Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reading the Narratives In Between Spaces

DIY Urbanism: A Definition
The intentional and artful layering of physical, colorful objects on existing urban infrastructure. The goal, to demarcate a specific space as a significant place, to invite consciousness to the place and its surrounding context; to entice onlookers to peel away the visual and colorful layers of texture in order to reveal and interpret the story rooting that place in the urban environment.

Site: "In Memory of Robby"

Intersection of University Way (The Ave) and Campus Parkway

Time of observations:
January 10th, 2012, 9:00am

Surrounding context of site:
Two major roads University Way and Campus Parkway. Heavy amounts of cars, buses, university students, pedestrians, bicyclists; all navigating these roads and intersection at a fast speed.

Objects and materials used in site area
-crosses with hand written notes and messages
-origami cranes
-bicycle regalia
-beer cans
-Jimmy John sandwich bags

The story:
September 10th, 2011, Robert Storm Townsend, a beloved and vibrant bicyclist, worker at Jimmy John's Sandwich Shop and member of the local bike community was hit by an oncoming car in this intersection. Five months ago, his friends and members of the local bike community erected this memorial in his honor. By pure luck when documenting this site, we met Alex, a dear friend of Robby. Alex (seen in the last photo of the slideshow) visits this site and memorial everyday, to bring Robby breakfast. “The most important meal of the day,” shares Alex, he brings a donut for himself and for Robby and sits by the memorial looking into the traffic, reflecting on his dear friend. Alex and his friends plan to keep adding to Robby’s memorial with flowers and by adding permanent lockers and storage space with tools so that people can come to this place to remember Robby.

Robby’s memorial is a moving example of DIY urbanism by the local bike community that illustrates how the stories in a place are preserved and brought to life through objects and their form. From a distance, the memorial is easily noticeable through the large objects and colors layered on top of each other, but when you look closely, you can see the details that tell this particular story.

By: Malda Takieddine and Angelica Rockquemore

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