Work by Forensic Architecture and SITU Research presented as part of UN inquiry into Drone Strikes

Today marks the public launch of a web-based platform created by Forensic Architecture (Goldsmiths, University of London) and SITU Research for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson.

A screenshot of the web-based platform that maps - and collects information and media relevant to - each of the thirty strikes the UN Special Rapporteur has called for further investigation of. © Forensic Architecture in collaboration with SITU Research, 2014.

The website provides an online presence for the Special Rapporteur’s inquiry into civilian casualties by drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza. The report calls for increased government transparency and documentation of drone strikes when civilian casualties are known or suspected.

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The web-based platform focuses on the 30 drone strikes that are included in the Special Rapporteur’s report. The strikes are  geospatially located and are correlated with additional information provided by Emmerson’s report. Forensic Architecture’s work also analyzes several strikes in greater detail by synthesizing multiple sources of data including photographs, interviews, and satellite imagery and the resultant spatial analyses are shown through short videos.

The online platform can be accessed here.

A short demonstration video of the platform can be found here.

The videos and stills detailing the four cases can be viewed here.

Design Lab: Studio Install

While the kids visiting NYSCI have been building dowel structures down in the Sandbox, we’ve been busy installing the tessellated panels and cladding of the next Design Lab workshop – the Studio. The Studio workshop is primarily used for small-scale, hands-on activities, such as DIY electronics and the exploration of urban issues through model-making. One prominent design feature is the “Aggregator” – a space where participants can display and test their creations collectively, learning from one another and building each other’s ideas.

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Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

Design Lab at The New York Hall of Science is a space for tinkering and creative problem-solving for teachers, students, and families. By using simple tools and everyday materials, Design Lab projects invite kids to wrestle with STEM topics through personally motivating problems and to come up with their own creative solutions.

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Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

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Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

In Spring 2014, Design Lab will offer four different hands-on design sessions at the museum that tackle challenges ranging from designing and erecting emergency structures to reusing excess plastic bags. The project “Happy City”, for example, invites students to think about how light and movement could make their city a happier place, and to then apply their ideas by building a happy model city with LEDs and motors. This particular activity lets children examine and confront contemporary urban planning issues.

NYSCI DesignLab Happy City

(photo courtesy of The New York Hall of Science)

To learn more about Design Lab and the four new workshop spaces, visit this page.

Structural engineering by Laufs Engineering Design (LED).

Design Lab: Sandbox Opening

A couple weeks ago we finished installing Sandbox, the first of four new workshop spaces that make up Design Lab at the New York Hall of Science. Now open to the public, Sandbox first opened its gates during the New York Hall of Science’s event ReMake the Holidays.

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The four-day event welcomed families to come in “to bend, twist, light, sculpt and animate a new version of the holiday season” with workshops, demos, artist installations, and more. The open landscape of Sandbox was perfect for the hands-on projects of ReMake the Holiday’s theme of  “Build It,” and on December 28th the Sandbox was filled with kids building dowel structures.

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With some help from their parents and the Maker Space staff, the kids explored building technique and structure by piecing together 3-foot dowels with rubber bands.

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These same components will be utilized in the New York Hall of Science’s “Engineering Day” on February 17th, and will be integral to future programming at the Museum.

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Curious as to what we will be working on next in the Design Lab? Check out the rest of the workshop spaces here.

Structural engineering by Laufs Engineering Design (LED).

All photographs courtesy of Andrew Kelly for New York Hall of Science 

Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art Opening at the American Folk Art Museum

This past Tuesday we celebrated the opening of Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art at the American Folk Art Museum.  The exhibit is open to the general public for free and will be on display from now until April 23rd, 2014.

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An image from the installation "Folk Couture" at the American Folk Museum in New York City designed by Situ Studio.

 Photo by John Muggenborg

Exhibition Design – Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art

For the past few months we have been experimenting with new materials for our exhibition design with the American Folk Art Museum. The exhibition, Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art, showcases original ensembles from thirteen designers inspired by objects from the museum’s permanent collection. The results will be displayed alongside the original folk art objects; exploring the boundless relationship between inspiration and creation.

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Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

We sought to find a flexible material to create a system that could be customized to respond to different objects while providing  tactile and visual continuity to the show. Inspired by the draping of a dress form, we chose to work with concrete impregnated fabric to create a series of custom pedestals specifically crafted for the garment or object it holds.

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Photo by Patrick Mandeville.

The process of constructing the pedestals involved building a series of simple armatures from which the concrete canvas was suspended upside-down and saturated with water.

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Once cured, the result is a series of light-weight, structurally sufficient, modified-catenary forms that appear to float and billow upwards, grounded only by the weight of the objects they support.

Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art will be on display from January 21st- April 23rd, 2014 at the American Folk Art Museum.

The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Drive Change: Snowday Design Reveal Party

On Thursday afternoon we finished installing exterior panels on Drive Change’s first food truck Snowday. This marks the end of the design and fabrication phase for Snowday and the beginning of a new journey on the streets of New York City in the coming year.

Below is a 1-minute timelapse of the final hours of installation.

SITU STUDIO Timelapse Snowday Install from Situ Studio on Vimeo.

In celebration of the finished truck Drive Change hosted a design reveal party at Situ Fabrication in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Hundreds of people showed up to see the finished truck and sample a tasting menu inspired by Snowday’s signature ingredient – New York State maple syrup.

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Inhabitat stopped by to cover the event and describes the design as an “transformation of an old Con-Ed truck with an abstract snowflake design that echoes Snowday’s fun, arctic theme. Recycled materials such as reclaimed cedar and reclaimed Redwood from an old cooling tower were used to create the multi-colored, 3-layer snowflake pattern that wraps the vehicle…” Read the full post here

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Drive Change Truck Reveal Party

Drive Change is scheduled for a soft launch this winter while in the process of securing final permits and passing inspection. In the spring of 2014 Snowday plans on completing the first eight-month transitional program cycle that helps justice-involved youth adapt to life outside of prison.

Keep up with Snowday on social media via #justtrucks and @Snowdaytruck

 

 

Heartwalk moves to Atlantic City

Last week Heartwalk reached its final destination overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the oldest boardwalk in the country (opened in 1870) in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Heartwalk has traveled from its original home in Times Square as the winner of the annual Valentine’s Day Heart Design Competition, to Pearl Street Triangle near the waterfront in DUMBO, to Brooklyn to The Rockways in Queens before finding a permanent home in Atlantic City.

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Heartwalk is installed near New York Ave. on the 4 mile long boardwalk.

After sundown Atlantic City gave Heartwalk a warm welcome at a Dedication Ceremony with glowsticks and candy for visitors of all ages, and a local band playing love songs.

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Heartwalk draws inspiration from the collective experience of Hurricane Sandy and the love that binds the City’s citizens together during trying times. It is built entirely from wooden planks salvaged from New York and New Jersey boardwalks that were severely damaged by Hurricane and creates a space for visitors to gather and reflect on their experiences and possibly even discuss how to be better prepared for the future.

Heartwalk is the first of the Valentine’s Day Heart Design Competition winners to travel to several public spaces and be installed permanently. We are really grateful for everyone who has made Heartwalk and this journey possible.

You can browse and keep up with Heartwalk’s journey online on www.heartwalkac.com, a crowd-sourced Instagram gallery where all photos with the hashtag #Heartwalk and #HeartwalkAC are posted.

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Situ Research: Division and Website Launch

Last week we launched Situ Research, a site dedicated to interdisciplinary design work that addresses urgent contemporary spatial issues. Over the past few years we have collaborated with human rights organizations, scientists, city planners and lawyers on vide range of projects, all collected on our new website

Situ Research associates McKenna Cole and Charles-Antoine Perrault share a few words about their investigations on two current research projects.

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Deforestation patterns, militarization, and urban development in the Ixil territory are strongly correlated. This map illustrates how Guatemalan government’s “Model Village Program” participated in the destruction of Ixil people’s natural environment.

Charles is working on the investigation of a genocide case in Guatemala – A project undertaken in collaboration with Forensic Architecture and Paulo Tavares.  From March 1982 to August 1983, General Efraín Ríos Montt ruled the country with an iron fist during one of the bloodiest periods of its long civil war. Montt is now facing accusations of crime against humanity and genocide against Mayan groups before the National Court of Guatemala. Charles is producing a set of time-based maps and visualizations representing Rios Montt government’s intent to destroy a particular ethnic group. “Leveraging a broad range of evidentiary material (military logs, exhumation data, historical pictures, satellite images…), we reveal intersections between military operations, indiscriminate violence against civilian populations, systematic destruction and relocation of indigenous communities, and transformations in the urban and natural environment.” This work is intended to enter as evidence in Ríos Montt’s trial and will be integrated in a publicly accessible online geospatial platform.

Explore more Situ Research projects on Human Rights issues here

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Image of PLUTO Dataset joined with building footprints translated into a 3d model of the Jackson Heights section of Queens.

McKenna is engaged in the development of the research for Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities a fourteen-month long workshop series culminating in exhibition at MoMA in November 2014. Situ is collaborating on this project with Cohabitation Strategies. Mckenna explains: “We’re reaching out to other practitioners, organizations and non-profits in the process of trying to formulate a clear understanding of the unevenness in New York City as it is physically manifested in disparate housing conditions, access to infrastructure, and policies at large. We’re analyzing and manipulating publicly available datasets to help us understand housing conditions on both a city-wide and neighborhood scale. Mapping and modeling are being used simultaneously in order to visualize the spatial implications of the data being used.”

Learn more about our participation in the first workshop at MoMA PS1 and keep an eye on the blog for updates as we visit Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in mid-December.

Explore past blog posts on Situ Research projects here

Design Lab: Sandbox Install

We’ve been journeying to Queens to begin installing Sandbox, the first of five new workshop spaces in Design Lab at the New York Hall of Science. The plywood cabinet desk with built-in storage is fabricated at our shop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and installed on site, while the museum remains open to visitors.

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Watch this video for a roundup of the design, fabrication and installation process of Sandbox:

To learn more about Design Lab and the four new workshop spaces, visit this page.

Structural engineering by Laufs Engineering Design (LED).

Uneven Growth: Workshop at MoMA PS1

This past week Situ Studio and Situ Research participated in the launch of the MoMA exhibition “Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities.” This past Friday and Saturday marked the first in a series of workshops that will culminate in a publication and an exhibition at MoMA in November 2014. The six teams chosen to participate met for the first time at MoMA PS1 where teams began to collaborate and think through the questions prompted by the exhibition brief. Situ Studio has been pared to work with Cohabitation Strategies on New York City for this exhibtion. The other teams will be working in Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro.

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Gondola transportation system in the favela community “Morro do Alemao” in Rio de Janeiro
Photo Pedro Rivera, RUA Arquitetos

The workshop on Friday began with presentations by a panel of advisors on the topic of the subjects of uneven growth and tactical urbanism including Sasia Sassen, Nader Tehrani, Michael Sorkin, Teddy Cruz, Alfredo Brillembourg, and Mimi Zeiger.  The rest of the day teams worked on compiling presentations of past work as individual firms as well as initial impressions of the prompt and the city in which the work will be done.

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Situ partner, Brad Samuels, presents a map created from 311 complaints to the Department of Buildings reporting  illegal conversions as part of the research on informal housing in New York City.

While the workshop on Friday was closed to the public, the presentations on Saturday were opened up to the public.  Beginning with an introduction by curator Pedro Gadanho, each team presented their past-work and preliminary research.  A panel of respondents including Neil Brenner, Ed Keller, Quilian Riano, and others, reflected on the early proposals.

A second workshop is set for Shenzhen in mid-December. To learn more about this project please visit this MoMA’s website here

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