Urban Play in Amsterdam

During the first edition of the ExperimentaDesign in Amsterdam Biennale in 2008, a project was realized under the name of Urban Play. The project is deeply analyzed by Scott Burnham in the catalogue who presents the event: “Droog event 2, Urban Play. Here, Burnham tells us about the slow falling of our cities into a uniform pattern made of basic, common elements, such as housing, streets, transports, sidewalks, public spaces and so on.

Nevertheless, a touch of individuality is starting to appear – he argues – in the everyday urban structures, thanks to the big potential of human creative intervention. Only the effort and strength of citizens’ participation can bring back a little bit of human scale in the alienate contemporary city.

Urban Play is a project made of individual, semi-illegal works, often breaking laws or rules which discourage the spontaneous intervention of the citizen in the urban contest; all the interventions analyzed in the book are equal answers to the alienation of the contemporary city inhabitant.

Image taken from flikr.com/photos/scottburnham

Talking about “urban art”, usually known reductively as street art, such as graffiti on walls or, sometimes, galleries, the still undeveloped borders of this artistic scene show another reality, looking forward to a new model of urban design, made of citizens interaction with every-day’s surroundings through creative interventions, a sort of a DIY operation, made by people for people, without any license or order.

Images taken from flikr.com/photos/scottburnham

This kind of “hacking culture” or “artistic disturb” plans the use of old urban elements, in order to obtain the highest benefit for people around them. We are looking to an experiment, maybe a vision: human potential and landscape are cooperating together in the chance of creating a new idea of contemporary urbanism.

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