NYC –> Shanghai, 25 days: Reclaimed stumps

August 16th, 2013. 25 days.

Adaptive reuse takes on a whole new meaning…

2013-03-20 19.22.40Last night I went to an event hosted by PPS (Project for Public Spaces) and JUCCCE (the Joint US China Collaboration on Climate and Energy) on co-creating “social spaces” in China. The aims were to discuss how public spaces are used in China as compared to the US, identify the factors that make for engaging spaces and foster connected communities, and develop a model for how best to propagate social spaces in China. One of the key messages delivered by Peggy Liu of JUCCEE was that social spaces could be engines for innovation and creativity. Ethan Kent of PPS also spoke of the lighter, quicker, cheaper approach to creating gathering spaces. I wholeheartedly embrace both concepts. I could elaborate verbally on the reasons why – but in the spirit of speaking to readers hearts as opposed to their heads (another standout point from last night’s event), I figured that this picture could convey my point more effectively. Besides the fact that I smile every time I walk by it, this ingenious reuse of “nature” perfectly encapsulates the, well, nature, of yesterday evening’s convening. It couldn’t be any lighter, quicker or cheaper (not to mention “sustainable”) and it’s certainly a wonderful display of innovation and definitely creativity! And it’s functional – as a gathering space and conversation starter – to boot! The good news for China is that I’ve seen this type of ingenuity on display, particularly in the form of make-shift vehicles. Just apply that same thinking to social spaces and I’m sure it will translate into an amazingly engaging – and unique – public spaces that Chinese will flock to (if not just out of curiosity!). And as far as State of Place goes, I’m particularly excited by its potential to fuel a lighter, quicker, cheaper approach to placemaking and promote engagement using people-powered data!

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