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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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