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Open Source Urbanism: Venice Biennale Puts Spotlight On Renegade Redesigners

Exhibit honors yarn bombers, guerrilla gardeners and all manner of DIY civic activists as agents of radical creative disruption.

In recent years, cities all over the world have seen citizens take it upon themselves to paint bike lanes, alter signage, convert unused land and infrastructure, and make other such “contributions” to the landscape. When I first began researching these kinds of informal urban design solutions in 2010, they were largely off the radar and rarely discussed as a singular trend. After an incredibly rapid rise into the public eye, the movement may truly be validated this week with the opening of the exhibition Spontaneous Interventions at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale and an accompanying special issue of Architect magazine.

The International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale is a World’s Fair of architecture and design that has been occurring since 1980. This year the theme of the U.S. Pavilion is Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good, curated by Cathy Lang Ho, Ned Cramer, and David van der Leer, and others. I was proud to join this team as a project research manager and catalog editor.

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This is the 14th and final post in The Back Garden Project, one GOOD community member's effort to turn a neglected corner of the city into a thriving garden.

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This is the 11th post in The Back Garden Project, one GOOD community member's effort to turn a neglected corner of the city into a thriving garden.

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This is the 10th post in The Back Garden Project, one GOOD community member's effort to turn a neglected corner of the city into a thriving garden.

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This is the sixth post in The Back Garden Project, one GOOD community member's effort to turn a neglected corner of the city into a thriving garden.

As I mentioned last time, one of the neatest and simplest little additions I've made to the garden so far has been the creation of a planting box out of what seems to be part of an old Ikea bookshelf that I found back there. Here's how to build your own, in five simple steps.

Step one: Find an old piece of Ikea furniture that someone has carelessly discarded in your back yard (see image at left). Something with three vertical sides and either a bottom or at least bottom support piece is preferable, but you don't need the fourth vertical side of the box.

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