...a fascination for informality. both in design and generally in my everyday life (as if there is much difference anyway!) as long as I can remember I have been involved with and fascinated by activism, freedom of speech and freedom to act, reclamation of the public space that people feel have slowly started to disappear, random acts of creativity in civic space and the emergence of wierd and different types of environments brought on by all things bad for you like sewage, garbage disposal, fumes and other toxins, big budget commercial builds that have no interest in public interest and meaningful choice but build only for the profit margins and the glory of architectural shallow fame.
last year I finished my masters of landscape architecture at RMIT university here in Melbourne, Australia. my thesis project investigated the meaning of informality in the landscape, more closely, in the urban landscape. it's shapes, forms, acts and characteristics and how it manifests itself as a system, an object, an act, an event or any other type of occurrence that is deemed unexpected, unplanned and surprising. I explored how and if the informal could inform design. it became both about how the informal as an existing phenomenon can inform the way we design and also how the informal as an emerged and unexpected design outcome can inform a design, finally, how I design can inform the level or outcome of informality. I have included the pier project.http://thepier.se invented by fellow Swedes Nils Petter Löfstedt and Erik Westman created a living space under a pier in my hometown Malmo. the urban living room was inaugurated with a party and after this, it could become a space of refuge. this project could easily fall under art/design activism and street art but it is more than that. talking about the mere space that the pier has created, a pier that is purely in state of engineering, built for one function only, has now been reinvented to not only still serve as a pier, it's original purpose but it has been turned into a hybrid, responding to the political and economic issues of contemporary city life. here's a video of the project.
informality manifests itself within each of the ecological, economic, social and cultural facets of the urban landscape that I am interested in. the way that people spontaneously occupy space. the temporary shelters under a railway bridge. the emergent vegetation in a 100 year-old storm water drain, the weathering of materials, the vacant urban lots awaiting planning approval or more funds. the food vendor on the street corner. a washing line between two buildings. pot plants on window sills, a bunch of milk crates nestled together under a tree acting as a seating arrangement for our city's contemporary nomads. the list is long and forever growing and this is why this topic is so very fascinating to me.
there is one massive question on this topic: when does the informal become formal? a mentor of mine once asked the question: can you plan the unexpected? the answers begin to describe what my role as the designer is.
this has been my first entry. it feels good. i'll leave you with a simple request. look up and look around, what informality do you see or even create, is it permanent or is it gone the next time you pass it?