Public Activation

A major component of our day is spent interacting with public spaces. The problem I see is that public space has become repetitive. On our walk to work, lunch, or even to the car we rarely notice our surroundings such as the street, grass, and sky. Designers have a huge opportunity within the public realm to make interventions that can liven up a typical streetscape.

The Green Pedestrian Crossing in China challenges how we see the cross walk. The China Environmental Protection Foundation in collaboration with Jody Xiong, from a the Chinese creative agency DBD, illustrated how walking more and driving less can help and change the world. This installation is 12.6 x 7 meters and was created on white canvas. The individual canvas is on the pedestrian crossing in 15 cities in China with a huge bare tree drawn on it. On both side of the sidewalks they put huge sponge cushions soaked in green paint that gets on the pedestrians’ shoes and then transferred on the tree. With every step the image became “greener”. This project was estimate to have 4 million people walk across it and created 132 trees on the crossings.

One goal the Dutch Design Week had was to challenge the way the public interprets a resting space. This resting space interacts with a busy street sets up a notable area to wait for transportation. Izabela Boloz Studio in collaboration with Kasia Zareba created the installation called ‘Waiting Spot’. The project was intended to mark the waiting area for the Mini Design Rides (a free taxi service that provides transportation during the Dutch Design Week).

In this project we see the simple use of color as a way to rethink that landscape. Blue tire tracks emerge from the splat and mark the waiting area. This intervention on the sidewalk is visible from a distance and creates a fun different waiting environment that what people are used to.

Within the daily routine, the question becomes how much or little can we design to allow other to reinterpret public space. As seen in the two above projects, small changes can make a huge impact on our communities and our ways of thinking. The architecture of our routine is malleable and has the opportunity to be challenged.

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