Passyunk & 8th
With support from Velocity Fund and in collaboration with Vamos Juntos and Fleisher Art Memorial, Alumbra worked with youth from vulnerable backgrounds in South Philadelphia, USA, to transform a vacant lot into a nighttime destination with a light art temporary installation that was collectively designed and fabricated, reinforcing cultural and social identity, public engagement and appropriation of a public space in the context of the COVID pandemic.
Communities need open, pleasant areas where they can feel safe and comfortable. Public spaces play an essential role in the dynamics of a community when they create a sense of place, connect a diversity of people, and help build inclusive neighborhoods. Studies on public spaces during COVID showed there is a big need for open spaces that promote outdoor human activities and community cohesion.
The students imagined the kind of public spaces they need for a healthier and happier community life with a strong component of cultural identity.
They chose to transform an underused lot in a strategic location in a neighborhood with predominantly Latin population.
During the virtual and face-to-face workshops we used light as a tool for expression and transformation.
Youth were able to approach light from a different perspective: not only being functional, but also being able to create atmosphere, transmit messages and express emotions. An interesting introduction to light and the role it plays in our lives.
We used our placemaking approach to reimagine the space and reclaim it as a nighttime destination where a diversity of interests and ideas come together.
Through observation and participatory diagnosis, the young people identified needs and opportunities for the space, collectively designing the intervention.
To create the light installation, a final outdoor fabrication workshop was held between the participants and other people from the community who came out interested in the transformation that was taking place.
The participants built light modules/boxes with translucent materials and colored light bulbs.
Afterwards, they decorated their boxes individually or in pairs, following the themes they chose as a group:
nature and community.