Art in public space can have many forms, from good old statues to performances to graffiti art. Working as an architect in teams that design our public places, I have become interested in integrating artistic approaches into the way public space planning and design teams work. To me, this would mean integrating professional artists into already very multidisciplinary design teams, and seeing, how the artists knowhow of meaning making, identity, and innovative use of materials could benefit the way we build. As I talk about public art, (or "integrated, team based public art" trying to describe my approach), I really don't mean art objects that have been brought into public space, but public space and its structures treated and created as art. I'm interested in what artists and engineers can create together, an how we could make this collaboration a more inviting option for both. 

Artist Martti Aiha was part of the team designing the Jätkänsaari bridge in Helsinki.

Artist Martti Aiha was part of the team designing the Jätkänsaari bridge in Helsinki.

The photo above shows only one example of an ordinary form approached from an artistic angle. There are of course innumerable examples of bridges of most extraordinary forms built around the world all the time, and it's clear that many of them have had an extensive budget allowing the designing of a landmark, rather that just a bridge. Still, great results can be achieved also from the starting point of: less money, more willpower and skill. Even small details can transform an environment, as long as they are designed and executed by a well working team of professionals of each their own fields.

A small part of of an Australian freeway noise wall, designed as part of a larger project. Photo from: LovesFoodAndArt.com

A small part of of an Australian freeway noise wall, designed as part of a larger project. Photo from: LovesFoodAndArt.com

My understanding is, that using artists in design teams to approach ordinary forms in new ways is often more a question of lack of knowledge than lack of money or interest. Luckily, new things are learned even when - and I guess especially when - financial resources are scarce. I think that as the knowledge spreads on how to successfully build and operate urban design teams that include also artists, we will see bridges (and all other urban structures) of tomorrow created in a variety of ways that we have not even dreamed of yet. In short - what an interesting time to work in this field.

cover photo from Martti Aiha's website

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