Can you tell me about the Urbanauts’ units project?
The Urbanauts’ Units began inside RAUM, a laboratory that promotes placemaking projects for a new expansion area in the city of Utrecht. Where the creation of a cultural centre was foreseen by the urban plan, Berlijnplein was temporarily left empty, in which RAUM offers artist residences in order for them to imagine the city of the future and share these visions, mediated by art, architecture and of design, with the inhabitants.
Our proposal makes use of a narrative device as the beginning of a new urban narrative: the “Urbanauts”, pioneers of the uncharted lands undergoing urbanisation, are called to redefine through their routes a new circulation system, which reinterprets urban mobility as a recreational experience. In several projects we have used the theme of the boat, “the greatest reserve of the imagination” as Foucault said: boats are instruments of exploration of unknown lands, an ideal space for travel and adventure. Following the metaphor, we built a structure on several levels (the port, or headquarters of the urban people) that functions as a sort of shipyard: inside, a large social table with the features of a sailboat under construction and a boat on wheels with which to explore the surroundings.
The latter becomes a mobile interaction device, which navigates the Berlijnplein area by stimulating unexpected encounters and promoting new forms of conviviality. In the meantime, the city is growing around our installation, stratifying its meaning through new uses and integrating the structure into the new urban image: urban users are transforming themselves into a new community.