BetaVille: Citizen Collaboration For Urban Design and Planning
I have been working with the Carl Skelton, Director of the Experimental Media Center of New York University / Polytechnic Institute, in conjunction with the Municipal Art Society of NY, on their Betaville project for collaborative urban design. Betaville is also part of an international partnership led by the Technical University of Bremen, Germany.
In a nutshell:
“Betaville is an open web-based environment for real cities, in which ideas for new works of public art, architecture, urban design, and development can be shared, discussed, tweaked, and brought to maturity in context, and with the kind of broad participation people take for granted in open source software development … If a user-generated TV network is possible (YouTube), why not a user-generated city? How could this not be fundamental to the concept and practice of citizenship?”
Take a look at the video presentation from the recent MAS New York City Summit, entitled “From Science Fiction to Future-Making in Real Communities" – http://youtu.be/c0vzSJucQto
Although we are used to urban planning being dominated by the professionals, this clearly does not guarantee the best results all the time. A case in point was the planning and design for what is now called Central Park in New York City. After an initially disappointing professional design for the new park, the New York City park board ran an open contest in 1860 for a design. From among thirty proposals, they decided that Vaux and Olmstead’s proposal was by far the best – even though Olmstead was not yet considered to be an experienced professional.
In this century, BetaVille can be the platform for a range of contests to envision critical parts of a city. It would enable more people to participate and provide a wider range of ideas for the urban amenities of the future that will be as successful as Central Park turned out to be.
© 2011 Norman Jacknis
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