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William Drenttel

The Hypothetical Development Organization


Loiter Center
Hypothetically, the N(ew) O(rleans) Loitering Centre would invite the public to come in, and loiter. Rendering by Mark Clayton

Real-estate development signs on empty buildings do not seem particularly inspiring: dull and disappointing promises of boutiques and condos "coming soon," quietly weathering through a years-long economic slump. But such signage did inspire The Hypothetical Development Organization. Design Observer contributor Rob Walker and Ellen Susan, working with their friend G.K. Darby, decided to appropriate the form and do revise it to more entertaining ends. They identified a bunch of evidently neglected commercial buildings around New Orleans, dreamed up absurd but engaging futures for each, and recruited a talented group of artists and architects to make renderings of, for example, The Loitering Centre, The Museum of the Self, and the Snooze Towers. The results were printed onto genuine 3'X5' Coroplast signs (funded via a Kickstarter campaign) and posted on the buildings. It was an endeavor, as Walker wrote on Places last year, to foster a new form of built-envirnoment storytelling, a public-friendly variation on "architecture fiction" playing out in the real world.

And now the H.D.O. crew reports that the project will be included in Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good, the official U.S. presentation at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale. Full details of Spontaneous Interventions are shaping up, but it promises to be a rather astonishing display, "an archive of compelling, actionable strategies, ranging from urban farms to guerilla bike lanes, temporary architecture to poster campaigns, urban navigation apps to crowdsourced city planning." Given that description, no wonder H.D.O. fits right in... – William Drenttel


Posted in: Architecture, Community, Ideas

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