design thinking initiatives for a better urban life
Taking action in public space, involving the people that use it and care for it. Through usually lightweight, low-cost, yet high-impact structures, workshops and collective performances that help creating a local sense of community, revitalizing the city and raising awareness.
The first two are most important. The rest just continues to up your geek-level.
“We all come to know each other by asking for accounts, by giving accounts, and by believing or disbelieving stories about each other’s pasts and identities”
Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember
This project began with a question about how people connect to places. As our lives become ever more transient, the stable relationships with place that have defined communities for generations are evaporating. Many of us now inhabit places whose history we have no understanding of, no personal connection to. What happens to the identity of a place when its residents have no memory of it?
Boston has a strong tradition of collecting oral histories of place. Organizations like the Cambridge Historical Commission, South End Historical Society, and other community groups have archived personal stories about places in their neighborhoods, maintaining a link between the physical fabric and the lives it contained. But how many people know about these archives? How many of the current residents can point to a family members story contained therein? Do these archives invite their viewers to contribute their own stories? Do they encourage us to explore our environment, to connect the physical artifacts with the stories they hold?
My Little Public is a program that encourages a discussion that could form a new concept of future urban spaces. Through educating children while they are young, we can foster their desire to cultivate an engaging and livable environment. It is a prospect of promoting a culture where people have more awareness and interaction with their environment.
In the recent years, our lives have drastically been altered by the development of the information age. One example is how technology starts to fundamentally change the way we live. Thirty years ago, people could not have imagined a world of computer networks, smartphones, and a staggering number of wireless technologies. For instance, in the 1990s, when making a date with a friend, you might say “let’s meet right at the east entrance of the memorial park at 7:00 sharp.” But in 2010, you might say “let’s meet in the Quincy area at around seven-ish, just call me or text me when you are in the area.” In fact, the development in the information age not only changes the way we are living but how we perceive and interact with physical spaces. Instead of planning precisely, now you can freely meander in that area and just make sure your mobile phone is on and connected. In this new age, how will our physical environment add up to the new perception of space? And what will that be?
As part of the “Networked Urbanism” studio, I developed a relationship with a community in Dorchester that would drive my thesis research and a locally-initiated creative project after graduation. Dorchester is a large, historic, and often stigmatized neighborhood in Boston that exhibits diverse elements of urban living. In addition to generations of Irish- and Polish-Americans, it is home to large Vietnamese, Cape Verdean and Central- and African-American populations. Visually, it lacks the New England orderliness prevalent in Boston, and feels more like a chaotic, contemporary global city. My project sought to connect the diverse residents of this neighborhood with ongoing city planning efforts, and amplify their sense of agency over their physical surroundings.
The implications of a $15-million city planning initiative to improve infrastructure along Dorchester’s main corridor, Dorchester Ave., piqued my interest. Was it paving the way for a developer’s dream of gentrification, or could it genuinely improve the quality of life for residents in the contested neighborhoods traversed by the avenue? (more…)
I worked on the concept of urban bike station for bikers. I began the project with the interest in bikes and the growing culture. When I first noticed that bikes are often locked on street signs and trees, I thought about the relationship of bicycles and urban space.
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