Pliable streetscapes

By Reina Imagawa

Pliable streetscapes challenges urban design masterplans that prescriptively mold ideals and norms around play in cities. Through mobile, dialogic and small-scale interventions that can change and grow over time, the project encourages the emergence of alternate play. Looking at skateboarders as architects of urban landscapes and conditions, and studying their strategies of experimental DIY play that reshape urban form and function, the goal is to make residual public urban space such as Bajo Puentes (Mexico City, MX) and the Los Angeles river walk (Los Angeles, CA) seem playful and pliable for the people who are passing by.


There are 3 media-related trajectories to the research:

1: Exploring the concept of the skateboard as a spatial instrument, i.e., an object or interface that creates situations and opportunities for people to see and interact with residual public urban space in reinventive ways much like a skater would do.


2: Shooting with the VX camera –– a piece of technology behind the signature fish-eyed aesthetic of skateboarding videos –– and using its countercultural gaze to capture (1) the lifestyle and mentality of skaters/ experts of play, and (2) processes of how play develops and unfolds in urban space.**


3: Celebrating the idea of “skate and destroy” through graphic treatments of urban space, framing “destroy” both as an action with material implications as well as a radical desire that produces impulse for alternate play.


** The VX component of the project is a recipient of the Research Assistant fellowship supported by the Experimental Geography Studio at the University of Oklahoma, through which we collaboratively explore questions around media theory and practice.