Keeping the fun in Fun Urbanism

Not ADA-compliant, but fun.

Fun, as a design tool in urbanism, is increasingly used to make people proud and cautious of their environment says Pop Up City in a post on a “waterbed” pavement by artist collective Raum in Bourges, France. The undulating pavement, in turn, “questions the hardness of the city and its ability to change.”

Oh dear, that really takes the fun out of it. Fun, as a urban design tool, invites people to play instead of doing things the usual way, often fostering human interactions, too.  Usually low-cost, private “interventions” to get our attention: Stairs or slide?  Stairs or escalator?  Swings or bench?  Fun side effects might include more physical activity, more conversations, more reasons to play in the city.  Play helps spark innovation, too, for other creative problem solving, but first let’s play without the pseudo philosophy.


Tidying up maps – a different sort of urban fun

Magritte, tidied

I got the book Tidying Up Art awhile back and it may be my favorite art book of all time because you can actually learn a great deal about art while laughing your head off.  Now, Krulwich wonders on his “science-y blog” about city maps which have been tidied up by Armelle Caron (Krulwich also wondered about Ursus Wehrli’s extreme tidying displayed in Tidying Up Art) and this is an interesting glance at urban form, but not nearly so funny as what happens to Roy Lichtenstein.

Going to the dogs


I have two dogs: Sasha and Laika.  They’re big dogs, so they need exercise and we spend quite a lot of time walking around town.

When Jay Walljasper spoke to an NDDC gathering several years ago, he noted that if the city was good for dogs, it was likely to be pretty good for people, too.   Dogs may be an indicator species for designing urban spaces and here’s another piece suggesting what a  dog’s eye view of urban planning might require.  Unfortunately, there is also a downside for trees in dog-dense neighborhoods.

And just because I like stories about dogs and the many ways dogs and humans learn to adapt to each other…it seems dogs can learn how to commute via subway in Moscow and London.





Mooning the street

Henrietta surveys the street

I have a couple of particular pet peeves in planning trends and one of the strongest is how, in the last 25 years or so, houses turned their backs on the streets and parks.  Yes, we have forgotten which are the private parts of buildings and moon the street.

I live in a part of town predating the great turnaround. My back yard (which does not abut a street) is where I take the dog out while I am still wearing my pajamas.  My front yard is where I sit on the steps (after I have put on my real clothes), say hello to the neighbors and watch people slow down to look at Henrietta the giant chicken (or the bright blue, red, yellow and green trim).



Fronts, Backs, and Everything In Between

Fun Urbanism

Good dog!

There’s New Urbanism and Tactical Urbanism, but I’m trying to promote Fun Urbanism.  I love cities, especially big cities, because there are unexpected places or events which help multitudes of strangers play together.

What better place to help people play than the London Underground?  Millions travel by Tube – why not make it fun?   With elephants.  And art.