Group Efforts, a New Book from Columbia Books on Architecture and the City

The following images are from Group Efforts: Changing Public Space, recently published by Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, and edited by Gavin Browning. The book is an illustrated chronicle of projects organized by the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University in collaboration with Elastic City.

The first three slides are from a project by Hayal Pozanti and Todd Shalom entitled in “Subjective Contours.” On Saturday, October 13, 2013 Pozanti and Shalom led two groups of twelve on Subjective Contours, a participatory walk through Manhattan’s West Village, at 2pm and 5pm. The walk lasted eighty-five minutes and required the following materials: acetate film, a camera, colored tape, envelopes, markers, stamps, and springs.

In “Analog Shopping,” participants were asked to:

1. Circle the building and find the best angle.
2. Create a frame on the transparency using a marker.
3. Sketch the contours, such as the outlines of buildings. Forget depth; envision the world flat like on a screen.
4. Fill the contours with color or patterns

In “Listen,” participants were given the following instructions and had ten minutes to complete:

1. Find a partner and decide who wants to have their eyes closed and who wants to have their eyes open.
2. Person with your eyes closed: walk toward what you want to listen to. Your ears are microphones. Feel free to take the arm or hand of your partner.
3. Person with your eyes open: please take care of your partner. Make sure they do not walk into traffic or bump into anything.
4. Do not talk to each other unless it’s urgent.
5. We will walk straight down this street to its end, then reverse roles

In “Occupy Space,” participants had five minutes and were asked to:

1. Enter the cavity of this building.
2. Using just your bodies, fill as much space as possible.
3. Create a web with your arms and legs.

The next images are from the “Inflatable General Assembly,” a project by Greta Hansen, Kyung Jae Kim, and Adam Koogler, in which an inflatable structure was placed in Sara D. Roosevelt Park and Seward Park on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The structure was made in response to and in sympathy with the Occupy Movement. As Kyung Jae Kim describes it:

We intended to make a symbolic gesture, not occupy territory. The Inflatable General Assembly would be a flag from the encampment to the city outside, in the same way the pro-democracy protestors used umbrellas in Hong Kong in 2014. They created a beautiful canopy to signal their presence.

The final three images are from “Mandala: Reimagining Columbus Circle,” a project led by Karen Finley. The project entailed a group of participants walking around the Circle and contemplating the various elements that comprise it from the statue of Christopher Columbus and corporate offices to trees and plants. In responding to the purpose of reimagining this space, Karen Finley responded:

Is it an opportunity to make amends, and to include more voices in Columbus Circle. I would change the name and hold rituals and ceremonies to activate it in a new way. A festival to bring awareness to what our buildings and landscapes hold, to the sacred trail that was exploited to build Broadway.

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