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Posts Tagged ‘livability’

Photo: blvckimvges
Santiago, Chili, turned a congested area into a walkable, artistic delight for $550,000 raised from sponsors. But will the pilot program last?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. In the congested capital of Chile, people who value walkable cities took matters into their own hands to pilot a livability initiative. The only question now: will it last?

As Martín Echenique reported at CityLab, “It was all done in record time. In just 30 days, more than 120 people — led by 32-year-old Chilean visual artist Dasic Fernández — transformed one of the most congested and iconic streets in the center of the Chilean capital.

“Today, Bandera Street, next to the government palace and the city’s main square, is a colorful promenade, thanks to an urban intervention that’s unprecedented in Latin America. …

“Fernández, who lives in New York City, joined forces with architect Juan Carlos López, and in three days they developed a proposal to sway the mayor: The idea was to transform Bandera into an example of tactical urbanism that fused art and architecture, and that would set a precedent for how both disciplines can successfully intervene in urban spaces. …

“ ‘The idea was to pedestrianize the street, to put a little green area, some color and furniture. There was nothing like an elaborate request from the municipality,’ said Fernández. …

“The Municipality of Santiago did not have to take any money out of its pocket. The entire project was financed, basically, through payments made by various brands to make their logos visible on the Paseo, where tens of thousands walk through each day. … According to the artist, the total cost of the project did not exceed $550,000. …

“ ‘We made a team of 20 local and Latin American muralists, who painted each block in eight or 10 hours. There was a whole coordination. It was a true visual choreography,’ said Fernández. …

“At the end of this year, the Chilean capital will have to make a decision: either reopen the Paseo to cars and public transport, or keep it pedestrianized, permanently. …

“The decision is not in the hands of the municipality, but with the Chilean Ministry of Transport, which has already indicated that the street must be reopened to public transport. However, the mayor of Santiago, Felipe Alessandri, is advocating for Bandera to remain an exclusively pedestrian route and cultural space. …

“Although Fernández says that he is accustomed to his work being temporary or reversible, he hopes that the Paseo Bandera can remain as a pedestrian street, not only because it sets a precedent in the region, but because he believes such spaces create a sense of citizenship.”

Read about the ancient and modern themes of the mural and also about previous Santiago design innovations at CityLab, here.

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Around the country, art is playing a role in improving the livability of cities and towns.

Peter Brewitt writes at Orion magazine, “Over the past decade, communities across the nation have taken to beautifying their roads and intersections with hand-painted murals, slowing drivers as they go. Murals like these come at minimal cost — just buy some street-grade paint, get whatever permits your city requires, and figure out how to reroute traffic for a few hours. As people motor through the neighborhood, murals catch the eye, situate the mind, and lighten the right foot.

“Many of these creations did not begin as traffic-control devices — the goal was often to engage the neighborhood with itself, to display its spirits and hopes for the future, and to embrace the spaces that bind people together. But art touches drivers as well as neighbors …

Paint the Pavement [PtP], a street-art program in Saint Paul, Minnesota … offers support and advice, but the groups of friends and neighbors creating the art are self-organized and volunteer-run.”

Learn more about enlivening your neighborhood with pavement painting, here. Hat tip to Mary Ann on Facebook.

It’s an interesting art form. More lasting than children’s sidewalk chalks — which doesn’t mean that chalk is passé. In my work neighborhood, grownups have been taking up sidewalk chalk art, and I can attest that people smile when they see it.

Video: Vimeo and Orion magazine

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People interested in imaginative uses of space to make cities more livable should get over to the Boston Society of Architects on Congress St. before September 29, when an intriguing exhibit closes.

Eight of us visited at lunch today, and the BSA’s marketing director went around the Reprogramming the City exhibit with us pointing out highlights and answering questions.

We saw photos of a lamppost that doubles as an umbrella, a staircase in Hong Kong (below) made into a public lounge, bus stops in Sweden using sun lamps at night, a “low line” community space under a highway (like New York’s high-line concept but under not over), a repurposed parking machine that spits out “tickets” describing how a nearby problem area has been fixed by the city of Boston, street mosaics in Portugal that have a QR code for accessing tourist information, and a Dutch solution to recycling teddy bears and other usable goods curbside for passerby to pick up. The list goes on.

I tried to round up more people to join the excursion, but business meetings at lunch seem to come first. It always surprises me that folks don’t take advantage of cultural activities at lunch: we are surrounded by really nice ones. At least the farmers market is popular. People always have time for that.

More on Reprogramming the City at the BSA website, where you can take an audio tour.

Update 9/18/13 — See some great pictures from the exhibit at the Boston Globe, here.

Photo: Scott Burnham
The Cascade by Edge Design Institute, 2007, Central Hong Kong.
Right, Urban Air by Stephen Glassman, 2010.

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