URBAN_Parasol is a modular series of shelter-shade structures assembled from a combination of open-source design 3D-printed joints and ready-made objects.
Multiple scenarios: one dynamic solution.
Ever since humans started flocking to cities and becoming urban-dwellers we have had to deal with two major problems: how to beat the sun and the rain while in transition from one place to another.
The conventional solution has been to carry around a parasol or umbrella and pull it out as needed, but this is an individualized solution that will only solve our personal problems. If we wanted to affect the problem on a larger scale, we could lobby city council and planning groups to approve a plaza or a series of urban canopies/trellises. This, however, would be a lengthy, cumbersome, bureaucratic process, dissuading most people from pursuing the greater good solution.
Wouldn’t it be easier if we could produce our own cheap parasols that we could hang around the city so people can beat the sun and the rain?
Digital design and fabrication has allowed us to envision and erect large-scale urban project for shade structures in sun-drenched cities such as the recently inaugurated Metropol Parasol in Seville. Nonetheless, these urban macro-projects have exposed the flaws of top-down conventional urban planning solutions: their unflinching rigidity does not allow adjustments, no wiggle-room for modification.
The information revolution that started with open access to the internet has allowed for a shift in the way that systems work. Slowly, we have shifted away from top-down, end-all “solutions” to crowd-sourced, open projects that rely on user generated data and creativity to present innovative solutions to everyday problems.
Our proposal consists on improvising shelter-shade spots assembled from a combination of open-source design 3-d printed joints and ready-made objects that may be sourced from throwaways or inexpensive items from local stores.
These shade-shelter spots can also take other uses as they evolve: they may offer a respite from the wind in windy cities, be outfitted with a little more tech gear to help bolster security, be a way of communicating across spots in the city, harvest solar energy if they are outfitted with flexible solar panels. Their possibilities are endless.
Where can this be helpful?
In super sunny cities such as Phoenix [USA], Aswan [Egypt], Seville [Spain], Tucson [USA], Dongola [Sudan], El Paso [USA], Jazan [Saudi Arabia], Bangkok [Thailand], Hong Kong [China], Mexicali [Mexico], Melbourne [Australia], Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia], Athens [Greece], Khartoum [Sudan] and Cairo [Egypt], to name a few places where during the summer months people have died from heatstroke every year.
In very rainy and wet cities like Mobile [USA], Vancouver [Canada], New Orleans [USA], Glasgow [Scotland] Seattle [USA], Rio de Janeiro [Brasil], Kauai [USA], Mexico City [Mexico], San Francisco [USA], London [United Kingdom], La Paz [Bolivia] among others where many a day and [some people’s health] is often ruined by sudden downpours.
Have you ever had to walk around an unknown city and have a sudden gust of wind start blowing disorienting you? That is exactly what happens in windy cities like: Perth [Australia], Chicago [USA], Wellington [New Zealand], San Francisco [USA], Punta Arenas [Chile], Dodge [USA], Ushuaia [Argentina], Trieste [Italy], Baku [Azerbaijan], Honolulu [USA], Winnipeg [Canada] where residents and visitors alike have to often deal with the hassle of the wind.
How will people flock to these spots? How will they know if there is one nearby, or should they start some? Can users request for a spot in their neighborhood? Simple: sun/shade spots can be documented and uploaded into mapping/geo tagging communities such as google maps and foursquare so people can easily locate them from any smartphone or web access.
Initially, we plan on using existing open source communities to document the project: instructables to show how to fabricate the joints and assemble them with other elements, flickr for graphical/photographical documentation of the spaces, google maps and four square, thingiverse to host all models and files for 3d printing, and hosting a simple page on our urban interventions site http://emergentcia.com linking users to all these networks so that early adopters can track progress on all fronts. Eventually, as the project grows, we plan on doing a dedicated platform and smart phone apps that promote and facilitate the projects growth
We are no longer in a time of master planning solutions to big problems where an individual, a single company or government decides for many in a pyramidal scheme. Today’s solutions thrive thanks to collective thought, putting human energy to work on small contributions that go towards an integral solution. User generated and driven interventions by you, and you, and you…
Project by Roberto Gutierrez, Georgina Muñoz Reyes, Julia Cerrud and Aaron Gutierrez