Depending on the way they are designed and set up, public spaces in our cities can be drab, uninspiring places, even with an injection of 'fun' public art -- which may or may not remain for the community's benefit.
Dutch designer Thor Ter Kulve takes another tack by addressing those ordinary components of the streets -- trash bins, street lamps and fire hydrants -- and by way of clever interventions, creates something different in an altogether fun, playful and interactive public experience.
The term public space somehow suggests that urban environments are open to our free use. The reality is that public space is over regulated. There is little room for free use, no room for play. A serious obstacle is zoning or urban planning with the attached discussions on what is permissible where and the ambition to regulate on this for the long run. To make public space free and [alive] again I propose temporary intervention making short term use of the plastic possibilities of specific places.
From a swing mounted on custom-made apparatus to an "atmospheric" blue fabric covering a street lamp, some of the proposals seem quite feasible, if not at least smile-inducing. Another humourous idea is the trash bin converted into a fireplace, which Kulve describes:
These widely spread Dutch trash bins have been easily susceptible to fire damage by vandals during events such as new years eve. The straathaard (translation: "street fire") promotes the possibility to use [them] as a heater responsibly.
Beneath the desire to question existing, imposed conditions of urban use and occupation, Kulve also wants to draw attention to the idea of the urban commons, and how we might take responsibility for our public spaces:
It’s my strong belief that in a time of economic hardship and individual isolation we should address ourselves to public space as a collectively owned domain and possible ways to use it to our joint benefit.
These are big questions for making our cities more livable, and from what we can see, there can be plenty of solutions, if we can let ourselves play a little. More over at Thor Ter Kulve's website.