City and Regional Planning

Posted October 14, 2014

PennPlanning Urban Design students take on Park(ing) Day!

PennPlanning's Urban Design Studio, The Public Realm, taught by Professor of Practice Evan Rose, participated in Park(ing) Day.  The studio split into two "spaces" with different designs. 

The project statement for the first group, We Cup, is: "Social media is a platform that allows for mass participation in public discourse. It provides users with new means of expression and connections. It affects our daily life and reshapes our informal personal interaction with one another. For this Parking Day intervention we hope to reconsider/replay/deploy social media on physical ground - places where people have traditionally gathered to demonstrate their opinions publicly.  We aim to demonstrate how communications from the instant “digital” medium might be offered in the physical world hoping to foster some new perspectives on how people used to and continue to interact beyond their smartphones and laptops."

The Second group's, Come and Take a Seat!, project started  to take its form as we curiously  thought  about why people put their belongings around  their seats to privatize a public space. We began searching for an answer and imagined what would happen if a public space enforces you to negotiate with a stranger  to enjoy that space, which is really for everyone at anytime. Thus, our project proposed to create a public space of instability and imbalance, which utilize the designed furnitures that must act together,  to transition  into a space of stability and balance.

The furniture idea came from a series of gears that are interlocked  with each other. As one of the circles turns,  the other  must turn,  too. Using this idea, we created furnitures made of cardboards  and paper tubes. These are designed in such a way that they have a tendency  to topple over when attempted to be used by one single person. The furnitures become stable only when they are interlocked  with another  person’s furniture in this public space.

Thus, the instability of these furnitures (both in plan and in section) forces the users to negotiate with each other  to enjoy the space because you can only establish stability by interlocking  your chair with another  person’s chair. Here, the negotiation  does not have to occur with words. It can just be a slight motion of nodding a head or smiling to each other  to figure out which circle to turn/sit so the other person can also find stability as you do.