in.sitecollaborative was brought into the Philadelphia Assembled Project by Jeanne van Heeswijk in February 2017. We were tasked with working on a city panorama mural that would be the backdrop to the exhibition when the project finally entered the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This city panorama mural was to visualize the journey of this 3 year project that included 160+ collaborators by mapping resistance and resilience across time, place, and people - amplifying an alternative narrative of how Philadelphia has and continues to transform. This is just one part of the full exhibit that has taken over the Perelman Building including all the gallery spaces, cafe, auditorium, and outdoor patio.
With direction from Jeanne, we began researching precedents for interactive exhibition designs and delving into any Project documentation that existed to learn about the conversations, meetings, philosophies, activities, interconnections that were taking place over the 3 years of the project. While we presented a framework for visualizing concept design, the final panels and content went through many iterations, as conversations with the core mural team and presenting to the Project Collaborators at different stages shaped the final output. Throughout the process, in.site focused on the historical multi-scalar timeline and mapping data, as Bri and Charlyn illustrated the stories and themes of each atmosphere. Jason was the lead designer who brought all of our work together into the panels that are displayed with Janneka.
Concept Design • Historical Research • Mapping Data
This was an intensive collaboration between many partners that took place across states, at times even continents, with each of us often working quite remotely. It was an amazing use of technology in a beautiful way that allowed people of different skills and talents to work together in a productive and meaningful way toward a common goal.
The full exhibit is open in the Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from September 9, 2017 until December 10, 2017. The exhibit will be activated with programming throughout the fall. Stay tuned for workshops we will facilitate with our mural team collaborators. Reach out if you would like to use the city panorama mural as a tool for a workshop.
Urban Scrawl is a student-run zine that features various interpretations and representations of urbanism. The process entailed in this extracurricular project is entirely collaborative. Together, the diverse backgrounds and skills of the students are put to practice in constructing a new, progressive narrative around the urban. The intention behind launching the zine was to express ourselves not only as theorists and practitioners but also as artists, poets, writers and scientists committed to creative discourse.
Editorial Team: Rania Dalloul, Nadia Elokdah, and Katerina Vaseva.
When thinking of cities as shaped by active engagement and lived experience, conversations involving multiple voices from multiple actors are possible. An important moment is when the formation of strategic alliances begins to manifest. If these alliances prioritize complex identity as a foundation for diversity and cultural initiatives, they will consciously move toward a practice of co-design using the urban imaginary as a vehicle for inclusivity of multiple voices and aspirations. The exhibit was a prototype of this. Recommendations stemming from the use of the urban imaginary as transformative urban practice might then form a pluralistic framework for arts and culture within urban governance in Philadelphia.
The collaborative team set out to design methods of engaging a wider audience in the internal co-production of alternative imaginaries and aimed to activate spaces of civic engagement through discourse in the public sphere. We looked to anchor institutions, public schools, art in public space programs, and applied for an opportunity to display work in City Hall through the OACCE Art in City Hall program. Al-Bustan was selected to curate an exhibition of original artwork to be on display in a fifth-floor corridor, in-between judges chambers, hearing rooms, City Council offices, and local government administration. This location is quite unique as an exhibition space and the project team discussed extensively what its contents and purpose should be in order to best utilize the symbolic power of a direct engagement with the urban imaginary inside City Hall. Ultimately, we saw this as a ripe occasion for exercising our theory as intervention within the paradigm of governmentality; we must determine how to most effectively design an exhibition that feels inclusive to multiple voices – local government employees, civil servants, visitors and guests, possibly even the Mayor. This remains a pivotal goal for producing pluralistic space of co-design within this City Hall corridor.
This opportunity manifested as the exhibition, “We Went Looking for Home but We Found,” which featured a recent collaborative, multimedia art display, taking the form of a simple counting book, that explores how home and identity shape and influence one another. This exhibit provided a platform upon which to share the collaborative workshop-style process inherent to Al-Bustan’s youth programs by presenting the final book pages along one wall while the facing wall displayed photographs of the making process. Throughout the planning stages, many ideas were exchanged, however, my primary influence was the creation of a new interactive dimension to “We Went Looking for Home but we Found” that would pose questions to the audience about their own identity and its relationship to the shaping of Philadelphia.
CO-DESIGNING SPACES OF PLURALITY
Collectively we decided to make an interactive board that have a series of questions visitors could respond to on provided paper squares to pin up for others to see. This was designed as such for two reasons. First, this process is imitable to the program design, which produced the counting boards on display. This process allows for the participant to sit with the question, ruminate as to what is the breadth of the question posed before committing to an answer to share. Secondly, this corridor will serve a distinctly different function from that of a common room for a large group working together for weeks at a time producing conditions of trust for meaningful discourse. Therefore, we designed a board that intends to provoke discourse, however delayed it might be. By doing so, participants could post an answer to a question and then return a few days later to see what other responses were generated; perhaps an individual felt an answer was powerful or provocative or amusing and replied in kind. Ultimately, the idea is focused toward multiple voices contributing to the discursive production of the space of the fifth floor corridor. This interactive element wants to discover what kind of environment could be produced with such a diverse cross-section of participants involved?
Reflecting upon the intent of this pilot practice, the complete process of curating this exhibition is quite informative to the initial aims of engaging the urban imaginary as an active form of practice. However, this process is equally unsuccessful in regard to the ambitious goal of co-designing a discursive space of pluralism.
It is important to speak about the ways in which the exhibition, “We Went Looking for Home but We Found,” begins to craft a process of co-design – through the exercise of civic engagement in the public sphere. Bilfulco, citing Appadurai, discusses how capacity and voice act together in social spaces of co-design to promote the inclusion of multiple voices and multiple belongings, “It is through the exercise of voice (the capacity to debate, contest, inquire, and participate critically) that the sinews of aspiration as cultural capacity are built and strengthened, and conversely, it is through exercising the capacity to aspire that the exercise of voice … will be extended.” Habermas, Lefebvre, and Torre all indicate a discursive process is a necessary feature of the production of space within democratic practice. For Lefebvre discursive production of urban space is realized through material, human, and social infrastructures. Torre remarks with a similar sentiment, “public space… and its representation… is the product of the inextricable relationship between social action and physical space.”
This thesis asks of the exhibition, how can a discursive process from which a space of pluralism manifests be co-produced and co-designed, inclusive of disparate, complex, and fluctuating identities? Discursive co-production and in particular co-design, offers an actionable lens through which to understand theory as practice that can potentially illuminate the relationship between Madanipour’s empirical dichotomy, social exclusion and the city, and Said’s theoretical urban imaginary. To complete a final reflection of the exhibition as well as the experimental nature of actionable theory as a whole explored through this thesis, I offer a three-part summary.  Finding Pluralism in the Gaps;  Inclusion and Accountability; and  Actionable Theory in Found Spaces – A Proposal.
Graduate students from the Theories of Urban Practice and Design and Urban Ecologies programs jointly published a report entitled Designing for an Equitable New York in Fall 2013.
This policy recommendation report was the final student-developed project of the Urban Colloquium course, taught by Part-Time Faculty Paul White and Shin Pei-Tsey. Design, layout, and edits by Aran Baker, Rania Dalloul, Marcea Decker, Nadia Elokdah, and Lindsay Reichart.
Exploring the radically diverse Chinese urban centers of Beijing and Hong Kong through photographs.
Investigating Urban Renewal in the Lower East Side
In collaboration with the Theories of Urban Practice Program at Parsons School of Design and 596 Acres.
Incoming and returning students from the Theories of Urban Practice MA program worked on an intensive one-week workshop based in the SPURA site in the Lower East Side, edging Chinatown. The workshop, lead by Sam Stein and Drew Tucker, with community partner 596 Acres and Cooper Square Committee, focussed on the contemporary redevelopment of the SPURA site that was also part of a never completed urban renewal plan. This was a way to question and engage with many critical issues of urbanism in New York City: land, housing, politics, governance, gentrification, and the constant redesigning of the city. The workshop ended with an exhibition showcasing the student’s findings and interpretation of this complicated site on Governor’s Island in the Spontaneous Interventions space with community partner 596 Acres.
This exhibit highlights the contradiction of urban renewal as both a specific historical moment and an ongoing social process. We envision urban renewal as a layered process: a continuum in constant flux, not an event with a definitive beginnings and endings. This creates an opening for us to reflect on various possibilities for urban renewal’s futures.
The expansive and changing nature of urban renewal creates many opportunities for intervention. The SPURA site, with its own complex and resilient history, offers a space for transformation. Nearby, Cooper Square provides an alternative scenario with a very different outcome.
Through this research and design process, we have raised a number of questions:
• Who makes a community?
• Who is urban renewal?
• What happened between Seward Park, SPURA and Essex Crossing?
• What are the tensions, dynamics, voices and realities that shape SPURA, both spatially and temporally?
• Who benefited from SPURA’s 40-year ‘vacancy’ and who will benefit from its future development?
This work brings to light the complex, overlapping layers that form the city by mapping its past, present, and future on three interactive layers: federal legislation; local actors and institutions; and personal accounts. Building on the possibilities for intervention, we open up a dialogue for the future and the timeline diverges in infinite directions.
An ongoing and collaborative partnership between Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture and in.site collaborative partners Nora Elmarzouky and Nadia Elokdah has resulted in a series of co-designed workshops situated within an interactive exhibition exploring how diverse communities shape, imagine, and reimagine home in Philadelphia. Participants are encouraged to draw, write, and discuss with neighbors their thoughts and imaginaries related to and representative of home as an extension of identity. This latest workshop #ReimagineHome is set in the Looking for Home Exhibition, part of the Seldom Seen: Community Sourced Exhibition and Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia Project at the Painted Bride gallery.
The Informal Urbanisms: Agents of Public Space in Union Square workshop is comprised of two groups of students from Parsons The New School for Design and the University of Sao Paulo worked together in New York City from January 12th – 23rd in an intensive workshop employing the experimental approach of Research-as-Practice. The Research-as-Practice model resulted in a workshop that was open-ended, where a specific goal and outcome were not predetermined. Rather, the goals and outcomes emerged throughout the workshop while we simultaneously researched the topic by engaging with APS.
INFORMAL URBANISMS | URBANISMOS INFORMAIS
Opportunities for intervention exist between the exchanges that occur within systems of formal and informal urbanisms. There are various types of urbanisms that exist within the realm of informality – ranging from being a dog walker to having a barber shop comprised entirely of a chair on a sidewalk with a mirror precariously hung on an adjacent brick wall. While all forms of informal urbanisms take advantage of the potential that the city has to offer as a resource, street vending in particular benefits from added layers of ambiguity and even its consequential counterpart: precariousness. Ambiguity is manifested in the transactions and encounters that take place between the informal and the formal, the accessible and the inaccessible, and the known and the unknown. Our research attempts to map out these moments of transaction in order to locate instances of ambiguity.
Vários são os meios possíveis para a intervenção entre os sistemas de urbanismo formais e informais. A informalidade no campo do urbanismo é complexa e variada – desde um artista de rua até um vendedor de comidas com todos seus equipamentos. Enquanto todas as atividades informais aproveitam o potencial que a cidade tem para oferecer como um recurso, o ambulante em especial acrescenta a ela camadas adicionais de ambiguidade e até mesmo o seu inverso, a precariedade. A ambiguidade é manifestada nas transações e encontros que ocorrem entre o informal e o formal, o acessível e o inacessível, e o conhecido e o desconhecido. Nossa pesquisa tenta mapear esses momentos de intersecção, a fim de localizar os casos de ambiguidade.
Exploring the beautiful and historic city of Cairo, and its hinterland, through photography.
Treehouse Books is a registered non-profit that provides educational programs to disadvantaged youth in North Philadelphia. The interest generated by Treehouse’s many programs has taxed their modest facilities, forcing this group to seek other spaces to serve an ever-growing body of students and programs.
In response, the IDC worked with a team of Temple students to design and construct a radical restructuring of the land behind this community group – a small parcel of real estate that contained too much trash,
The second filter would be applied to the sky, providing enough shade to dramatically reduce the heat of the sun, but not enough to kill the
Eventually, the team landed upon a tectonic approach that utilized origami to strengthen and unite scraps of construction fencing. The resulting canopy not only provided the requisite amount of shade, but also helped to create a playful, durable, and child-scaled garden oasis within the tough urban environment of North Philadelphia.
FUNDING SUPPORT: The International Design Clinic.
PARTNERSHIPS: Treehouse Books of North Philadelphia, North Philadelphia Neighborhood Group, Temple University and the International Design Clinic.
Sharing the exchanges of people and places within our neighborhoods
In collaboration with Word Up Bookshop, a community hub in central Harlem, a team of five led an arts-based story-sharing exchange over a free lunch. Through a guided workshop, participants brought to the table personal histories, experiences of change, and ideas of belonging within one’s neighborhood through a creative art-making process. Afterward, we had a discussion reflecting on identity, urban imaginaries, and actionable reactions to problems and/or possibilities individuals saw within their neighborhoods.
Purpose: Encountering Community
Theme: Narrative of Place; Identity Shaping Culture of Place; and Planning to Stay
Outcome: Strangers meeting strangers; Building of new partnerships across neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, and Upper Manhattan that allows for recognizing similarity within diversity; Strengthening of weak-ties across community; and finally, having residents think about a desirable future of their neighborhood in order to generate ideas about enhancing the present.
Untranslatable NYC: reflections on the beginnings of an ongoing workshop
Italy-based urbanists, Lorenzo Romito of Stalker and Christian Costa of Spazi Docili, engaged us in a very challenging and dynamic workshop -- an unforgettable week of research-driven dialogue and walking methods. The biggest obstacle we faced was the weather, which became inclusive to our process, and an unavoidable factor in our research. January in New York City, is certainly not the best time of year to be walking on an unplanned route in a large group, for long hours at a time; but we took that challenge to be an element of our workshop, and our relationship to the landscape became that much more interesting.
The idea was to work off “The Climb” -- a map of green spaces connected via a path devised by Mindy Fullilove, a great mentor to many urbanists at Parsons, and beyond. This map outlined our general site: Northern Manhattan. Our group was diverse in experience; some native to the city and the neighbourhoods, while others hailed from across the globe.
Over the weekend, we broke off into small groups, only sharing the 1 train as a point of departure. In our groups, we immersed ourselves in various spaces, landscapes, and neighbourhoods. Interacting with the locals, challenging our own understandings, and collecting found artifacts which spoke to us individually. When we reconvened as a collective, we found intersections and contradictions in our observations, and wonderful anecdotes and experiences to draw from. These individual experiences informed but did not restrict the next two days of walking -- we set out in larger groups this time, challenged by our own numbers, discouraged by the weather, and unfamiliar to our pathways.
As per our workshop leader’s advice, we dined together over local fare and exchanged jokes, ideas and frustrations over our warm meals before we set out to complete our walk for the day. This activity found us unknowingly immersed in the heart of our workshop’s group dynamics, whilst also immersed in the heart of a neighbourhood restaurant, bursting with a culture so particular to that block, it became clear to us that we were engaging without intention, and our experiences became untranslatable to others and in some cases ourselves.
Drawing from and upon these notions we congregated once more in our workshop room, over hot coffee and sandwiches, connecting questions, dots, moments and recollections from our week together. This exercise took many forms and directions and created an exciting foundation for what is to come.
When the time came to bid our guests, Lorenzo and Christian, goodbye, our work had only just begun. The group has grown closer, and our intentions bolder, as we look onto the semester to make sense of our experiences, untranslatable and all.