Gameplay as Strategic Planning
Throughout the evolving landscape of South Philadelphia, and among the diverse populations that call the area home, cultural differences can sometimes keep neighbors from connecting or finding common ground. At Southwark School, located at South 9th and Mifflin Streets, designer strategists Gamar Markarian and Mateo Fernández-Muro are utilizing gameplay to break through these barriers.
This project, a partnership between Mural Arts’ Restored Spaces initiative, Trust for Public Land, Southwark School and Basurama, harnesses the fun and visual nature of games in order to create a new schoolyard and play space—a green, sustainable learning environment that serves as a useful community asset. Thanks to this lively yet strategic approach to collaborative planning, people from diverse backgrounds and experiences—neighbors, students, teachers, and parents from many different backgrounds, speaking many different languages—worked together in unexpected and meaningful ways to shape the urban environment.
Red de Mercados (Market Networks) Quito, Ecuador
Quito’s public markets are sites of contestation and struggle, both between social groups inside and between the markets and the city’s urban revitalization programs. In order to confront the forces of government policy and international capital-driven urban development, a group of leaders representing worker and vendor organizations in a few of Quito’s public markets have been attempting to create a solidarity network. However, spatial and social divisions between and within the markets have made it difficult to construct the meaningful, actionable, and lasting connections necessary for such a network.
The thesis proposes a critical pedagogical project, driven by community media creation, to support this already emerging network of solidarity. Following Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the design is an ensemble of tools and frameworks to open up potentials for the emergence of a collectively created market worker (including vendors and wage laborers) identity that can serve as a foundation for collective action in defense of the public markets. The tools include a short documentary re-presenting the information and perspectives gathered during the initial visits to Quito, a diagrammatic representation of the potato value chain that demonstrates how a scalar perspective can reveal connections between seemingly disparate social issues, and the creation of a short animation that recounts the history of increasingly uneven land ownership in the Sierra.
Right to Housing, NYC
The New York State Constitution declares A RIGHT TO HOUSING for persons of low income. Every New Yorker deserves a safe and affordable place to live. Yet the demand for affordable housing in New York City is not being met! Families are losing their homes every day, as expensive condominiums continue to rise. What can New Yorkers do to preserve affordability and create new housing opportunities? Bushwick, Brooklyn, is the front line of the real-estate changes sweeping NYC. This gazette contains an overview of the factors contributing Bushwick’s changing landscape, data about Bushwick’s housing today, and some proposals for alternative housing models for developments without displacement.
The proposal I worked on is currently being implemented by RiseBoro Community Partnership.
The Strands, New Orleans
Proposal for the ULI Hines Competition 2015, The Strands is an urban development “tapestry” weaving different ecosystems within which the site is interlaced. Threads of the individual strands combine into several elements to link to one another distinguishing the design fabric. Similarly, city and regional links to the site connect the surrounding vibrant neighborhoods and downtown New Orleans area within a few miles of the riverside waterfront to create a textured urban exchange. The landscape strand is divided into threads manifested as community parks, manicured rooftop gardens, ecosystems within stairwells in various buildings and a 32,700 square foot public walkway weaved through the site dubbed the Bienville Boardwalk.
Healthy Saida, Lebanon
Urban development strategies and interventions proposed during “Saida’s Old City: Which Urban Development Strategy?,” an urban planning and design workshop dictated by Mona Harb and Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj at American University of Beirut. The main outcomes of the studio were (a) comprehensive documentation of an urban setting through a variety of mapping and analytical tools, (b) analysis of the multiple layers making up the built environment, independently and relationally, (c) identification of urban issues vis-à-vis urban planning and design theories, (d) conceptualization and suggestion of integrated urban strategies using appropriate sets of planning tools and design elements, (e) development and detailing of all the components of the urban intervention strategies, and (f) professional presentation and argumentation of findings orally and via maps, visuals, and narrative reports.
CORPORATE VORTEX: A response to Roxy Paine’s Dinner of the Dictators, 1993-95
Roxy Paine's Dinner of the Dictators, 1993-95, challenges us to focus on the everyday existence of dictators. Their exercise of total power is not some otherworldly process disconnected from the course of day-to- day living, rather it is wrapped up within daily practice.
The Corporate Vortex flips Roxy Paine's perspective: rather than finding the banal within power, it explores structures of power within the banal. Focusing on three crops, sugar cane, maize, coffee, and the global expansion of three major transnational corporations, Nestle, Kellogg, Coca Cola, Corporate Vortex grounds these corporations within long-run historical human social structures. Connecting us to the everyday, ubiquitous character of these entities, the project problematizes these connections through the abstraction of the vortex. As the vortex grows, the web of relations becomes denser and less readable. In the process, history is obscured; the past drops away, leaving an endlessly variegated present. We cannot talk about corporations in the same way as we do dictators. Dictators have names, their bodies are always located somewhere, they must eat and sleep. Corporations are named entities, they have headquarters, but they are also unspecifiable, immaterial. They are embedded within persons and landscapes through everyday practices of consumption, but they are unlocatable, untouchable, unsleeping. They don't experience hunger. The corporate is both apart from us and within us.
This makes corporations difficult to resist because you don't always know them when you see them. They are everywhere and nowhere, hidden in plain sight.
Shibani Jadhav - Urban Practitioner, Part Time Faculty, Parsons School of Design/The New School
Chris London - Assistant Professor, International Affairs, The New School
Gamar Markarian - Urban Practitioner, Part Time Faculty, Parsons School of Design/The New School
Silvia Xavier - Designer and Urban Practitioner, MS 2016, Design and Urban Ecologies