72 Hour Urban Action was a real-time/crunch-time architecture competition that took place in a town near Tel Aviv, Israel as part of the Bat Yam Landscape Urbanism Biennale. The competition was unique among the hundreds of architecture competitions that take place each year: it demonstrated how much could be done to improve public space in an incredibly short amount of time and with a very limited budget.
Ten teams, with a materials budget of 2,000 Euro each, designed and constructed a public space on a given site in three days and three nights. The entire process, from the reception of the design brief to completion on site took only 72 hours. The ten sites were spread out along a run down street that contained significant amounts of light industry, housing blocks and schools and where much of the public space was of negligible quality. The brief for each site varied: one emphasized the need for a sheltered sitting place for the elderly residents of a tower block; another asked for an intervention to create a better entrance to the local neighborhood; and another required a proposal for the use of an empty plot that suffered from a lot of fly tipping. When the final whistle blew, the public spaces looked very different, suddenly having been furnished with the shading necessary to protect people from the sun, with new seating areas and with spaces for children to play. Retrospective building permits are now being submitted for each of the interventions, with the hope that they can become permanent.
The high quality spaces that resulted from the competition raised ambitions amongst both residents and the government of the city about the possibility of making improvements to public space in a short time frame and with a limited budget. The competition showed that urban interventions don’t necessarily need to be done over a decade, or with a budget of millions, in order to make tangible improvements. In situations where the scale of problems can be paralyzing this was a hopeful lesson.
(Below are images from the top three prize winners. More images can be found on the competition’s website.)
This article first appeared on worldchanging.com