Across our diverse fields we are tackling the question of how to better engage the bottom-up-open-source-distributed-tactical-informal-crowd phenomena surrounding us, whether in the service sector, the city, or the networked community. Read More …
The U.S. pavilion at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale featured American designers and artists deploying improvisational and even guerrilla tactics to make cities more sustainable, accessible, and inclusive. Hear from three of those artists whose works used heritage to create new opportunities and amenities for the public. From symbolic to practical, physical to virtual, whimsical to serious, these projects explore the interplay between unsanctioned and official, and suggest fresh tactics for engaging the public and revitalizing communities.
Mimi Zeiger, architecture journalist and critic
Richard Saxton and Stuart Hyatt, Campito, The M12 Collective
Graham Coreil-Allen, New Public Sites
Shaun Slifer, The Howling Mob Society
This spring I presented The Interventionist’s Toolkit at a symposium hosted by the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning. The Right to the City, which featured an exhibition along with the symposium, brought together architects, artists, historians, theorists and journalists; organized by architect Lee Stickells and artist Zanny Begg, the program took geographer David Harvey’s 2008 essay “The Right to the City” — with its evocation of Henri Lefebvre’s influential 1968 book — as its critical springboard. As Harvey wrote: “The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.” 
In recent years this argument has become a rallying cry for activists who oppose the neoliberal politics and policies of the contemporary city. There’s a romantic appeal, maybe even a sense of imminent empowerment, in the prospect of remaking our cities and thus ourselves — a notion that if we change our environments we will change our lives, or vice versa. But ever since the symposium, I’ve been wondering about how we might evaluate the results of those freedoms. How to rate the diverse architectural actions and urban interventions that seek to remake the city? Do knitted cozies for stop signs or street furniture made from discarded pallets rank higher or lower than municipal cultural events? How do we measure the impacts of ambiguously defined and informal activities that are not only creative and civic but also — lest we forget Harvey’s ourselves — emotionally charged?