Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

First published in the exhibition catalogue for Vacancy: Urban Interruption and (Re)generation, edited by curator Neysa Page-Lieberman. (You can download a PDF of the catalogue or order the hard copy through the Glass Curtain Gallery.) Read More …

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

Advisory Board Member and Respondent

In 2030, the world’s population will be a staggering eight billion people. Of these, two-thirds will live in cities. Most will be poor. With limited resources, this uneven growth will be one of the greatest challenges faced by societies across the globe. Over the next years, city authorities, urban planners and designers, economists, and many others will have to join forces to avoid major social and economical catastrophes, working together to ensure these expanding megacities will remain habitable.

To engage this international debate, Uneven Growth brings together six interdisciplinary teams of researchers and practitioners to examine new architectural possibilities for six global metropolises: Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, New York, and Rio de Janeiro. Following on the same model of the MoMA exhibitions Rising Currents and Foreclosed, each team will develop proposals for a specific city in a series of workshops that occur over the course of a 14-month initiative.

Uneven Growth seeks to challenge current assumptions about the relationships between formal and informal, bottom-up and top-down urban development, and to address potential changes in the roles architects and urban designers might assume vis-à-vis the increasing inequality of current urban development. The resulting proposals, which will be presented at MoMA in November 2014, will consider how emergent forms of tactical urbanism can respond to alterations in the nature of public space, housing, mobility, spatial justice, environmental conditions, and other major issues in near-future urban contexts.

Urban Case Study Teams:
New York: Situ Studio, New York, and Cohabitation Strategies (CohStra), Rotterdam
Rio de Janeiro: RUA Arquitetos, Rio de Janeiro, and MAS Urban Design ETH, Zurich
Mumbai: URBZ, Mumbai, and Pop Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge
Lagos: NLÉ Architects, Lagos, and Inteligencias Colectivas, Madrid
Hong Kong: MAP Office, Hong Kong, and Network Architecture Lab, Columbia University, New York
Istanbul: Superpool, Istanbul, and Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée, Paris

Following the debate “Communication and Bottom-UP. The importance of the way stories are being told.” we [at dpr-barcelona] are committed to expand the debates and conversations avoiding them to get lost after a few days of the event. That’s why we’re publishing this digital-pamphlet [kindle + ePub] exploring the thought and ideas of thinkers and doers; articulated by simple detonating questions posed through emails, tweets and conversations intending to communicate effectively the very essence of the debate: “the importance of telling stories.” Read More …

his past December, just as retailers were making their holiday markdowns and non-profits issuing their year-end appeals, the Storefront for Art and Architecture was opening its last exhibition of 2011. Spurred by Occupy Wall Street, Strategies for Public Occupation featured “projects and strategies that offer a new, creative and productive way of spatial occupation for public demonstrations and actions in cities throughout the world.” In parallel Storefront hosted a week of workshops, performances and lectures in which artists and architects presented their own interpretations of the Occupy movement. Strategies for Public Occupation was, in short, intended to be a summation of interventionist practices and a wide-ranging discussion about the relationships among citizens, cultural producers and public space.

Unfortunately, Storefront got the title wrong.

Read More …

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.” [1]

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?

Read More …

A squat retail building in New Orleans’ Marigny neighborhood sits empty. Delta Countertops & Cabinets, its last tenants, are long gone, and the storefront is tagged with graffiti, including baby blue cursive spelling out “Sauce!” A glossy poster, roughly two-feet-high by four-feet-wide, hangs off center on the metal siding. The poster features a cheery illustration that might portend new development — housing, perhaps, or a revived commercial strip to replace the down-on-its-luck building? Closer inspection of the colorful rendering reveals a new future for the rundown structure. In the illustration the building is transformed into an ersatz mobile grocery. It’s raised high in the air and mounted on the back of a pickup; there’s a cascade of jumbo shrimp tumbling out of it. Airborne bananas and giant carrot-shaped street benches add to a festive composition. In the upper right hand corner is a logo and the enigmatic words: The Hypothetical Development Organization.

The poster is fiction.

But it is also a commentary on the need for grocery stores in underserved communities. Conceived by graphic designer/urban planner Candy Chang, and entitled Mobile Cornucopia, it is a piece in the new collective art project, The Hypothetical Development Organization (H.D.O.). Read More …

Essay: “Comforts, Crisis, and The Rise of DIY Urbanism” in Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture and the Future of Public Space, edited by Mark Shepard.

Sentient City: ubiquitous computing, architecture and the future of public space is an edited volume of case studies and essays that critically address the evolving relations between contemporary technologies and urban life.

This book expands on an exhibition that I curated in the fall of 2009 titled Toward the Sentient City. Documentation (text, images, diagrams, photographs) of the projects realized for the exhibition is combined with that of preliminary experiments, background research, material studies, interaction prototypes, and the subsequent analysis and interpretation of the data generated by the projects’ implementation.

Complementing these case studies, a series of critical essays reflect on the larger implications of ubiquitous computing for the way we think about architecture in general and the design of urban space in particular. Building on a series of responses to the exhibition contributed by writers and theorists of architecture, urbanism, media theory, technology and related fields, these critical reflections are intended to help the reader situate what may at first appear to be novel questions about the intersection of ubiquitous computing, architecture and urban space in terms of more long-standing and established discourses on the technological mediation of urban life and the role architects, urban designers, and technologists alike might play in shaping its future evolution.

Case studies by David Benjamin, Soo-in Yang, and Natalie Jeremijenko; Haque Design + Research; SENSEable City Lab; David Jimison and JooYoun Paek; and Anthony Townsend, Antonina Simeti, Dana Spiegel, Laura Forlano, and Tony Bacigalupo.

Essays by Keller Easterling, Matthew Fuller, Anne Galloway, Dan Hill, Omar Khan, Saskia Sassen, Trebor Scholz, Hadas Steiner, Kazys Varnelis, Martijn de Waal, and Mimi Zeiger.

Published by the Architectural League of New York and MIT Press.