Urban planners learn a lot from the modifications citizens make on public spaces, whether that’s creating “goat trails” where there aren’t proper sidewalks or hacking infrastructure. These modifications tell urban planners how cities need to be adapted in order to grow.
Urban hacking is one of the most direct ways we have of shaping our city into what we want it to be, and these hacks often lead to permanent solutions. Urban hacks range from taking over disused public squares and installing seating for seniors to bringing humor and fun to everyday scenes.
What urban hacking does is turn public space and urban landscape into a huge playground where people can express their creativity and better their city. Here are 15 inexpensive and cool city hacks to be aware of!
Florian Riviére is a French artist and activist that has come up with many different city hacks. His project “Don’t Play, Play” encourages people to stay in the parking lot of shopping centers instead of going inside.
For this purpose, parking spots are modified with white tape to turn them into courts for sports such as tennis, hockey, basketball, etc., using shopping carts as nets or structural supports.
Light poles can easily become the backrest for seats with “Wanderest”, from designer Nichola Trudgen. This leaning stool can be easily attached to any octagonal or circular light pole and they’re installed in retirement areas where there’s no public seating available.
Info pillars can be found in Toronto and they often show advertisements instead of actually useful information for people who are exploring the city on foot.
They also block important sections of the sidewalk, making it difficult for pedestrians. That’s why the creative team known as cARTographyTO hacked 35 of these info pillars and replaced the ads with maps, sculptures, art, and chalkboards.
This got the public’s attention, of course, and it encouraged them to reconsider the use of these info pillars.
In Bratislava, Slovakia, the width of the tram tracks match perfectly with the width of a standard European pallet.
When this pallet is modified with parts to keep it in place, it becomes a sort of skateboard that zooms across the city with minimum effort, guided by a map of the city.
This project from Slovakian artist Tomas Moravec is meant to serve as a new transport vehicle that changes spatial perspective of users and the life of the city as well.
In France, designer Damien Gires takes octagonal cardboard boxes and places them in anti-parking posts on sidewalks, turning them into mini tables for adjacent cafes.
This project is known as Urban Terrasse, and it’s meant to make sidewalks more functional and to encourage cafe patrons to get more involved with their city environments because it shows them it’s in their best interest.