This post is part of a series dedicated to the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale. In addition to on-the-ground reports, we're featuring firms and projects showcased in the U.S. pavilion’s exhibition, Spontaneous Interventions.
Passing through Baltimore, Maryland, by train, one remarkable feature of the city stands out: the difference in urban forms between its successful Inner Harbor district and the struggling neighborhoods marked by abandoned housing and empty streets. Baltimore has lost 300,000 thousand residents since its population high around the mid-twentieth century, according to the video above, but a lot of creativity has come out of this decline, including the films of John Waters and the music of Animal Collective and Future Islands, among others. Now, an ambitious new voice in the field of urbanism is working in the city: Graham Coreil-Allen.
Coreil-Allen guides tours through the marginal zones of Baltimore, mixing humor with serious analysis of urban ills and proposals for their alleviation; these tours often take on notes of psychogeography and Situationism. The tours, grouped under the title New Public Sites, were selected for inclusion in the American Pavilion’s exhibition, Spontaneous Interventions.
In the video above, produced by the Institute for Urban Design, Coreil-Allen outlines his proposals for making vacant and marginal lands in Baltimore into new public spaces. The video is part of an installation by filmmaker Kelly Loudenberg, who asked various participants in Spontaneous Interventions to discuss their aspirations and concerns for the American city while pretending they were running for office or advising elected officials.
A picture of Coreil-Allen in action, from New Public Sites