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Actions: What You Can Do With the City

edited by Giovanna Borasi and Mirko Zardini

Published by SUN Architecture and CCA, Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2008 | ISBN 978 90 8506 7

also available in French

The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) presents Actions: What You Can Do With the City, an exhibition of 99 actions that investigate how the design and experience of contemporary cities can be described and informed by four key human actions: gardening, recycling, playing, walking. These seemingly common activities are pushed beyond their usual definition, featuring in the exibition international contemporary architectural projects, design concepts, and research conveyed through a range of materials including architectural drawings, photographs, videos, publications, artefacts, and websites.
The 99 distinct actions presented include projects related to the production of food and urban agriculture; the planning and creation of public spaces to strengthen community interactions; the recycling of abandoned buildings for new purposes; the appropriation of urban sites into terrain for play, such as soccer, climbing, skateboarding, or parkour; the alternate use of roads for walking or rail lines as park space; the design of clothing to circumvent urban barriers against loitering or resting on benches; and many others.

Actions: What You Can Do With the City is accompanied by a book of the same title, which presents original research and writing that further examines the exhibition’s exploration. International in scope, the 30 essays are published for the first time and include personal observations by a range of activists alongside scholarly reflections on the positive impact these individual initiatives have on the city. The texts are interspersed with 34 specific actions drawn from the exhibition. Introductory essays by the editors Mirko Zardini and Giovanna Borasi provide historical perspective and establish the curatorial framework for the exhibition and publication.

After the Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA) in Montréal (Canada), from 26 November 2008 to 19 April 2009, the exhibition Actions: What You Can Do With the City travels to the Graham Foundation in Chicago (US) and is on show from 16 October 2009 to 13 March 2010.
The exhibition is accompanied by the website, which presents a toolkit to inspire actions in the city. This databank of individual actions featured in the exhibition can be sorted and browsed in multiple ways (including by the type of tool employed in the action or the curatorial organisation of the exhibition). The website features photographs and video resources, and challenges users to respond by posting their own thoughts or initiatives on how to improve the city through individual action.





A new Urban Takeover 
M. Zardini 

City 2.0
G. Borasi 

The Pedestrian as Urban Actor 
S. Lavadinho 
The Materiality of Parkour 
Z. Laughlin 
La Belle Epoque: Love and YouTube in Parkour City 
D. K. Thomson 

From Public Nuisance to Instrument of Revitalization: Skateboarding in the Built Environment 
O. Howell 

Walking as Politics 
T. Hatuka

Guerrilla Gardeners and Public Space Professionals: Between Conflict and Co-operation 
R. Reynolds 

Architecture after the Front Lawn 
F. Haeg 
Integrating Urban Agricolture with the Slum Upgrading Process 
V. Bhatt
A New Detroit on the Urban Prairie 
B. M. Brogan and G. J. Grella

Thoughts Potential in Mumbai’s Post-Industrial Waste Landscape 
J. Tiranishti, E. Gjoklaj
A View from Tokyo: Recycling the Built Environment
Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijlma
Habiter les Squelettes: Urban Pragmatism, Architectural Recycling, and New Collective Futures
Coloco (Nicolas Bonnenfant, Miguel Georgieff and Pablo Georgieff)

A New Kind of Scavenging: The Nuevo Rumbo Co-operative in Buenos Aires
Jochen Becker and Alejandra Lòpez 
The South Bronx: A Neighbourhood Reclaimed
Omar Freilla
Garbage Here, Recycling There: Used-up Materials across North American Borders
Sarah Hill

Dumpster Diving: Foraging with Freegans
Emily Reuhala
Toronto's Foodscape: From Food Deserts to an Edible Landscape 
Nina-Marie Lister
Roadkill Recipe
Fergus the Forager

The Edible City: Urban Agriculture in Adolescence
Debra Solomon and Hans Ibelings
City Trees and Urban Health 
Thomas Leo Ogren
Everything is Continuous: The Continuous Productive Urban Landscape 
Loam for Civic Creativity
Dan Hill

Works Cited

Giovanna Borasi is CCA Curator of Contemporary Architecture since 2005. She curated the exhibitions Some Ideas on Living in London and Tokyo by Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa (2008); 1973: Sorry, Out of Gas (with Mirko Zardini, 2007); and Environment: Approaches for Tomorrow on the work of Gilles Clément and Philippe Rahm (2006). Before joining the CCA, she collaborated on several exhibitions with Mirko Zardini including Asphalt, The Character of Cities at the Milan Triennale (2003). Borasi was an editor and writer for Lotus International and Navigator. She served as Assistant Editor for the book series Quaderni di Lotus, and was a member of the editorial staff of Lettera, the graphic design supplement to Abitare
Mirko Zardini is the Director and Chief Curator of the CCA since 2005. At the CCA, he curated the exhibitions 1973: Sorry, Out of Gas (with Giovanna Borasi, 2007), Sense of the City (2005), Out of the Box: Price, Rossi, Stirling + Matta-Clark (2004), and has initiated a series of exhibitions developed with universities including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, and Columbia University. He has taught at prestigious architectural schools, including the Swiss Federal Polytechnic University in Zurich and Lausanne, Harvard University, and Princeton University, and is a former editor of Casabella magazine and Lotus International.