aktionen + temporäre bauten
forschung + entwicklung
vorträge + workshops
der öffentliche raum der stadt (12)
scott burnham (urbanist, manchester), transpublic linz, 2006

Die Fabrikanten: What project is it that you are doing right now in Amsterdam, Lisbon and other cities?

Scott Burnham: „Urban Play". It is a very large project that is just at its beginning. I am working with Droog Design in Amsterdam and Experimenta Design in Lisbon. Urban Play is about is taking the innovation and the inventiveness of guerilla design and the subversive activity around the city and it as a design process.
At the heart of it is inviting designers to create objects that - to use the open source analogy - will be released into the city in a version 1.0. So let's say for example a bench or a tram stop or a billboard - these will be released in the city as a starting point, and objects that people are meant to interact with them, meant to interfere with them. So as the project takes place in Madrid, in Istanbul, Tallinn, Lisbon it begins to physically answer the question of what the inheritant creative personality of that city
actually is? How does the same object change in each city over time? Other designers are creating what we call tools and toys. These is objects that can be used with the existing infrastructure of the city.
One thing that I love here in Linz are your traffic sign stands. All day I was walking Linz back and forth taking dozens of photographs because you have these amazing pieces of urban infrastructure, urban furniture, which I think are great: This little stands that you can bolt things on like ‚No parking' signs.
What I love about those is that because of this open-ended element to their design, they could also be used in a number of different ways. Why can't something much more fun or creative be done there so people can use a section of the sign post for whatever they want? That is the notion behind the tools and toys part in „Urban Play" - using existing urban infrastructure in new innovative ways. Think of the chainlink fence in Chicago. The way that all that was was a fence where people put papercups and someone went by and said, oh, wait a minute.... What I liked about that was that when looked at it you
realized that some people showed up with more papercups because they wanted to spell words that the existing structure wouldn't allow.

Die Fabrikanten: What do you think should city councils in general provide for the people in a city?

Scott Burnham: That's a very interesting question. I think city councils should provide opportunities for people to enter into physical dialogues with the city and dialogues with each other. Cities are getting more dense physically, and more people are living in cities. I think we are at the wrong end of the wedge when city governments insist that more control is needed in space. I think this is looking at the wrong end of the equation. Now - a certain amount of control is always needed. But more people are saying there needs to be another side to this equation. Control is a limiting factor and I think when you are getting more dense environments and you layer restrictions on a phyiscally restricting environment, no one is winning and no one is enjoying their time in the city anymore.
I think city councils should think of ways to allow a sense of play in the wider city. I am not calling for total anarchy, I am not calling for a graffit free-for-all, but areas, systems, allowances for people to interact with public space in a personal way. Think of the image I showed of the underpass by the river, that cloud with a smiling face on it? It is something that really moves me because someone did not do this to destroy property, somebody is not going around painting clouds with smiling faces on them in an underground passage way for a political purpose; they are doing it because it makes them smile when they are doing it and they want others to smile. They think it's funny. There is something
very powerful about someome taking the initiative to do something just for the sake of fun in a public space. I think that needs to be acknowledged.

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