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New York, NY

Competition Entry - 2013

This project is a competition entry for StreetFest 2013.  The competition was to design and build temporary structures for a three day street festival on the Bowery in New York City.  The theme for the competition was to explore Untapped Capital as an idea toward using underutilized resources as part of a new way of thinking about and creating architecture. 

Our concept of untapped capital is based on everyone’s innate creative potential and how society fails to nourish this resource.  This is a critical issue because of the ever increasing complexity of the problems facing society including: global warming, health care, and a broken financial industry.  To overcome such problems we will need creative solutions, which means we need a culture that is structured to foster creativity.

The foundation of this idea was inspired by the educator Ken Robinson, who said, “We don’t grow into creativity, we are educated out of it.”  As children, we all have an innate sense of wonder and imagination.  As we enter the educational system, rife with standardized tests, we find our innate creativity suppressed and under appreciated. How many children, who wanted to be painters, poets, or dancers, were told they won’t make any money doing those things so they shouldn’t try?  They were told to be lawyers, doctors, or accountants, as examples of respectable professions. The fact is, our education system was created in the 1800’s to prepare our children for jobs in an industrial society. The arts are given the lowest priority in favor of studies that are deemed more useful in the workforce.  Not only does this deprive us of future artists, but it is a system that under develops the creative talents of our future doctors, lawyers, accountants, and all other professions. 

What we are taught to respect is the idea of making money, which is the cornerstone of our capitalist society.  There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with profit, but when it is the overriding motive it represses creative potential.  The reason being, to create something new is often a messy process with numerous failed attempts along the way.  But failure is stigmatized in our business culture the same way it is stigmatized in our education system.  Fear of being wrong scares people from trying to be creative.  Right now the system that educates us and the system in which we all work is repressing our potential to find new ways to solve society’s problems.

With Imaginarium, we are striving to evoke the sense of childhood wonder, imagination, and creativity that we all exuded when we were young. Imaginarium is a re-interpretation of our memories of building couch cushion forts, which were the sets of many adventures, and a box of legos, which became what ever we could imagine.  We hope this playful interpretation will re-awaken some of the creative potential of visitors to StreetFest and be part of the larger conversation about the place of creativity in our education system and culture.

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