Urban designers, Denise-Scott Brown and Margaret Crawford, researched the clash of modernity and media with what was considered everyday urbanity — from farmers markets within old Hollywood theaters to the chaotic yet adaptive street signs of late 70s Vegas. Quotidian events that happen in urban public spaces occur through some type of tacit knowledge- when streetscape citizens transform ordinary and mundane spaces through productivity and provocative uses. Crawford identified these everyday urban events through food vendors, impromptu yard sales, selling of clothing goods on curbsides and chain-link fences and bilingual workshops teaching about bike safety. (Crawford,p.30 )
These unique typologies make urban navigation complex because they were created from heterogeneous conditions: 20th century post-urban sprawl, influx- immigration to cities and a gradual proliferation of wide use digital media in urban conditions. Denise Scott Brown, along with Robert Venturi and Steve Inzenour, analyzed the 1970’s Las Vegas strip in order to critique symbolism in architecture. Their work revealed the main boulevard of the strip to be a “semi-public infrastructure of open space“(Brown,Venturi,Inzenour pp.20-25 ) that created nodes from the negative courtyard space of the casinos. In these weird,baroque spaces reside massive,contextual billboard signage that represented theme of each casino. A considered eyesore in comparison to modern architecture , this early Vegas scenario of sign (media) to public space (streets) questioned boundaries of architectural communication.
Everyday occurrences and modern urban intervention can work to facilitate the other — instead of clashing with one another. Cellphone towers, wi-fi signals, traffic sensors, meticulous telephone wires with small cameras and orange graffiti arrows on pavements are examples of how streetscape facilitates forms of media and technology . These street components originate from an infrastructural city whose sprawl made it a complex system of political structures both socioeconomic and technologically based. Their peculiar forms are results of finessing media with city codes that determine what is allowed to be built in public streets.
What began as a thesis for the Grad Media Program @ Art Center, is now a private agency advocating for everyday occurrences to utilize an ‘immaterial media’ that exists on sidewalks and empty lots. These regulated public spaces are governed by city codes that use time as form of restriction and permit (i.e parking meters and open time for parks). Soft Publics is geared to develop a streetscape condition, as identifed by Crawford , where “blurring boundaries of public domain and private space” in Los Angeles creates a model for media to integrate with physical space progression: “a multiplicity of simultaneous public activities in Los Angeles that are continually redefining both ‘public’ and ‘space’ through lived experience. In vacant lots, sidewalks, parks and parking lots, these activities are restructuring urban space, opening new political arenas, and producing new form of insurgent citizenship.” (Crawford, pp.23-24 )
I. Chase, John, Margaret Crawford, and John Kaliski. Everyday Urbanism. New York: Monacelli, 2008. Print.
II. Venturi, Robert, Brown Denise Scott, and Steven Izenour. Learning from Las Vegas. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1972. Print.
1. Developed by Margaret Crawford, John Kalsiki and John Chase, Everyday Urbanism thrives on using urban design to respond to daily routines of a city done by urban citizens while understanding the established codes and rules that govern city spaces.
2. In her lecture to Metropolis Magazine in September 2011, Brown stated that in 1965 she recognized a Mannerist architecture heavily influenced from Pop-Art was predominant in main boulevard of cities. Her tour of US southwestern cities led her to Las Vegas where it blossomed the most. Brown, Denise S. “Learning from Denise and Bob Venturi.” Metropolis Magazine. Metropolis, Sept. 2011. Web. 17 Jan. 2012. <http://www.metropolismag.com/html/vsba/index_c.html>.
3. See Varnelis, Kazys. The Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies in Los Angeles. Barcelona: Actar, 2008. Print.