Most of you will know this already because you’re already reading Pasta and Vinegar every day (if not you should be). Nicolas Nova’s blog is a must read for any researcher of contemporary urbanism. I’m humbled by the amount of incredibly information that Nicolas gives me every day, evidence of his keen intelligence and … lack of children.
But, anyway… Nicolas recently posted an entry on "Evasion Urbaine," roughly "Urban Escapism," a project by artists Benoit Deseille and Benedetto Bufalino for the Lyon Light Festival. Now although I do wonder how these exotic fish are braving the not-too-warm weather of Lyon, this posting brought to mind how phone booths have virtually vanished from our lives, subject to the rise of the mobile phone. In poorer neighborhoods, they were seen as facilitating drug sales…and no doubt the anonymity of the device is problematic in our era of total surveillance.
Reading this, I realized that it has been years since I’ve seen a phone booth on the streets. As Forgotten NY shows, these little spaces have been disappearing for some time now. Nevertheless, they were deeply transformational, places in which one could become a superhero, early harbingers of the way we now disconnect from the world around us anywhere, anytime everyday, little places of momentary respite from the urban din.
If these little buildings are gone from our lives now, they lead us to ask if architecture is as superfluous as the phone booth or if new analogs to the phone booth will spring up around us in this still-young century?