The Empire State Building is often lit in special ways to mark significant events and public sentiment, from turning pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Week, to doing its best Christmas tree imitation by lighting up red and green for Christmas.
For the US Presidential Election in November, CNN went one step further, turning the building into a landmark election tracker, raising and lowering blue and red columns of lights as voting results came in. As the Huffington Post reported:
“[CNN] announced that it planned to use part of the Manhattan skyline to track election results – lighting up the top of the tower with blue and red lights to signify President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney’s respective electoral counts. About an hour after the first polls closed, the top of the Empire State Building illuminated according to CNN’s projections.”
Housing can be challenging for even the most seasoned urban dweller, and friendly featured urban residents have their own challenges. Nests built in the nooks and crannies of the city can be considered a nuisance by building owners or city cleaning crews, and eggs and young chicks become tempting prey for rats and cats if they are accessible.
Designers Jeffrey Liu and Andrew Siu saw an opportunity to give birds a better shot at a happy home in the city by using Vancouver’s existing lamp posts and street signs as the supporting infrastructure for plug-in urban birdhouses.
By using powerful magnets as the attachment device, the birdhouses have the flexibility to not only attach to any metal post, but also to external metal buttresses, bridges, fire escapes, or any of a city’s many metal structures. The birdhouse colors were inspired by the work artists Haas & Hahn did to transform some of Brazil’s favelas, and their entry points were designed for easy access for birds from different directions, and a challenging point of entry for predators.
Additional photos and full process details can be found here.
It doesn’t take much to turn the most functional of urban structures into an opportunity for play.
As co-creator Ben Light explains, “Matt Richardson and I had a pretty straightforward idea, attach a tetherball to a street sign and see if passers-by not only take notice of it but actually engage in this familiar game in an unfamiliar setting.”
The subtle smiles and inquisitive looks of passers-by show both delight and a suppressed desire to hit the ball, with a few giving in to temptation. The real delight comes at about 3:10 when a spontaneous game of tetherball breaks out on the street.
Touchscreen pedestrian crossing interfaces are pretty attractive things, and incredibly useful, showing the fading green timeframe in which you can cross the street safely, and a solid red when you can’t. Students from HAWK University in Hildesheim, Germany thought these screens could be put to better use during their “do not walk” time, and invented a concept for them to become active screens for a quick game of Pong with a fellow pedestrian also waiting to cross on the other side.
The Guide defiitely prefers actual reuse over mockups, but some ideas are too good to leave in the renders folder. Mikhail Belyaev’s “lampbrella” is definitely one of those ideas.
As Belyaev explain’s on his Behance page:
Lampbrella – is a street lamp with umbrella. Can be installed anywhere in the city, where many people walk, but there are no canopies or large trees where you can hide from the rain. It is possible to use the rain sensor. As well as a motion sensor 360, which will report to electric drive in 2-3 minutes, that there is no people under an umbrella and it needs to be closed. The canopy lifts up and closes with a low-middle speed, not like usual umbrellas’ speed, so it is safety for people.
While newspaper bins have quickly gained almost cult status with their numerous reuses and repurposing in the city, their big brother, the news kiosk itself, hasn’t had as much reinvention applied to it. Until now.
In San Francisco, the owners of small press Colpa Press have rented a disused news kiosk and put it into more diverse service, serving as a pop up shop for their publications and assorted boutique press items. As the docpop blog notes:
Their pop-up shop, called Edicola, features a beautiful collection of hand-bound zines and art. I’ve been thinking about doing another zine sometime soon, and this shop was full of inspiring works from various photographers. If you get the chance, I highly recommend checking this shop out for yourself.
Image via docpopular on flickr
The Hamburg-based art collective WAV (We Are Visual) got in touch to share their latest project, the ‘Bahnradbahnrad’, or ‘Rail Bike While many cities are working to carve out bicycle lanes to accomodate the growing number of urban cyclists, WAV draws our attention to the fact that very efficient lanes of one sort already exist in many cities – tram lines. Looking at tram lines from an alternate use perspective makes a lot of sense – they’re solid, networked, already charted through high traffic areas of the city, and most of all – thoroughly mapped.
Cyclists know the last thing you want to do is slip into a tram track, so in Kassel, Germany, they turned the bike’s vulnerability into a feature – attach some stablising wheels and cycle IN the tracks themselves. Presto: Kassel’s tram tracks now become bike lanes. A styling alternate use indeed.
While street bollards in Paris are slightly more attractive than the those in cities like London with their near anti-tank-like capabilities, artist Paule Kingleur saw room to improve the visual and functional presence of Paris’s traffic barriers with is “Potogreen” initiative. Kingleur engaged some of the city’s 335,000 posts to create a series of micro gardens atop the posts.
An added feature of the post-top gardens is, as Treehugger reports:
The planters themselves are about as eco-friendly as you can get, made of discarded milk cartons collected from local businesses and wrapped in fabric pockets sewn out of recycled tents by Emmaus Maisons-Alfort, a rehabilitation association that works with homeless people.
Kingleur’s re-thinking of the potential of Paris barriers doesn’t end with urban gardening. His Les Potobos project is another example of a more visual take on the street posts as creative catalyst in the city.