I love cities for their vibrant and ever-changing spirit, but this reinvention comes with a price: some part of any city is always under construction. The building sites seem to disconnect communities from their neighborhoods. The feeling of belonging to the neighborhood, the attraction or desire to hang out there, disappears when the streets are dug up. Businesses suffer when the sidewalk in front of their stores can’t be accessed as easily. As much as they can, people avoid going near the site. Instead of feeling victimized by this urban rite of passage, how could communities engage in the happenings behind the construction site fence?
Aimee Mullins asks: Can construction sites be a positive experience for the neighbourhood?
Mademoiselle Maurice answers: Construction sites can be really noisy, generate a lot of dust and profoundly change the landscape of a city. These factors make it hard to imagine any possible improvements to them. But while focusing on the neighborhood and surroundings of a construction site, I began thinking about the fence that usually separates these two worlds.
How could we use the fence in a different way? Couldn’t it be used as a wonderful spot for expression and art? Couldn’t it become more like a museum wall or a big frame on a free artistic place, instead of just an ugly grey fence? I believe it could, and changing the way we look at fences is the first step in this direction.
My participatory, origami folding installation, titled “Take one / Give one”, does just that; it changes the perspective. In this piece, I ask the neighborhood people to take one of my origamis home and replace it with one of their own. This way, the piece constantly changes–like the construction site behind the fence–and will slowly evolve into something that the neighborhood has created together.
Using the fence as a wall that both creates a community and embellishes the neighborhood will change the way we look at construction sites. Beautiful and built with common effort, we might even miss the fences when they are gone, only revealing a new building behind them.