Archives for posts with tag: flexible

This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City.

Note: Over the past few months, I have been doing an internship at the Pop-Up City, along being the mobi-aider for the Mobiation Project. Writing a post about the Mobi-01 for the Pop-Up City (along with the Mobiator’s presentation at the fantastic Pop-Up City Live event) represents a coming together of the extreme sides of my personality. Less of a spectrum, and more of a circle, the Mobiators and the Pop-Up Citizens share  foundational values of ad hoc, flexible urbanism.

Have you seen the Mobiators roaming around Amsterdam? It’s likely you’ve encountered urban nomads before, but you probably quickly shrugged them off as punks, hippies, architecture students or circus performers just doing their thing.

But the Mobiators are a team of DIY urban nomads that defy categorization. Over the past year they have been temporarily setting up their self-built, foldable, completely transportable and undeniably uncategorizable home, the Mobi-01 in playgroundsparks, music festivals and lake-side communities around the city. The Mobiators are working towards having their Mobi-01 off grid by summer’s end, with solar, crank and pedal powered electricity, a grey-water system and a bio-digester to process their waste.

The Mobiators

The Mobi-01 is the first manifestation of the broader Mobiation Project. As the ambitious undertaking of the world’s first Mobiators Geert, a carpenter, welder, designer and tattoo-artist and Moroney, a vegan-cookin’, artist, writer and eco-architect, the Mobiation Project is a reaction — to the broken global economy and the increasing degradation of the environment. Mobiation takes big political questions and brings them into a personal light, asking visitors to consider their engagement with others and the world around them. With creative autonomy, the Mobiators argue that we can “get rid of the bad stuff and maximize the good stuff”, and work toward a more sustainable, inclusive world.

The Mobiators

The Mobi-01 is a living example of a functional off-grid living environment. As an open house, it acts as a podium for education, providing a major source of inspiration to anyone who visits. The Mobi is also a space for hosting organized workshops, and its mere presence in a community has the potential to bring inspiration, motivation and creative-awakening to their neighbours.

And let’s talk about the urban nomadity thing. Is this even possible, in 2013, in Amsterdam? Where is there land to set up and camp out? On first survey, it seems an impossibility: Amsterdam is full to the brim, and every piece of land is accounted for. Ignoring this reality, the Mobiators look at the city in different light, and have successfully found spaces to temporarily inhabit and infiltrate.

The Mobiators

Perhaps we could say that the Mobiator’s city is the Pop-Up City. To the Mobiators, Amsterdam is a purely flexible place, outfitted with temporary urban spaces that invite ad hoc experimentation. The Mobiation Project proves that with a certain attitude, any city can be a Pop-Up City. A shift in perception has the ability transform any mundane space, from the most barren to the most bureaucratic, into a place to be popped into, a place for unexpected transformations, a place where the most creative, sustainable and appropriate activities can take place, emerge and fade away as needed.

The Mobiators

And that’s why we’re excited to be having the Mobiators on stage at The Pop-Up City Live, a night for urban innovators. So join us on Tuesday May 21st at the Brakke Grond in Amsterdam to hear from the Mobiators and be inspired about their project, and the possibilities for sustainable, nomadic city-living in the 21st century, along with an exciting program of crispy themes, multi-media formats, and inspiring guests that will celebrate the best of five years of The Pop-Up City!

Obviously, a city is a complicated place. Any municipal project involves causing inconvenience and aggravating someone. It’s always difficult to establish a park, crosswalk or or pedestrian thoroughfare that satisfies everybody.

Often urban planning conflicts are the result of the relative permanence of city infrastructure. A pedestrian thoroughfare may upset some businesspeople who miss the parking, and congest traffic along parallel routes, but brings delight to it’s users who enjoy the experience of walking on the street (though, studies have shown that pedestrianization is good for business – the attraction of more people outweighs the loss of a few streetside parking spots). Mont Royal Boulevard in Montreal experimented with pedestrianization in the 1970s. The road was great on a sunny weekend afternoons but during weekday afternoons, it wasn’t very busy. On the flip side, the transformation interrupted traffic and bus routes, congesting nearby residential streets so much that Mont Royal was deemed better as it was – a regular car-traffic street.

The solution today seems obvious. Pedestrianize the street on the weekend, and maybe weekday afternoons, but leave it open during weekdays. This seems such a simple, straightforward solution. But the bureaucracy and rigid infrastructure of the city makes this difficult, and it’s easiest to do it one way – or the other.

Flexible city infrastructure could solve this problem. We have the technology now, let’s do it! Traffic lights should turn to stop lights at night in the quiet corners of the city, major commercial streets should have automatic barricades that can go up on nice days, bike paths that become void in the winter should be active if it’s been unseasonably un-snowy. Fortunately they do close down Mont Royal on many weekends during the summer, and these weekends are multiplying so much that in the future, I’m sure it will be every weekend.

Montreal is in fact brilliant with its experiments with pedestrianization. Ste Catherine’s east of Berri to Papineau is completely pedestrianized in the summer. This is a beautiful and successful project, made even better with the ceiling effect created by the purple beads that cover the street for many blocks, transforming the space into truly a laterally extended outdoor room. The flexibility expressed in this project is impressive – in the winter the street returns to its normal thoroughfare status  — though I’m sure it would be just as successful in the winter.