was launched on March 16th and the hope is that funds will help to enable to start a design for the Times Square installation in 2016 and create a prototype in Gowanus, Brooklyn for summer 2015.  

Small funders will see their name on the website, while higher donations come with access to other cool things.

You can find and follow the project on Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com/projects/popupforest/build-a-popup-forest-in-times-square-nyc

Below Marielle Anzelone tells about the idea of the PopUp Forest: Times Square. 

Why is it cool?

Forests can now just pop up somewhere. I think this is why it makes it such a great and inspirational idea. If a forest can make it in Times Square, it can make it anywhere. Besides, this forest connects people to nearby nature. Design, education, and government are interwoven to promote this relationship.

I’m quite sure, this PopUp Forest will inspire people to come with other durable initiatives and ensures a better future for crowded cities. 

The PopUp Forest ensures that the nature will be into people’s everyday lives.

Let’s work together and fight against climate, environmental and globalization/urbanization problems, to work on a livable and durable city for the future. Our quality of life will increase by this on different aspects, like for example on the emotional wellbeing. In a sustainable city of the future we may be the happiest.

Places will get greener and hopefully there will be a balance between crowded places and nature.

 

Sources:

http://popupcity.net/a-pop-up-forest-at-times-square/

http://www.popupforest.org

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/times-square-pop-up-forest-hits-goal-article-1.2168448

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/popupforest/build-a-popup-forest-in-times-square-nyc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=110&v=m-seRYjYehE

 

MCHL – A design store full with innovative and experimental 3d-printed products

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First 3d-printing products were expensive and maybe a little bit uncommon. But now 3d-printing becomes part of our daily life and you see it more often. Stores that have this kind of products are hot and we all know a little bit of this manufacturing process. In the experience economy we are living in, the story behind the product is becoming more important. Especially for the serendipity seekers, people that discover and explore for new experiences and make room for fortunate accidents. They also focus on process versus product. You can say, that there is an increasing demand and need for authenticity. Now there is a store where you can find experience in the products, it’s called MCHL.

What is it?

MCHL is a brick ‘n mortar shop located in Utrecht at Oudegracht 254. The shop has opened just a couple of months ago and might be one of the first shops in the Netherlands to sell only 3d-printed products.

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You can find products that are one-of-a kind. All the products are made by a 3d-printer and Dutch designer Michiel Cornelissen designs them. Cornelissen is engaged in digital manufacturing, technologies such as 3d-printing that can manufacture complex products without the need for large investments. This is also reflected in his designs in the shop, where he merges special user products with the technology of 3d-printing. In the shop you can find jewelry, interior products and electronic accessories for example. 

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Some special products are One In A Million Bird, Happy Bird, 36 Pencil Bowl en E 5.55. They all have a special story. But the story behind the E 5.55 is charming.

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The E 5.55 is a necklace made of 3d-printing and 111 five-eurocent coins. This idea is designed by the fact that Cornelissen was intrigued by the beauty of some of the things we take for granted, In this example the five-eurocent coins, that are little industrial gems. It’s a project that wants to show us the intricate geometries and flexible behavior that is possible with 3d-printing by holding 111 five-eurocent coins firmly in place to create a gorgeous necklace. You can buy the E 5.55 as a complete necklace with coins, or make it fun by buying it as a DIY (do it yourself) project. This is an unique and special jewel with a beautiful story behind it.

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If you want to know more stories behind the different kinds of products, take a look at http://www.michielcornelissen.com/home.html or visit the store in Utrecht.

Why is it cool?

It’s cool, because design, production and sales are closely linked now. It also seems like there’s something new to experience in MCHL every week. If you’re looking for a cool present or just something fancy for yourself, you will find some unique products here. Normally design isn’t affordable, but the products from MCHL are.

Besides the experience in the product, serendipity seekers and authenticity, wonderlust is also an important thing you can see in some of the products in the MCHL store. Wonderlust means, see the extraordinary in the ordinary. People that feel connected with wonderlust, want to amaze and wonder, reflect and appreciate, but also want to see the small things in life. The E 5.55 is a good example of appreciating the small things in life.

Behind every kind of product is a story and that’s what makes it so special and why people feel connected with the products. This might be a good reason that the products from Michiel Cornelissen has future growth potential.

In short, it’s not only affordable. It’s also unique, has a story and is innovative and durable.

Sources:

Offline: I went to Utrecht to search for some coolhunts on 14-11-14. I found this shop walking down the Oudegracht in Utrecht.

Online: After visiting this brick ‘n mortar shop, I looked on the internet for some extra information about MCHL.

http://www.michielcornelissen.com/home.html

http://youtu.be/196ps2tO-e8