Design: Urban Movement Design / Sarah Gluck, Robyne Kassen, Simone Zbudil Bonatti
Collaborators: Anna Maria Zandara, Andrea Ribechini, Daniele Ludovisi, Marta Veltri, Azzurra Galanti, Vincenzo Gagliardi, Daniele Lampis, Emanuela Magnani, Eduardo Marques, Michael Caton, Ilana Judah, Kerim Eken, Ezra Ardolino, Annah Kassen
Location: Rome, Italy
Urban Movement Design‘s outdoor installation UNIRE/UNITE, was the winning project for the temporary outdoor installation at the 2012 edition of the Young Architects Program at the MAXXI.
The UNIRE/UNITE installation is a long bench on a slope of green lawn. This elongated bench connects different heights along the western side of the museum’s square. The bench is composed of diverse wood sections, constantly changing its form, in exchange for offering different surfaces in which to sit or lie down.
Urban Movement Design on the installation:
We are in pivotal times. Any blind eye we may have turned in the past is being brought back to the crises we see and feel all around us. Whether it is the financial, education, healthcare or ecological systems, we are being forced to scrutinize and rethink them. There is a new world waiting to be born, but only through the power of change and labor pain can it be birthed. Over the past century we have moved away from the remoteness that was once our earth and we have moved into a global and interconnected planet. Why then are we living as though we are separate from one another, from our earth, our home, and from the common good? We need to reconsider our lives through this new global lens of connection, interconnection and unity. All of nature acts according to the law of interconnectedness, but humankind has moved away from this natural law and into an unnatural state of self-interest and isolation. We are now being handed the opportunity for change.
Our design solutions look to answer the questions found through the three part lens of Accessibility, Mobility and Sustainability. Trained in both architecture and movement therapies, we treat each design problem as though it is a sick body in need of healing. Not according to any set rule but only according to the particular trauma or need that the body displays at any given time. The project UNIRE/UNITE attempts to bring balance to our mutual common body and to breathe joy into our lives.
The site of our built installation, the Infinity System, is located at the top of the MAXXI site, a stepped area with stairs sitting between the ramp and the steps, whereby leaving this beautiful area uninhabited by those in wheelchairs and others with physical impairments. UNIRE means we are all connected, as though individual cells in one body, all with the need for the common goal of integration and well-being for the health of the entire organism. We have created a low level slope in place of steps in order to make the area fully accessible and inclusive to all. We have then carved out a pathway, with a soft ground of recycled rubber, easy on the body and easily maneuverable for a wheelchair, walker, stroller or walking stick. Off the main pathway are easy transfer entrances onto the Infinity, a continuous single surface double infinity which holds all users on one surface, as mother earth holds all of humanity in its arms.
The Infinity system, designed for healthy movement and relaxation, offers varying positions and exercises for the body to take form in while activating, strengthening, cleansing and balancing the body’s systems for increased health and mind-body connection. The Infinity offers both passive and active movement for the body as it inhabits the system, gliding along the surface from one position to the next, whereby balancing the autonomic nervous system and increasing blood flow to those often immobilized by the design and lack of interaction encouraged by our built environments.
What does humanity need in order for it to sustain itself? We have to begin to see ourselves as inextricably linked to the earth. We cannot afford to view our planet as having an endless supply of resources. In order to be sustainable in this new global world, we must now open our minds and hearts to feel and view ourselves as a global world, but feel as though we are a small village, each of us interconnected with the other and with nature. We are reminded of this by the ground graphic which reads ‘UNIRE/UNITE’ covering the main piazza, and unreadable from eye level, but only from above, from within the second floor gallery of the museum can the words and its intention be read in full. This reads as a reminder to us that we must rise above our smallness, and enter into the place of oneness and connection, where we as a whole, connected and in balance with nature, will find peace and balance for all of humanity.