co-partner of the interdisciplinary office Artgineering based in Rotterdam, together with Aglaée Degros. The office devises and implements design strategies whose effects extend beyond the built boundary. Inspired by the beauty in the banal, their work re-interprets the relation of built environment, landscape and infrastructure.
In various projects Artgineering has addressed the social dimensions of apparently spatial phenomena, always seriously, sometimes playfully. The lecture gives a glimpse on their preoccupations and strategies on how to neighbourize, re-interpret, the bottom-up, informality, identification, banality and public-ness.
The almost famous FILEkit (traffic-jam kit), a little travel bag for passengers containing an assortment of ‘toys’ for action and interaction, brought attention to the unavoidable and depressing problem of traffic jams in our society. The kit relayed the approach to traffic jams from carpooling and bigger roads to making the time spent more interesting. The focus was on interaction with the accidental neighbor driver.
The poster campaign in the Utrecht district Kanaleneiland took the same approach, taking the problem from the other end. After years of political impotence against the growing tensions within the multicultural neighborhood, the only effective solution seemed to be to destroy the monotone postwar houses and rebuild the neighborhood with higher-income housing.
But Artgineering’s solution was of another order. Their poster campaign was aimed at stimulating pride in the neighborhood, an essential element for greater harmony and a less destructive co-habitation - instilling a sense of ‘identification’ that goes beyond one’s own doorstep and develops a sense of co-responsibility for life in the street and discourages excesses.
The N4 project tackles yet another phenomenon. The (former) highway appears as a linear crystallization point for various functions and uses that co-exist at random. It is a bottom-up form of urbanization that Europeans would expect to find in the Middle Western states in the USA, but not in a densely populated country like Belgium (and such a spontaneous development is unthinkable in the strictly regulated Netherlands).
Also here, Artgineering chooses for a mental organization of cohesion and identification instead of the offhanded proposal to reconstruct the oversized road. The office is now distributing the brochure with bumper sticker along the N4.