Afternoon walk, Enskede 4 May 2020

28. Slowdown landscapes: Small pieces, loosely joined

How the virus reinforces the value of different patterns for our social infrastructure, infrastructure, farming, and habitation. From the eco-feminist robots of pixel farming to inverting San Francisco’s sewers as gardens.

Dan Hill
Dan Hill
Sep 24, 2020 · 34 min read
Victor Papanek unpacks ‘function’
Tapiola, Espoo, Finland. One of the few urban planning references in Papanek’s ‘Design for the Real World’

A local code of small green spaces, loosely joined

Parametric models of super-local environmental adaptations, ‘Local Code’, Nicholas De Monchaux (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016)

A distributed social infrastructure of small playgrounds, loosely joined

Rainproof Amsterdam communications material
Amsterdam playgrounds designed by Aldo Van Eyck, described in Slowdown Paper 15

Tech in, city out

COVID patterns of small markets, loosely joined

Shift Architecture Urbanism superlocal food market for pandemic-times
Plotting Shift’s distributed micro-market proposal over the estimated locations of ~40 of the 700 post-war playgrounds built to Aldo Van Eyck‘s designs, loosely layered on an invisible central Amsterdam and Rotterdam combined, reveals a far more effective, resilient, equitable, and potentialy sustainable distributed pattern of neighbourhoods, as opposed to the tendency for centralising and unsustainable megamalls, big box retail parks, and central business districts.

Pixel farming‘s small crops, loosely joined

“A super complicated futuristic farming system that looks and acts like nature but can only be managed by tender swarms of tiptoeing ecofeminist robots that haven’t been invented yet …”—Lenora Ditzler, in Countryside: A Report, AMO (Taschen 2020)

The photo barely conveys it, but imagine each of these micro-plots, each differently planted with super-precise companion planting principles under each white label, each its own hugely diverse agricultural plot, a field in microcosm.
Pixel cropping with the FarmBot at Landgoed Zuylestein. Photo: Talis Bosma
Deem issue 1 has some good articles on excellent Black and Indigenous farming projects in the USA

The One-Minute City of the street

Street Moves and Framtidsgator projects, Stockholm, September 2020. Much more to come about this, but the top photos reveal the modular street furniture (in timber) which can progressively repair the street by diversifying what happens in parking spaces: a small pieces, loosely joined strategy, with a direction
‘The Racial Injustice of American Highways’, Linda Poon, Bloomberg CityLab, 3 June 2020
Theaster Gates (photo: by Julien Faure-Paris Match/Contour/Getty Images)

“Simplifying to start a new complex order”—Theaster Gates

Stony Island Arts Bank: “The restored Stony Island Arts Bank provides the South Side of Chicago with 17,000 square feet of space for innovation in contemporary art and archival practice. Programs at Stony Island include Arts Bank Cinema, which is a free weekly screening and analytical discussion of films by and about black people, and exhibitions curated by and in partnership with local artists.” Amazingly, it features the Frankie Knuckles Collection, the personal vinyl collection of the godfather of Chicago house.
Chicago Arts and Industry Commons: “Reimagining the Civic Commons is a three-year, national initiative that aims to revitalize public spaces and connect people of all backgrounds, cultivate trust within communities, and reverse the trends of social and economic fragmentation in cities and neighborhoods.” (Includes St. Laurence School, Kenwood Gardens, Garfield Park Power House (pictures directly above), Stony Island Arts Bank Campus (above) and more.)
Dorchester Art and Housing Collaborative (DAHC): “Dorchester Art and Housing Collaborative (DAHC) … consists of 32 units made for those who receive affordable and low-income housing support with an amazing space for theater and dance, the mission is to first share culture with the folk residing in those 32 units. The work is quiet and sincere and beautiful. I am so grateful for the generations of teams that have helped me in these efforts.”
Citizen foresters for the nonprofit group The Greening of Detroit, planting a tree in the Osborn neighborhood in Detroit in 2016, as reported in ‘Why Detroit Residents Pushed Back Against Tree-Planting’
Detroit, December 2019

“It’s not that they didn’t trust the trees; they didn’t trust the city.”—Brentin Mock

Slowdown Papers

A series of reflections and loose extrapolations, based on the early impact of the Coronavirus

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Dan Hill

Written by

Dan Hill

Designer, urbanist, etc. Director of Strategic Design at Vinnova, Swedish govt’s innovation agency. Visiting prof UCL Bartlett IIPP + Design Academy Eindhoven

Slowdown Papers

The Slowdown Papers are a series of observations, reflections and loose extrapolations, based on the early impact of the Coronavirus COVID–19 pandemic, particularly on the way we make decisions about cities, systems, infrastructures, cultures, and technologies.

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