Public Art and the Urban Experience

The Urban Sustainability Laboratory

Dean Saitta
July 15, 2015

The Biennial of the Americas kicks off this week in Denver. The Biennial was launched in 2010 by then Denver mayor (now Colorado governor) John Hickenlooper as a grand forum for talking about politics, education, business, the arts, and other subjects of interest to citizens. This year’s Biennial theme is NOW!.  It’s billed as an analysis of the present in light of the history that got us here and our plans for going forward. The three main organizing topics are Leadership, Business Trends, and Infrastructure. Several of these topics will be considered by a special panel of mayors (Denver’s Michael Hancock, Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi, and former Bogotá mayor Antanas Mockus) who will address “The Return of the City-State.” These civic leaders will discuss how cities are operating on the frontlines of many contemporary global challenges including growth, security, and trade.

As usual, many artists from…

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Two videos from AGI’s Future Cities Conference

Reblogged; original circulated by Doug Specht on URB-GEOG-FORUM:

On the 9th July I was fortunate enough to Chair the AGI’s Future Cities Conference in London. Although smaller than other AGI events, due in no small part to the tube strike, the event fostered some highly original ideas and interesting conversations. There were a great deal of inspiring and challenging discussions and presentations which I believe will aid us in driving forwards with the strategic optimism required to create amazing future cities.

All the talks are available on the AGI website for their members, but I have made my welcome address, summary and closing remarks available to all on YouTube for your interest.

Welcome address, or, ‘The age of strategic optimism’:

Summary and Closing remarks, or,  ‘The dystopian narrative and future cities’:

Dig the City / Carrot City / Urban Agriculture

Reblogged from Michael Hardman, Univ. of Salford, UK:

Dig the City is the largest urban gardening festival in the UK (see attached flyer). Amongst the show gardens, talks and other events, the University of Salford will be bringing Carrot City, the international exhibition on urban agriculture, to the festival. It is only the second time the exhibition will have appeared in the UK after a highly successful stint in Birmingham in 2012; this time it will be positioned in the Manchester Cathedral in the heart of the city centre (for more information see and

Dig the City 2015

Marxism and urban culture: A review



“Marxism and Urban Culture”, Benjamin Fraser, editor. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2014. Xvii + 253pp

Reviewed by Jan Blommaert

Since late March 2015, the Antwerp Grand Place offers a remarkable sight to the thousands of tourists passing to admire the city hall and the monumental fountain in front of it: dozens of Individual citizens stand there seemingly alone, several meters separating each from the other. They carry no slogans or banners, rarely even emblems of parties or organizations. There is no shouting or chanting, no fists in the air. Some are quietly reading a book, others chat with bystanders or plainclothes police officers. For this is a protest action called “the upstanding citizen”. It started as an individual initiative after an unauthorized sit-in there, protesting against racist remarks by the Antwerp Mayor, resulted in the mass arrest of over 200 people and the prohibition of follow-up protests. The City’s rules only allow…

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Six months. Two wheels. 50 GPS doodles.

Sketchbook of a GPS Artist

Since I started pedalling my art on the streets of Victoria on the first day of 2015, I’ve amassed a portfolio of 50 GPS doodles – 34 pictures, 11 bike-writing messages and five creations that comprise a combination of both. Click on the poster below to see 31 of my favourites…plus the one that started it all!

Below the poster, I’ve included the link to each featured GPS doodle and its accompanying write-up. Garmin GPS Strava art by Stephen Lund in Victoria BC street art urban art GPS=tracking art 32 of the 50 GPS doodles Stephen Lund has created since January 1, 2015, using his bicycle, his Garmin Edge 800, tens of thousands of calories and a whole lot of creative energy




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Streetlife: The Shifting Sociologies of the Street symposium

Sensory Studies in Antiquity

Streetlife: The Shifting Sociologies of the Street symposium – University of Kent (Medway Campus) Tuesday 15 September 2015, 10.00 – 18.00. This symposium – and a subsequent special issue of Sociological Review – will act as a spur to take the street more seriously in contemporary sociology, and will demonstrate the value of a more careful scrutiny of the importance of the street as a site, scale and field for sociological research. For its relevance to sensory studies, note in particular Monica Degen’s keynote ‘Sensing street atmospheres: reflections on methods’.

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Summer Reading: “Walkable City” by Jeff Speck

Exploring Inequality

What makes a house or apartment great has a lot to do with its location. In “Walkable City,” Jeff Speck writes that living in neighborhoods with mixed-use zoning—where all the different types of necessary businesses are close by—reduces carbon emissions far more than could any green gizmo. Not only are pedestrian-friendly areas good for the environment, but they also appeal to many Americans, including the “creative class” Millennials that many cities are trying to court. Speck argues that walking and bicycling don’t depend on climate, but on design; after all, brisk Minneapolis has been declared the best city in America for bikers. Walkable cities decrease obesity, car fatalities, and the stress caused by long driving commutes—and, according to Speck, they can be created anywhere.


Pictured: Not Atlanta

Many of Speck’s tips for making a city walkable match up with my own experience as a pedestrian in Atlanta. Curb-cuts—places where cars…

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Two awards for Venezuelans

{FAVEL issues}

post by Silvia Soonets

I’m happy to report two awards recently won by Venezuelan architects. Both go to projects dealing with informal settlements and poverty.

PICO won the ASF-AWARD-2015 with their project  Spaces for Paece, that we discussed in a recent post. The award goes to inspiring projects, with the motto, Learning South of North. The award site is worth a visit, as it presents a variety of interesting projects.

Earlier this year, Ana Cristina Vargas won the Dubai International Award for Best Practices, for her project Tracing Public Space, in Mumbay.  The project was her MIT thesis.

She is now back in Venezuela, and is working in the application of her research in our “barrios”. Today we attended to a conference where Ana Cristina showed her interesting  and touching work. I’m not giving any details as she has promised a guest post for the next weeks. Meantime…

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