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Artfull Urbanites

This tag is associated with 43 posts

The Transparent City

Photographed by Michael Wolf.

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be on the other side of the plate glass window? What would it be like to be on the outside looking in?

A new book of Urban Photography by Michael Wolf takes a look at the city from the outside in.

Chicago, like many urban centres throughout the world, has recently undergone a surge of new construction, grafting a new layer of architectural experimentation onto those of past eras. In early 2007, the Museum of Contemporary Photography‚ with the support of U.S. Equities Realty, invited Michael Wolf as an artist-in-residence. Bringing his unique perspective on changing urban environments to a city renowned for its architectural legacy, Wolf chose to photograph the central downtown area, focusing specifically on issues of voyeurism and the contemporary urban landscape in flux.

Pick up the book over at  aperture foundation


Graffiti found on the streets of Seoul.

Photo by Nathan Hudon

The Department of Funny Street Signs

Over time I have collected a set of street signs that are a little out of the ordinary.  Enjoy the Gallery!

Cities of the Future: The Royal Institute of Architects 1910

The Library over at Cornell University has a great archived paper about what our cities would look like from the perspective of 1910.

Go to Source


Eugène Hénard

Royal Institute of British Architects, Town Planning Conference London, 10-15 October 1910, Transactions (London: The Royal Institute of British Architects, 1911):345-367.

My purpose is to inquire into the influence which the progress of modern science and industry may exercise upon the planning, and particularly upon the aspect, of the Cities of the Future.

It is not without a certain feeling of hesitation that I approach the question: my previous works on Paris have been concerned with subjects which were more clearly defined and which rested upon experimental data. To-day it is my duty to speculate upon mere hypotheses, which, though more or less justifiable, have no established foundation, a circumstance which leads necessarily to hazardous, and sometimes entirely erroneous, conclusions. Even in the most methodical inductions, the exact line of demarcation between the probable and the imaginary is very difficult to draw: nevertheless, I shall endeavour to keep my arguments within reasonable limits; although I dare not affirm that on certain points I may not, unwittingly, be carried away by so seductive a theme. I shall make a special effort to describe the considerations which must determine the form of both our houses and of our streets, as these constitute. the primary elements out of which a city is built up.

Whatever form its future expansion may take, there will always remain, in every large urban community, a centre of intense activity wherein the buildings will always be placed close together, as they are in our cities of the present day. It is a portion of such a centre that we are about to examine.

All the evil arises from the old traditional idea that “the bottom of the road must be on a level with the ground in its original condition.” But there is nothing to justify such an erroneous view. As a matter of fact, if we were to establish as a first principle the idea that “the pavement and carriage-way must be artificially constructed at a sufficient height to allow thereunder a space capable of containing all the installations needed for the service of the road,” the difficulties I have just pointed out would disappear altogether. This, of course, implies an additional floor underground for the neighbouring houses, inasmuch as the ground floor would thus be raised to the level of the street.

Go to Source

Think Big Thoughts

The roof of the building a little further down the street has been tagged and the Graffiti  has some good advice…  ‘Think Big Thoughts’

The Third & The Seventh

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

A FULL-CG animated piece that tries to illustrate architecture art across a photographic point of view where main subjects are already-built spaces. Sometimes in an abstract way. Sometimes surreal.

Dear Alex, your movie is amazing!

Mythic Loft Castle

This was an apartment post over at the best of craigslist. It was such a good read that I thought I would bring it over here to read as a great description of both a residence and a portrait of people who live in the city. The photo above may not be of the apartment itself but its from the intersection where the apartment is located.

Mythic Loft Castle

Date: 2009-11-22, 10:53PM EST

Four people live here but now that winter is coming, three are moving away. One is homesick, one is done with school, one is dealing with the sudden death of two close friends. All three are leaving the province. This leaves me with a rather large hole to fill, in both quantity and quality, because these are three of the best people you’d hope to meet.

I need three more. Reddit trolls welcome.

About the space
Three stories—
Top story is divided in half; one half is my room, the other is a common room. One entire wall is windows, so both rooms look out over the city and the freight railyard. Giant roof to enjoy before winter fully kicks in. Tall tower to climb, good for whiskeying and sunsetting.

Second story is divided into three bedrooms, centered around a fourth, smaller common room. Walls are made of doors and windows, coated in schematics. One room does not have a door but it does have an indoor balcony, and the bed is built into a door-box made of both doors and functional windows, which looks down into the first floor. Another room has skylights with sliding sail-like curtains and a trapdoor leading to the third-story common room. The last room has an indoor windowledge, a view down to the first floor, a small but perfect workdesk-like area built into the i-beams, and a mysterious portal in the ceiling.

The first story is a kitchen, wood- and metal- working shop, lounge, bike shop, bathroom, loft, and bedroom. The ceilings are very high, tall windows fill up most of one wall. The top of a pagoda hangs about the kitchen counter, strung up with airline cable, and from it dangle pots and pans, dried peppers and christmas lights. There’s an upright piano that needs a little fixing but plays pretty well. The ceilings are so tall that we actually built a small loft in one corner. The powertools, saws, grinders, handtools etc live underneath in a decently-sized workshop. The tools will be mostly leaving with a departing housemate, so if you have your own or want to pitch in, we can set up a second, amazing shop. There’s a six-bike hanging rack to keep your precious bike safe. We built a small fifth bedroom over the bathroom, and at only $100 rent have had some fucking great housemates live there who don’t mind living in a room you can’t stand up in. This knocks the rent down for the rest of us, too. The downstairs will most likely become at least partially a sewing studio, so if you’re into sewing it’s a big, big plus. We used to supplement our rent with shows here until the neighbors complained, but earlier-starting shows could be a real possibility. We’ve had over a hundred people show up for some shows and parties here.

Trouble in Paradise: Zoo Installations and the State of the World

steinbrener dempf aquariumZoo’s are rarely controversial places, pack a lunch, take the kids to see some animals having fun relaxing in their pens, nice and relaxing. However at Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna it’s not quite so simple and idyllic. The zoo has been host to an art installation that paints the animal’s faux habitats in a more realistic, or unrealistic light depending on your point of view. The artistic duo of Steinbrener and Dempf have done a series of installations that don’t idealize the environment, and bring those environments into the zoo. Its hard to go many place and not see the impact that we are making on the planet and so the artists have created a number of ecological nightmare scenes in the animal habitats;

steinbrener dempf rhino

“this allows for a confrontation of nature vs. civilization and initiates a shift of context: The source materials – in this case: the original venues – are bared of their primary function, and open up for new connotations. Such a distortion of realities corresponds to the intention to explore issues of wildlife presentation on the basis of non-scientific and subjective methods. Thus, new perspectives arise, which can also be considered as a breach of taboo.”

steinbrener dempf pinguin

“the viewer is forced to reconsider traditional modes of animal presentation and simultaneously to question the authenticity of concepts which are re-staging ‘natural’ environments while they are increasingly endangered. Present-day conceptions of zoological gardens aim at the presentation of animals in an idyllic and apparently natural environment, untouched by civilization. But this is a contemporary conception, since courtly menageries and kennels were adapted to the exposure of animals as decorative objects. Until the early years of the 20th century, animals were part of a preferably spectacular and exotic staging, to the entertainment and amazement of the public. The artificial and the sensational were foregrounded, without creating a realistic setting of the natural environment of the animals.”

So in order to shake zoo patrons out of their comfort zone the artists have penguins swimming under an oil pump, alligators float beside a bathtub and a monster truck tire, and rhinos get their water from beside a half submerged car.

It would be interesting to know what the animals think of the difference in zoo habitat, better, or worse?


steinbrener dempf bisonsteinbrener dempf schneesteinbrener dempf kroko

Seeing the Future

Bridge Concept Art


An illustration of one artists view of what cities in the future may look like.

NVS: The Walled City

* GENERICLIFE.COM * 2 Graffiti artists in Hong Kong’s Walled City emerge from one another’s paintings. The final scene suggests these paintings are not the memories of the characters, but perhaps the city itself. The concept was inspired by the former Walled City of Hong Kong, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and punk DIY (Do It Yourself) attitude.

NVS: The Food Court Musical

From http://www.ImprovEverywhere.com, 16 agents create a spontaneous musical in a food court in a Los Angeles mall. Using wireless microphones and the mall’s PA system, both their voices and the music was amplified throughout the food court. All cameras were hidden behind two-way mirrors and other concealed structures.

This is one of over 70 different missions Improv Everywhere has executed over the past six years in New York City. Others include Frozen Grand Central, the Best Buy uniform prank, and the famous U2 Rooftop Hoax, to name a few. Visit the website to see tons of photos and video of all of our work, including behind the scenes information on how this video was made.

Song by Scott Brown and Anthony King.
Arranged by Jamie Laboz


The Pedestrianization of Times Square and the Naked Cowboy

Times Square is an iconic location in the City of  New York. In planner speak a place like this is often called a magnet, attactions like these generate activity and draw in people. They call them attractions for a reason. One of Times Square’s more notable citizens is Robert John Burck, more popularly known as the Naked Cowboy, an American Busker with a signature style of wearing only his hat, cowboy boots, a pair of tighty whiteys and a strategically placed guitar. As his main patch is times square the Naked Cowboy and the multitudes of photo’s of him scattered across the Internet as a backdrop to the change taking place in Times Square.

Naked cowboy times squarenaked cowboy per closure

You see up until recently Times Square, while known as an attraction for people, was predominantly a space for cars.  However with the induction of New York’s Fearless new Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and the changes that have come with her, Times Square is now a different place.  Janette has mentioned that she is taking part of her inspiration for the pedestrianization of Times Square from the Strøget, a car free zone in the center of Copenhagen. In Copenhagen it has turned that part of the city into the longest pedestrian shopping area in Europe and now a very genteel (tax generating) part of the city.

naked cowboy traffic island pre closure

In a brilliant stroke of decisive action the commissionar has decided not to bother waiting for fancy paving stones, and public squares. The first move was made with traffic cones, paint, and cheap patio furnature. The swift take over gives the plaza and exicting feel, pedestrians get an immeadiate payoff from the enjoyment of  being able to use the space and the local buisness owners might even get a taste for the effect of the increased foot traffic. There is no inbetween period when the space isn’t for cars or pedestrains fenced off and waiting for the fancy work to be done making the plaza a permanent installation, everyone can experience the kind of place Times Square can become right now. Instant gratification.

naked-cowboy- when there were cars

The many photo’s of the Naked Cowboy in Times Square show the kind of place it was, and now photos are arriving that show the kind of place it has become, and the kind of place it can be. At the moment the lawn chairs and traffic cones represent an irreverent and almost adolecent kind of Times Square. A Times Square that you assume would have a Naked Cowboy. It is an invigorating transition before it eventually grows up into a more genteel and tidy space.

(Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times/Redux)

(Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times/Redux)

Seen in the City: The Wall


Pieces of the Berlin wall put to a different use.

The Flash Mob

Just imagine that one day you are out doing errands, you have to pick up something from the store just need to get  home so that you have enough time before people arrive. Then all of a sudden almost everyone around you stops, how would you react?

I think it would make my day.

The Chanel Mobile Art Gallery Ends its Run, Early

Published in the Architects Journal today it was announced that the Chanel Mobile Art Gallery, which we featured here at Urban neighbourhood in the past, has had its run cut short. The fashion house has announce that the gallery will no longer be touring due to the ‘current economic crisis.’

The gallery was a temporary touring pavillion that housed the work of 20 different up and coming artists.