Public creativity crucial for cities, argues Urban Art Projects founder after Ai Weiwei collaboration in New York

Public art sparks conversations, activates communities, creates memories, celebrates different cultures, drives tourism and enables micro and macro economies
– Dan Tobin, founder, Urban Art Projects

One of the design team responsible for realising Ai Weiwei’s huge ‘security fence’

installations across New York has told CLADglobal the popularity of the project demonstrates why cities and developers would be “mad” not to commission creativity.

Dan Tobin, the founder of international creative design and delivery studio Urban Art Projects (UAP), said that boundary-pushing art “sparks conversations, activates communities, creates memories, celebrates different cultures, drives tourism and enables micro and macro economies”.

UAP collaborated with the Chinese artist on Good Fences Make Good Neighbors in New York – which opened in October 2017 and runs until February next year.

Partly backed by a successful crowdfunding campaign, the citywide public art exhibition is inspired by the international migration crisis and includes large-scale sculptures that depict the security fence as a social and artistic symbol.

Over 300 site-specific, freestanding works have been installed, including highly visible ones at the Washington Square Arch in Greenwich Village, the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza at Central Park.

The latter places an abstract, golden cage in a space where it is juxtaposed against one of the most visited urban public parks in the US.

UAP worked with multidisciplinary studio AECOM Tishman, architecture firm FXFOWLE, engineer Thornton Tomasetti and street furniture company JCDecaux to bring Ai’s larger visions to life.

“Delivering such a project in a compressed timeframe and on budget for one of the world’s most influential artists was a daunting task,” said Tobin. “Ai Weiwei and the Public Art Fund, who backed the project, had very high expectations and we also had to take into account the high-profile nature of the sites.

“There were certainly challenges. With teams scattered across three continents – the artist and his team based in Berlin, UAP’s design and project management team in New York and our fabrication team in Shanghai – late night and early morning video conferences were often a daily occurrence.”

He added that while “serious engineering” was required to create the structures and secure installation approvals from the city authorities, the result was worth the effort.

“Ai Weiwei was extremely pleased by how true to his creative intent the built forms are, which is immensely satisfying for us,” he said. “But being on-site post-installation and watching and listening to people as they talked about and explored the works has been the definite highlight for me.”

Despite receiving criticism from some local groups, including the Washington Square Association, for politicising pre-existing architecture and art, Ai’s installations have received critical acclaim and been a hit with the public.

Tobin told CLADglobal he would like to see more encouragement of public art to replicate the success of Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.

“Whether it’s London’s Fourth Plinth, Christo’s Floating Piers on Lake Iseo in Italy, or indeed Ai Weiwei’s work, public commissions do it all,” he said.

UAP are currently collaborating with a number of other artists in the US, including Erwin Redl, who has just created a network of suspended lighted orbs in Madison Square Park, and French duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, who are installing a series of sculptural shade structures in the streets of Miami.

Ai Weiwei  New York  public art  design  UAP  Dan Tobin  Good Fences Make Good Neighbors 
Related stories

Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac-inspired animal sculptures to show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Ai Weiwei's magical and mythological bamboo kites go on display in Paris department store

Ai Weiwei unveils art exhibition at Alcatraz prison

London's Serpentine Gallery opens ESPA-sponsored Pavilion

One of the design team responsible for realising Ai Weiwei’s huge ‘security fence’ installations across New York has told CLADglobal the popularity of the project demonstrates why cities and developers would be “mad” not to commission creativity. Dan Tobin, the founder of international creative design and delivery studio Urban Art Projects (UAP), said that boundary-pushing art “sparks conversations, activates communities, creates memories, celebrates different cultures, drives tourism and enables micro
CLD,VAT,AAC,ARC,DES,PHR
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors by Ai Weiwei launched in New York in October 2017 and runs until February next year
 / Jason Wyche
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6556     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6556     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: Gharieni Group GmbH
We strive for a seamless integration of functional equipment to create an unparalleled and memorable experience for clients.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
The heart of the home is the Brahmastan, which can be used in a variety of ways
"Vastu can be dated back to at least the 6th century and is deeply rooted in the physical and spiritual fabric of Hindu society"

Chris Godfrey of global architecture practice Hirsch Bedner, on bringing a spiritual dimension to residential architecture in India

 Large communal areas such as the living room, kitchen and courtyard bring the family together
"I firmly believe that homes are for children as much as they are for adults"

Alex Michaelis and his partner have seven children. He designed their home to be full of fun

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Architecture and mindfulness: Ben Channon
Ben Channon
"I hope architects gain a genuine understanding of how buildings and spaces affect our mental wellbeing and how their design can be tailored towards making people happier and healthier"

Ben Channon has written Happy by Design, a new book about how architecture affects our mental health. He explains how we can all be happier at home

The Bacots moved to Serenbe in 2014, attracted by the sense of community
"We love being surrounded by people who teach us and make us better. Serenbe has also really enhanced our thinking about the value of nature and being outside on a daily basis"

Eliza Bacot and her husband Benton talk about living at Serenbe with their family

features
"Come to Euphoria Retreat if you’re looking for a full health-boost, you’ll leave feeling completely rejuvenated"

Wellbeing Escapes and Well Home have partnered to bring you this special offer for the Euphoria Retreat in Greece

The slanted wall of the main building allows 150 mile-an-hour winds to glide over it
"We’re not built for constant comfort. When we live in spaces that connect us to our surroundings, we feel better, stronger and happier – and that is the very definition of being well"

Early-onset MS inspired Adria Lake to explore resilience as both a healing modality and an approach to design in the creation of her new home and company headquarters in Colorado

Shafts of light illuminate the house during the day through openings which align with the stars in the night sky.
"It’s important for people to be rooted in place. This is a very special house, with powerful connections to nature"

Jennifier Beningfield has built her dream home in South Africa, using ancient building methods

cladkit product news
Designworks launches new glow-in-the-dark tile collection
The tiles contain light-absorbing luminous pigments so they glow-in-the-dark
Lauren Heath-Jones
High-end tile supplier Designworks has created a range of illuminous mosaic tiles for commercial use. Designed to bring light into ...
Aotta launches sound panels made from hemp husks
The panels are designed to maintain 'healthy spaces' and consist of Hemp husks fashioned into a natural porous membrane that absorbs sound
Lauren Heath-Jones
Russian design studio Aotta has developed a range of eco-friendly, sound-absorbing panels made from the waste products of hemp seeds. ...
Artemide excites with latest lighting collection
Designer Alejandro Aravena created O to 'reconcile the needs of the natural and the urban environment'
Lauren Heath-Jones
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Herzog and de Meuron, Neri & Hu, MAD Architects and Elemental, the firm of Pritzker winner ...
cladkit product news
Bartok Design installs 'transformative' soaking tubs in SpaFusion at Pallazzo Varignana
Bartok Design creates traditional Japanese soaking tubs
Lauren Heath-Jones
Bartok Design, a Japan-based supplier of Ofuro (Japanese bathtubs), has completed a major installation at the newly opened SpaFusion at ...
Dornbracht launches 'next generation' experience shower
Rainmoon is an innovative sensory shower experience designed for use in the home
Dornbracht is taking experience showers to the next level with its multi-sensory Rainmoon concept. “Rainmoon is a culmination of bliss ...
Bright Buildings to create UK's first 'open sky' swimming pool
Bright Buildings will create the retractable roof for the Open Sky pool at Ivybridge Leisure Centre
Lauren Heath-Jones
Leisure operator Fusion Lifestyle has announced that it will invest millions of pounds over the course of the next three ...
cladkit product news
Carlo Ratti's 'wonder wall' robot could become reality with kickstarter campaign
Unveiled at Milan Design Week, as part of Ratti's Living Nature installation, the Scribit is the result of Ratti's ongoing investigation into and development of writing machines
Lauren Heath-Jones
Carlo Ratti Associatti has developed an intelligent robot capable of writing and drawing on vertical surfaces. Called Scribit, the device ...
EAS PREVIEW: Bright Buildings to exhibit BrightOpen designs
Bright Buildings will be showcasing its range of BrightOpen buildings
At this year’s Euro Attractions Show (EAS), design and architecture firm Bright Buildings will be exhibiting its range of BrightOpen ...
Zaha Hadid Design partners with Royal Thai to create carpet collection celebrating Zaha Hadid's legacy
The carpets capture Hadid's notable use of layering and interweaving as well as her use of light and shadow
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with carpet manufacturer Royal Thai to create a new carpet collection inspired by the work ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates