NYC: @ap1pel at the The Festival of Ideas in NYC. Lessons for Cape Town?

André-Pierre André-Pierre du Plessis

How can we and should we imagine the future of our city? And more importantly why shouldn’t we celebrate these ideas?

This was the premise of questions posed by New Yorkers this past weekend during the first Festival of Ideas for the New City. Organisations throughout New York City teamed up with the creative industries to imagine a future which contains economic, esthetic and social benefits.

Rem Koolhaas
was in town to kick oFf the festival which played host to a conference on ideas that could sustain a city like New York (and also like Cape Town). Galleries in town came together and opened their doors (and sidewalks) for creative thinking about the city space. Storefront’s roll-down gates have been decorated, a street festival including new forms of living (from a state of the art caravan to modular accordion forms skinned in waterproof nylon) were on display asking for new ways to look at New Yorkers’ concept of housing. New Yorkers were also visually reminded of the amount of waste they make – street performers were covered in wool or pulling rubbish with them whilst a host of NGOs asked signatures for petitions from an attempt to stop fracking (it will soon engulf the New York state too) to asking individuals to save flower seeds.

Some ideas that came about for this new idillic city are just as relevant to Cape Town as it might be to New York:

  • Consider public transit options beyond road and rail (What happens after MyCITI?)

  • Use public space to share ideas and start a conversation (How do we get people talking visiting Green Point Park?)

  • Use natural systems to support the city’s infrastructure (One odd illustration was used at the festival of a boy powering up a sewing machine with his bike)
  • Make fire hydrants the anchors of temporary mini-parks (Maybe not viable in Cape Town in the way New Yorkers illustrated it – by having pop-up water fountains next to hybrants)

(For more ideas see

Images of the Festival