Urbanism, Graffiti, and the Design of a Public Spray Booth for New Haven
As an architect and designer, my expertise is in producing objects that respond to recognized needs. I'm going to walk you through one such project that I did in 2010.
As part of an urban design studio, I was assigned to analyze the architectural communication in New Haven's Ninth Square. Our aim was to identify problematic patterns of urban signage and communication, and then to design a small-scale intervention that could help reshape these conditions.
Phase 1: Analysis
Working with a partner, I focused on a particular downtown bus stop site as a location that combined the conflicting forces of private commerce, municipal infrastructure, historic architecture, and urban graffiti. We took especial notice of an exposed insulation wall which had been adopted by taggers as a blank canvas. As a record of the site, we made replicas of the graffiti panels we found.
Phase 2: Response and Construction
Inspired by these observations and by the existing wall of styrofoam, we designed a bus stop/spray booth that could produce and display foam graffiti panels while preventing damage to adjacent property. The assignment dictated that it be portable and collapsible, so we designed it out of perpendicular panels that interlocked like puzzle pieces. In order to hold the foam "canvases," we covered the device's surface in a regular grid of square pegs. To ensure the pieces fit precisely we used a CNC wire cutter to cut the foam and made a 4' jig to position the grid of surface pegs.
Phase 3: Installation
This all culminated in an installation of the device on the site, during which passersby got to "tag" the device and display their work on the panels.