Thursday, December 15, 2011

design intervention: doing it right

[Santa Marta community, Rio de Janeiro, image from Favela Painting]

I love the colorful buildings of artistic team Haas & Hann's projects. The duo's favela project, originally conceived in Brazil, pays local youth to paint buildings vivid shades. I love that the project is "not about cosmetically 'camouflaging' an area, but rather rejuvenating deprived areas of a city and creating a positive social effect on the general district at hand." I was first introduced to the pair's work on Apartment Therapy when in an article titled "Should New York Go Neon?" The proposed images of New York were thrilling to me, but the article and the idea struck me as misguided. The proposal of an unsolicited "intervention" in lower Manhattan from a pair of designers from outside the United States lacked the community input I think is necessary for a project to be truly uplifting instead of just aesthetically pleasing. And while they certainty are pleasing to me, many may find the colors an eyesore especially without community consultation and buy-in.

[Proposed NYC project, image from Apartment Therapy]

Tonight I took the time to look at the Favela Painting website in more depth. There were things that heartened me, such as the education in painting skills and safety the local youth received, which can serve as job training. Additionally, "inside of the sambaschool was painted in [the area's] traditional colors"

While of course there are many other improvements that could be made to those communities (either in Brazil or New York,) even small physical appearance changes can have a very positive affect. The Favela Project was started in 2006 in Brazil where the Dutch team works and lives, and the New York proposal was more of a creative design exercise than true proposal. I would hope a team that has had such successful projects in the past understand the important of community in the design process should such a project actually move forward. What works in one community does not translate to all communities, especially if the similarity in the communities is largely on of economic status or political power instead of culture and identity. I encourage Haas & Haan to continue the painting project in Brazil if it as welcome in the community as my google-ing suggests but to think deeper about ways to bring the same joy to other cities.

What do you think are best practices for community-based design?

[Painters at work in Rio, image from Favela Painting]

1 comment:

Eli said...

I like the idea of it being a community thing! as well as an art thing. New York is boring, everything is red bricks!