Remodeling the Rural Studio. rural-studio.jpgMetropolis looks at the state of the Rural Studio, Auburn University’s architecture program where students design and build for the rural poor in Alabama. After the passing of its founder, the program has shifted focus from building flamboyant, one-off structures to designing an affordable housing template and facilitating financing. It’s never been clear to me how much the communities they build for actually participate in the design process, but I like the new direction.
>  21 August 2009 | LINK | Filed in ,
Visualizing Public Policy. tomato.jpg The Center for Urban Pedagogy has announced a call for designers for the next round of Making Policy Public. This year’s fold-out poster designs will cover policy briefs on:
  • Preserving public parks and historically safe spaces for LGBTQ teens in the context of rapid privatization of public space.
  • Enabling public housing residents to become active participants in critical decisions about the developments where they live.
  • Educating the public about the redistricting process and reforms that can make it less subject to political manipulation.
  • Helping youth and their families navigate the juvenile justice system.
  • Visualizing market forces along the tomato supply chain that give rise to sweatshop working conditions in the Florida tomato industry.
See this previous Making Policy Public brief on street vendor regulations in New York City.
>  29 July 2009 | LINK | Filed in , , ,
A Visual Guide to the Financial Crisis. Clever flow-chart of recent events leading to the housing bubble and financial market collapse punctuated with some choice, embarrassing quotes from the heads of state. It doesn't go into deregulation, predatory lending or other deeper roots, but does a good job with the immediate cause and effect.
A Visual Guide to the Financial Crisis
>  5 December 2008 | LINK | Filed in ,
Homelessness has nothing to do with a lack of shelter. Graphic desgn student Mark Daye posted official looking signs in downtown Toronto noting the homelessness nearby. More in the Toronto Star and its reaction, captured on Torontoist.
>  8 April 2007 | LINK | Filed in ,

Paving the Clouds

UNESCO regonition seems to carry a heavy burden of opportunity.

La HuastecaLa Huasteca canyon, an ecological park in Cumbres de Monterrey National Park in north-eastern Mexico, may soon become part of a high-end residential development and golf course.

Last October, the municipality of Santa Catarina approved a 900 million dollar project to build more than 9,000 housing units and a 27-tee golf course in this place. Just a few days earlier it had been made part of a UNESCO biosphere network. Monterrey will also host the second Universal Forum of Cultures in 2007.

La Huasteca is a frequented family outing, camping and climbing site. One third of the drinking-water in Monterrey (pop. 3.7 million) comes from La Huasteca. There are over a thousand species in the area, seventy-three of which are endagered. See photos here.

The state and federal governments have pretty much washed their hands off the issue while local politicians, including a brother of the Governor, own part of the land.

Media coverage and activists have forced the new municipal authorities to claim they would freeze the project for at least three years, but they are now hinting they could give it the go-ahead this week.

Two activist websites are lahuasteca.org and voluntariosgreenpeace-mty.blogspot.com. Subcomandante Marcos shows his support to activists in this audio file.

See La Huasteca at Flickr, or read about it in Crain’s and La Jornada

>  18 February 2007 | LINK | Filed in , ,
Green, Stylish, and Affordable Housing. The AIA announced eight winners of the “Show You’re Green” awards at its June conference.
>  27 July 2006 | LINK | Filed in ,
Cooperative Housing for and by the Aging. “Opting for old age on their own terms, they were starting a new chapter in their lives as residents of Glacier Circle, the country’s first self-planned housing development for the elderly — a community they had conceived and designed themselves, right down to its purple gutters. Over the past five years, the residents of Glacier Circle have found and bought land together, hired an architect together, ironed out insurance together, lobbied for a zoning change together and existentially probed togetherness together.” (via)
>  2 March 2006 | LINK | Filed in , ,
2006 International Bamboo Building Design Competition. Seeking innovative designs for family homes, affordable housing, high-end houses, tree and pole houses, as well as temporary, portable, emergency relief structures. (via)
>  14 February 2006 | LINK | Filed in ,
Sustainable Leadership Awards. I hate design competitions for many reasons, but this one looks promising. Prizes for best practices, leadership, and sustainable design in interior design, architecture for large and small for-profit companies, and for non-profit organizations. Here’s hoping for an affordable housing category next year.
>  5 February 2006 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Blue Plate Special

Kimberly from Australia emails:

“[I am writing] to see if you have a copy of Tibor Kalman’s ‘Fuck Bush. Vote’ poster. Reading your post today about the bilingual poster for the NYC elections made me remember Tibor’s and would love to see it.”

Here you go. A shot of page 75 in Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist:

Tibor Kalman Poster

Before his famous “political advertising” for Benetton, Kalman and his company M&Co created such at the behest of Florent Morellet, owner of the eponymous bistro in the meatpacking district.

The text on the page above reads:

“After the death of a close friend, and collaborator Larry Rosenberg, in 1987, after a prolonged struggle with AIDS (and a medical profession caught unawares), Kalman and Morellet produced a joint advertisement with the Society for the Right to Die, and, increasingly after this, Florent advertising and publicity became a vehicle for political messages. These included invitations to donate money or time to the homeless over Christmas, and an ad that ridiculed vice-president Dan Quayle for his spelling abilities.

‘I decided that if I was going to spend money on advertising I was going to do political advertising; it had to be more than saying my food is the best,’ says Morellet. ‘Having a social message was a way to feel that I was not wasting my money.’

Kalman: ‘Most things we did for Florent he liked, and when you have that relationship, you do great work, because it becomes your responsibility to make sure the ads work and that you respect the person who is trusting you. He did, however, reject our call to vote poster.’

Florent Morellet: ‘It was very stormy working with Tibor. I’m a pushy person and he’s a pushy person. We had a few fights about design. I was not the quiet client.... As for the Fuck Bush, Vote poster, there’s a limit to that. At the time everybody was saying ‘fuck’ every other word. It became boring, like ‘you see.’’

Scott Stowell (designer): ‘For three years I ate Florent food for lunch everyday except Friday. For a long time it was family style; we would have no idea what we were getting, so it might be roast chicken one day and huge tins of borscht the next. Once in a while we’d do an office party at the restaurant. That was the arrangement. They brought us food and we gave them ads, and everybody was happy.’”

Florent has a history of community engagement. In 2003, with preservationist Jo Hamilton, he helped earn landmark recognition for the Gansevoort Historic District.

The context of the Florent ads, arising from rage and personal loss, and even the barter arrangement, make the feel a lot less crass and gratuitously provocative than Kalman’s later work for Benetton.

See previous posts Half Empty on Tibor and Commodify Your Dissent on merchant politics.

>  9 November 2005 | LINK | Filed in ,

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