Meditation in Concrete II
Phat Le & Benjamin de Boer : participants
Grab-a-Slice gallery : where
01.17.2020, 6-9pm : opening reception
01.25.2020, 2-4pm : panel with Cara Chellew
01.14-27.2020 : runs
Hostile architecture is a design strategy that opposes the comfortable use of public amenities. Interaction seating, ledges, and awnings is managed not through disciplinary institutions but through diffuse elements of control. This control is accomplished with intentionally uncomfortable design features. Under a program of "crime prevention and protection of property" (Chellew, 2019) hostile architecture targets vulnerable groups that rely on public amenities the most. Spikes, bars, uneven platforms, or lack of adequate space seek to deter convenient and comfortable occupation, discouraging positive self-identification and the possibility of place-making.
If we are to learn anything from hostile architecture, it is that most city planning engages with space as static. This rigidity suggests planning engages in the construction of a certain type of space that can be considered good by ensuring particular forms of engagement. However, anyone who occupies public space knows that space is relational and emerges through interactions. Space is a mediator not a container, connecting users and those holding power over its production. Eventually meaning appears and harmonises as place.
For this exhibition, Phat Le and Benjamin de Boer reflect on the possibility of hospitality in urban space by performing interventions on hostile architecture by using concrete to level uneven surfaces and cover spikes. Performing activity can transform acceptable behaviour and help form place. Spaces such as walkways, ledges, parkettes, and plazas that are impacted by hostile architecture are perfect areas for engaging in intervention. They bring conscious attention to the groups occupying these spaces, as well as the programs set against occupation. Phat and Benjamin will engage in the active modification of hostile architecture with concrete in order to reduce discomfort. Performative actions change the perception of the programs set in place, and the programs themselves, as behavioural rules are modified through public participation. This loose playful construction of informal programming promotes self-identification.
These interventions will be left in public space. Traces of these interventions will be displayed within the gallery. These traces will take the form of straight photographic documentation and material restaging of the concrete modifications.
Chellew, Cara (2019). "Defending Suburbia: Exploring the use of defensive urban design outside of the city centre". Canadian Journal of Urban Research.