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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Half Dose #85: The Worms

Festival of Ideas for the New City

"Festival of Ideas for the New City is a major new collaborative initiative in New York involving scores of Downtown organizations working together to harness the power of the creative community to imagine the future city and explore ideas that will shape it. The Festival will include a three-day slate of symposia; an innovative StreetFest along the Bowery; and over eighty independent projects and public events."

The upcoming festival (May 4-8, 2011) has a bevy of highlights -- keynote lectures by Rem Koolhaas, Jaron Lanier, and  Antanas Mockus; panel discussions on the heterogeneous city, the networked city, the reconfigured city, and the sustainable (the last is a mayoral panel) -- and projects related to it, but here I'm focusing on the StreetFest, in particular the competition-winning Tent Design that will punctuate the festival on Saturday the 7th, signaling it as something different than the usual street fair.

Courtesy Family & Playlab. Photo by Dean Kaufman
[Image courtesy Family and Playlab; photo by Dean Kaufman | click image for larger view]

The winning design, announced last month, is "The Worms" by New York City-based designers Family and Playlab. The creatures -- actually "modular accordion forms, skinned in bright, lightweight, waterproof rip-stop nylon" -- will inhabit part of the StreetFest taking place on the Bowery between Houston and Spring Streets. In the image above the pink and blue tents wend their way along the Bowery and into the New Museum, one of the participating organizations.

Courtesy Family & Playlab
[Image courtesy Family and Playlab | click image for larger view]

Yet beyond portals directing people into particular venues, the greatest potential of the modular tents is as containers for the various stalls in the StreetFest, and beyond; DOT plans to use them in future summer street events. So instead of the typical hip-roof tent on four posts, the alternative-themed stalls will be made dynamic by the colored tents in various configurations. As can be seen below, each Worm "can be flat packed and delivered to a site fully assembled before being rolled and locked into position."

Courtesy Family & Playlab
[Image courtesy Family and Playlab]

The below diagram illustrates the various configurations -- bends, flares, curves, bulges, and combinations thereof -- but I'm guessing many more could be created. This means that their implementation in the StreetFest and later fairs is quite open-ended, ultimately suited the needs of the lucky users. The rendering at top may just be a recommended form the Worms will take; the actual installation on May 7th may be something entirely different. No matter, whatever configuration the slithering pink and blue creatures will stand out in the Bowery context.

Courtesy Family & Playlab
[Image courtesy Family and Playlab]


  1. I wonder what it would be like to shop under those colorful tents. Pink and blue match well. However, if this innovation is just one of the ideas for the "future city," then expect more to come!

    Sue Mattson


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