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Design Under Sky discusses landscape architecture, the utilitarian but leaning towards the conceptual, thinking on modern occurrences and peripheral boundaries.  

DUS is the blog and personal design studio of Adam E. Anderson, a designer based out of the East Coast, currently a Critic at the Rhode Island School of Design, and a designer at Landworks Studio.

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Wednesday
Feb252009

Urban Bliss Dissemination

{Photo by Ryan Brenizer}

For many unfortunate souls growing up inevitably means a life of fiscal concern and the overburdening stress of caring for families in a world filling with life changing systems.  It's OK, that's life.

But I've noticed through reminiscent conversations with friends over a bottle or two of Pinot that we never lose our affinity for childhood memories.  Many of us share a common thread, especially intergenerationally through similar cartoons we watched, games we played, and for me, our desperate plea bargains with our parents in an attempt to acquire the coveted new release of Air Jordans.

So it would seem that others outside of our inner circles might also share this affinty for remembering the freedom of our youth and joining in a public realm to relive it.

That's the essence of Newmindspace, which simply stated on their facebook page is a "quest to turn the cities of the world into giant playgrounds".

Newmindspace organizes free, fun, all-ages events like parties on subway cars, public pillow fights, giant games of capture the flag on city streets, massive bubble battles, public art installations and much more. Newmindspace is committed to reclaiming public space, inventing new ways of having fun, and creating community.

Created by Lori Kufner and Kevin Bracken while only 22 yrs. old, the initiative is gaining worldwide attention and has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, and The Village Voice.  Bracken says, "to think of an idea for an event, we take a favorite childhood activity such as a pillow fight or a game of capture the flag, remove it from its traditional setting, host the event on a concrete surface, and invite everybody.  Our goal is to overthrow the dominant entertainment paradigm, which is defined by passive, solo consumption experiences like watching television. We want to replace it with a more participatory, social culture where people actively create communities and take advantage of the richness of urban life. We also seek to reclaim public space from privatization by corporate sponsorship."

Reclaiming public spaces.  This is of course wonderful and possibly a bit more complicated to accomplish depending on your locale.  I immediantly imagined if a giant pillow fight were to be organized in my town of Newport Beach, which has more "NO' this or that signs then any city I've visited.  Believe or not, ala Footloose style, there are strongly enforced No Dancing rules at several local establishments.

But fortunately in more rationalized thinking parts of the world the events have been successful, and I wonder if these urban social events can influence design and landscape architecture.  Could we design ephemeral spaces which conjugate events of pure childlike bliss?  Parks whose elements entice spontaneous acts of innocent socially interactive play. Can communities with a same spirit of building a fort create their own urban playgrounds?  If this is possible, could we eradicate the need for the beauricratic red tape and political nuances of public works projects?  Hopefully you understand I'm thinking conceptually, but is it in ourselves to let out our inner child to actually build such spaces, or will the fun police prevail?

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