Recaps: The Festival of Ideas Streetfest & New York Talks
May 12, 2011
View of The Worms outdoor structure alternative designed by Family and Playlab. Image (c) Caroline Couturier.
Last week was a big one for New York (and the architects, designers, and city enthusiasts that animate it). The Festival of Ideas street festival, a 50-foot model of Manhattan, giant neon worms winding down the Bowery, scads of lectures, events, and parties. If you caught all of it, you’re insane and we have no idea how you did it.
But, in the likely event that you missed a few things, intrepid contributors Caitlin Blanchfield and Caroline Couturier have documented the goings-on, and they’ve chronicled their experiences for you, after the jump.
P.S. Also stay tuned for party pics, coming later today!
Caroline Couturier: The Festival of Ideas Streetfest
Children enjoying the New Museum Education Department and Rockwell Group’s Imagination Playground. Image (c) Caroline Couturier.
Saturday’s Streetfest — part of the Festival of Ideas for the New City — attracted throngs of urban design, art and sustainability enthusiasts to the Lower East Side. Booths were set up along the Bowery and in Sarah Roosevelt Park under tarps and pink canvas “worm” tunnels, in tents and, in one case, inside an inflatable sphere connected to the back of a truck. Visitors weathered the scattered showers to take part in all sorts of urban interactions ranging from screen printing, mud and seed pod sculpting to brainstorming and answering questionnaires on barter networks. The fest also catered to children, with miniature city-crafting workshops and a collection of large electric blue foam modules which provided the fair’s little guests with hours of building and subsequent destroying fun. Highlights included a traveling troupe of silent dancers from Dance New Amsterdam who performed silent choreographies and battle enactments as well as aiop‘s human statues covered in brightly colored knitted bodysuits, resembling It’s Always Sunny‘s Greenman scattered around the Streetfest. Quirkier still was a project envisioned by artist Anne Katrin Spiess entitled G.R.E.E.N.H.O.U.S.E whereby participants were handed questionnaires by two sexy “nurses” which, upon completion, was reviewed by “doctor in residence” Stiess. After determining which stress factors affect her “patients” more, Stiess administered a liquid herbal mixture custom formulated to address each individual’s stress inducers. All in all, the Streetfest’s goal of engaging the community and fostering creative thinking was a huge success. The event was, undeniably, of great educational value with most festival-goers walking away having learned something. “Now the challenge lies in actually putting some of these ideas into practice,” said visitor Robin Nataf, who continued “it’s difficult finding sustainable ideas. These activities always seem great at first but quickly become tiresome with repetition.”
A demonstration on how to build your own hydroponic window farm. Image (c) Caroline Couturier.
The French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF) offered a cozy booth covered in Moroccan carpets and tapestries where visitors could listen to the sounds of Morocco mixed on vinyl, as part of their ongoing World Nomads Morocco Festival. Image (c) Caroline Couturier.
Dance New Amsterdam dancers performing a silent choreography on Rivington St. Image (c) Caroline Couturier.
Caitlin Blanchfield: New York Talks Recap
An architectural crowd convened on Mulberry street Monday night to bid farewell to a luminescent vision of Manhattan that had taken shape in the Openhouse gallery for last weekend’s Festival of Ideas for a New City. As Architizer readers likely know, the model was one result of Audi’s Urban Future Initiative and commissioned in collaboration with Architizer and Pin-Up. Over an evening of discussion, exploration and a little wine the closing reception proved that taking down the model by no means bookends the conversations delving into patterns of transportation, habitation and the urban ecology that the initiative, and the Festival, sparked.
Image (c) Caitlin Blanchfield.
People mingled and maneuvered through installations presenting the works of last year’s competition finalists including a colorful model with a pop up oculus by Alison, and listened to this years five finalist firms (Abruzzo Boziak, Labdora, Leong Leong, Matter and The Very Many) explain the new urban principles driving their schemes and how those would potentially play out in the existing landscape of Manhattan. Each firm was able to select their site and one of last year’s projects as a jumping off point. Luckily there was no overlap, and the five interventions wove a complementary fabric through Manhattan from The Very Many’s modulated stacking blocks along the Upper West Side to labDORAs twisted netting bridging spaces along the lower part of the east river (we can only imagine how big the model would have been if anyone had built in a different borough). Guiding themes such as the natural ecology of the city, new interpretations of zoning that optimize the use of space and integrated transportation networks became apparent in panel presentations and in questions, echoing topics that drove discussions throughout the entire Festival of Ideas. As the panel wrapped up, host and curator Troy Therrien remarked “I see most of you are architects and I’m sure have many questions. Let’s continue the conversation during the party.” As revelers gravitated towards the bar, to examine the model, and to talk the architects the conversation did continue, spilling out onto the street as people departed into the warm spring night. Considering the lifespan of last year’s competition projects (from Germany to Venice to London and New York), and the fact that interviews with the ten originally-considered practices will be published in the next issue of Pin-Up, Project New York will without a doubt continue to project visions for an urban future that reconsiders our relationship with the city as we move through it.
Image (c) Caitlin Blanchfield.