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Designing for Free Speech, NYC

International Open Competition 2014
Client: Teatrum Mundi + AIA New York
Team: Marko&Placemakers + Milota Sidorova

Theatrum Mundi, in partnership with the AIA New York, ran a ‘Designing for Free Speech’ challenge cantered around designing spaces in New York City that stimulate the rights enshrined in the First Amendment.

Our proposal 'Free Speech on the Go' uses as its medium the ubiquitous yellow taxicab and the public transport network – spaces cherished and shared by millions of New Yorkers every day, where “the community of human destinies is experienced in the anonymity of non-place, and in solitude” (Marc Augé).

We would like to exploit these ‘non-places’ of transit where one usually escapes into the inner world of one’s thoughts or simply ‘switches off’, in order to create moments of exchange and sharing of opinions and concerns on diverse topics. We believe that “freedom of speech” applies universally to all public spaces. The ambition of our intervention is to gradually “occupy” public spaces of New York through a migratory auditorium that will transmit “free speech” throughout the city.

The first sequence of our intervention will kick off a gradual re-discovery of hidden and forgotten public spaces giving a “voice” to places such as Tomkins Square Park on the edge of gentrifying East Village, the only open plaza on Martin Luther King x Adam Clayton Boulevard in a vibrant African-American Harlem, and a Jewish-Mexican neighborhood park (42nd St x 10th Ave) deep in Brooklyn, as well as giving a new dimension to already popular places like Union Square or Washington Square.

Exploiting mobility and communication beyond the digitally networked city, we will share voices from the edges of society to the center and vice versa creating a unique intertwining of personal stories of New Yorkers.