Monday, November 26, 2007

the narrative.

The Social Firm.
the catalyst to the city of your

What is the character of the city? What are the atoms that can betray and portray its particles? The pieces that make it work. The sugar, the spice, the everything not so nice keeping it in turmoil. Walter Benjamin had said that the world was always at war with itself, in one way or another. Is the interjections for city defining qualities tension/fear/apprehension/unity? Can cities exist with out the inter-cellular push and pull? The effervescent aqua bubble demanding its space and existence through the liquid to only expire itself at the top? What is the rule set more favorable for it's survival, ultimately, the geosimulation of the urban phenomena? What writes the rule set for that area? What factors are the points of perspiration? How and what are they for Jerusalem?

What is Jerusalem? Fellini told us Roma. Wim Wenders told us Berlin, and even Tokyo and Paris. Jerusalem is more than place of scattered churches, mosques, and synagogues. What do we think of this place? Is it still something from The Greatest Story Ever Told? How does it define itself? Hiding behind history? What we have is the layers composited, compressed, and exposed. Walked from 300 to 2000 years ago. What is the identity of the city? A place competing for airtime with Brittney Spears on CNN? The place young Jewish American suburbanites go to get trashed and make out with others on their birthright journey? Is it one of the most walkable cities? A city with clean air because most of the roads can hardly hold two cars? Do the women then have great calves and arms from walking up hills in heels while carrying their guns?

We can't say these things just yet, as it is the people who live there to define the area. Granted that definition must be communicated with the general populous, extending to the geopolitical landscapes and Google/Wikipedia processing eyes and finger tips.
Which brings us back to the Social Firm.

What is the story of the Social Firm, another sediment on the city of layers? Introduced earlier, we are looking at the ideas of these basic icons of injectable program pieces to the city, a sort of urban acupuncture. To develop these icons, we have assigned them their most obvious character from Shakespeare's plays. To extract and abstract that further, we made collages to start to tell the visual story. Now is the time to add the text. Our next step forthcoming is the specifics, the Graphic Standards of each of these icons.

the communicators
The interface exists independently as a web page, free to all those with access to internet. For the population that is lacking an internet connection/computer or internet interaction device, other characters have been introduced. (note, find the Ed Keller.)

the button

The button, the Greek chorus, this perverted piece of street furniture not only can point you to the closest hair dresser in a 5min walking radius but gives access to the Social Firm Interface allowing those who spend the time to start to plug and play with the icons. A walker by can answer questions of feelings, of how secure the area, even intersection feels. Depending on the accumulative answer, more or less surveillance will be employed. This is the voice to the masses of the city. This is the translator and distiller of ideas expressed on the interface, the voice to the interactive audience.

the projector

The peeping tom, Polonius, hiding behind the curtain he is mistaken for Claudius and stabbed and killed by Hamlet while trying to over hear and protect Queen Gertrude. Projections of aspects/hopes/desires of the Social Firm Interface can spread throughout the city. Initially planned as a wall event, this can be used as informational terrorism if so wished. People walking buy have the opportunity to be exposed to ideas/art/pornography that they might not subject themselves to in a typical context. The tourist will have the Jerusalem that its inhabitants projected on its walls versus one that religious figures/cartographers/tour guides impose on them.

the magazine

The town crier is the mobile unite of the Social Firm Interface (SFI). Passed out and translated as most museum tour pamphlets are. They can keep moving and be collected. They can be absorbed and discussed in closed quarters as to promote safety. To contribute to the magazines, one will need access to the SFI via computer or button.

the interactions with the walls
Our original mindset was "the wall, the wall, attack the wall." The wall was the gateway, the wall was the glory hole, the wall was the connection of physical and digital, the wall was the scar. The following actions had a later appearance in the time line as the wall is still integral to the safety of the city dwellers. When the wall does start to become more as a scar, thees interventions can find their reality.

the hole in the wall
As the hopeless romantic,the Ophelia, with its undying, unrequited love, the hole in the wall exposes views while leaving the barrier still up. It calls for hope, it even can be the passage so subtle and direct. The chivalrous body that lays its coat over the puddle of barbed wire for those it projects its love affair on. It is the glory hole. The risk, the chance, the attempts of loving an Object of Desire only falsely engaging saliva and semen with a drywall or concrete plane.

the checkpoint

Two faced with its own agenda much like the priest from Romeo and Juliet, the checkpoint is fierce. It is Cerberus minus a head. The guard, the giver. There is a hole and only the privileged and those close to the priest can fine their "poison", their paper to get through the gate way.

the wall house
The shrew, Kate, takes time and persuading turn from her cold ways and by the end of the play has a monologue on how women should obey their husbands. The wall house takes this brazen, hostile environment and makes it one of growth, place for possible family inhabitance. The wall become absorbed into the new structure that barnacles and emerges itself from it.

the bridge

Stretching and contorting itself to new limits, the bridge goes to bypass the shards of violence that the wall inherits. This lover, be it Romeo or Juliet, can be any crazy kid in love,willing to do anything to make their romance a possibility. Through the love and unity, balance is possible. Through their actions of love, others can find each other, either on the other side of the wall or above, on the bridge.

the tunnels

The nurse is the Juliet's confidant, going to and from with messages and new from her beloved. This is also a point of communication. People travel underneath and may not be able to see who is coming but can hear and receive. It is undermining the system previously inlaid, like the nurse to the Montagues and the Capulets.

Jerusalem is a tight city with a very good bus system. People tend to walk and most of the places they need to be, especially on the Israeli side. On the western side, things are clustered tighter but have farther spaces in between.

the free bicycles
The merchant brings and takes, moving the goods to and fro. Not nearly as villainous as Antonio, this merchant, free bike system, hope to move people about the city.

large scale civic projects
As people can vote and decide on the interface what they would like to the areas, with more vote larger scale projects can be introduced. These are public venues open up for interactions, striving for the cosmopolitan nature of the markets that exist already in the city. The city can not escape its embedded histories but can start to add a new layer of existence. The Israeli side has a lot of activity, lots of theaters. "Israelis like to go out." Bars, clubs, museums are everywhere. The Arab areas are not so conducive to those approaches of the city. It is the slight introductions by the people to bring forth their desires/dreams.

the stadium
The courtesan brings people together. She is the playing field, she is the spectacle. People, regardless of self identity, cheer for their teams. This is a controlled battle field. This is where comradely can form.

the museum
The Ghost, King Hamlet, is out of his own time and period. He is out of his initial existence. Much like other objects and environment captured inside, museums are the keepers of the ghosts. There are museums everywhere in Jerusalem due to the history of the city. When will there be a museum for future technologies, even though, as soon as they are not in use, they become ghosts once again.

the beach
This maverick has a strong mentality and introduces systems not completely intellectual. The beach in the city is a juxtaposition of out of place environments. It does not have to occur at the edge condition as beaches are found in Barcelona and Los Angeles. This interjection can lead to new interactions.

small scale civic projects
These projects have a shorter process time and quicker harvest. They take less votes off the SFI and could be independent projects that people what to peruse. These are more neighborhood based and tying people together.

the garden
The servant bows and gives as the garden. The garden grows and prosper with the peoples desire to take care of it, prune it, feed it. It can feed those around and provided opportunity of community.

the robot park
The drunk butler is a fun, fresh twist to the old idea. It is serving the people but can do much more. With the incorporation of technologies, the landscape and opportunities for social interaction have new stops at the salad bar. Technology tends to be a hard, colder landscape for people to understand and adapt. Softening it as Apple does and introducing play like Tamagutchis, the robot park leads towards the unknown future.

the skate park
The pirate of the landscape. The skate park takes over the land, the very thing that is object for contention. It becomes everyones land as it steals it from its "inherited" owners. No one really owns the land. They just inhabit it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

how to build a better jerusalem...

This was our mid-semester presentation.
We have been chugging away and have been a little tardy in posting this but since our new progress is ideal for this situation, it is time we caught up.

As architects/students, we are exposed to the influx of competitions that have occurred in the recent past. Typical answers and program elements tend to come out of these sort of idea adventures. Put an urban beach, an urban garden there, theater here, free bicycles there.
Sometimes these are appropriate and placed in the most cohesive area.

On site research and exposure help to lead to pinpoint where and how these designs evolve and exist. Bjork and myself currently do not have the means to travel to Jerusalem to formulate a bias. With that in mind, we have set out to create the infrastructure that the people of Jerusalem can use to start to implement elements that they need and want in their parts of town.

The Competition

The Just Jerusalem Competition seeks to inspire and enable the production of visionary ideas for the city, in the form of competition entries submitted from around the world. The goal is to generate new ideas and discussions about Jerusalem as it might be in the future—a just city shared in peace by all residents, whether they be Muslims, Christians or Jews, Palestinians or Israelis. It seeks visions of Jerusalem that transcend nationalist discourses and instead focus on questions of daily life and the “right to the city.”

The City: Jerusalem

The Green Line and the Old City

The fight is about land. So lets look beyond the physical and incorporate the digital.

Israel and West Bank

Proposed and Existing Boundaries

Israeli Settlements

Palestinian Settlements

Existing Check Points

The Players

A wall recently has been the means of establishing a safer city. Political and religious agendas still divide the city. A new participant needs to be added to this contortion of desires.

Our plan is to introduce a new agent to the city: THE SOCIAL FIRM

The city has new parts and partners. Originally, we saw the wall as a scare on the city. At our Mid semester crit, we were informed that the wall was not so much a cut through the city that led to a scar, but a effective barrier that cut down significantly the amount of bombings.

The Wall

Israeli West Bank barrier is a separation barrier being constructed by Israel consisting of a network of fences with vehicle-barrier trenches surrounded by an on average 60 meters wide exclusion area (90%) and up to 8 meters high concrete walls (10%).


Demographics separate people by religion versus just economic status or educational accomplishment. In the city of Jerusalem, 65.6% are Jewish, 3.2% are Christian and/or other, and 42.3% are Muslim.

The Social Firm

The Social Firm is the infrastructure/interface for people to start to shape Jerusalem to the city they want it to be.

Into the Social Firm is access or contact information to political agents, a Rolodex professionals and the services they provide, and a collection bank of the collective needs of the people of Jerusalem. From there, hosted intelligent ( anonymous if wished ) debates about the needs and their possibility of realization.
The physical output will be infrastructural changes and future competitions as needs and technology grow and change. The virtual output are increased awareness and projections of infrastructural forecasts.

The Characters

The button is the main icon and instrument for collecting data through out the city. It is the vernacular interaction to the interface, allowing the interface to be accessible by all.

At the bulletin board, people can post ideas and needs anonymously and physically.

The checkpoint is an interjection into the wall. This is a waiting space, a scanning space.

All of the Pieces

These are just some examples of the programatic elements that can be deployed through out the city.

Potential Locations

The Face of the Interface

The interface is an interactive simulation where the people of Jerusalem can start to formulate their own version of the city. Through their needs and desires expressed in open discussion and voting pulls offered by the social firm, new projects and competitions will arise.

As projects accumulate, there will be a gallery of where different elements have been implemented and the progress of them.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Let's get physical and (virtual)

The plan of attack: 1. Turn a destructive element, the dividing wall, into something constructive. A wall for posting, a place for transparency,anonymity, and connection. The mechanism= SOCIAL FIRM 2.Establish a connection between the physical and virtual world. Start to scar the city with points of urban acupuncture. Use the wall as building materials that diffuse and morph potentially to housing and unpredictable futures. 3. Use this connection as a port/hole for necessary communication. (Verbal is physical) 4. People start have oppertunity to own and control Social Firm with earned "peace points." 5. Branding and Selling of the wall. Wall gives forth to new economy and new connections throughout the city.

From here (NOW 2007), there are many possibilities for each reaction to the proposed stimuli. Let's say that it takes 10years or less for the city to engulf the stimulus with scar tissue, creating an instant organic memorial/landmark. The next stimulus spawns off of that, and the next off of that and so on. We are not proposing to have the answer of what these steps might be at this point. But we have sketched out a potential phasing plan:

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Hello My Name Is:

To give some brief:

Bjork Christensen and I have joined forces to work on the Just Jerusalem Competition. This is is part of their Jerusalem 2050 Project, an unique visionary and problem-solving project jointly by MIT's Department of Urban Studies & Planning and the Center for International Studies.

Jerusalem is not all that it seams. We call it Jerusalem but it is also
known as Al Quds. Claimed by two nations and central to three religions, this is a place of diversity and peace in which contending ideas and citizenries could co-exist in benign, yet creative, ways. Gould this be a more global city?

Possibly. But to not be totally idealistic and ahead of ourselves, we must first think of what new actions are taken now.