Wednesday, October 23, 2013

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The University City District has been leading the way in redefining and repurposing Philadelphia public spaces. Almost anywhere you go in University City, or out along Baltimore Avenue their presence is visible. Whether it’s their safety folks that patrol the area on bikes and in cars, or their various landscaping projects in conjunction with UC Green, or a lighting project at 46th & Market in Walnut Hill, UCD is brightening the neighborhood. At a WXPN Free at Noon concert this summer at The Porch, UCD’s largest and most visible repurposing of public space, UCD released its first glimpse of its social seats.

Over the past year, UCD held a design contest that invited participants to develop a design scheme that changed the notion of standard social seating at parks. The goal was to somehow connect people in a smart, spontaneous and aesthetically beautiful way without forcing it. For example, Andropogon landscape architects envisioned unfurlable blankets and different drapes and shapes laid out throughout the space. They were colorful, angular, modular, and made of sustainable materials. The Social Seat winner, however, was a seat called LoopedIn designed by Interface Studio Architects. It was constructed by EnMotion Design.

Initially, LoopedIn was installed at The Porch, but has since moved to Clark Park. Over the next several month, the social seats will move around to several other locations in West Philly, giving folks all over the neighborhood a chance to check ‘em out.

–Lou Mancinelli