Actions: what you can do with the city



Actions: What You Can Do with the City 

gathers actions that reinvent our daily lives and reoccupy urban space with new uses. We concentrate on walking, playing, recycling, and gardening. Walking means re-establishing social relationships. Gardening, as a new form of production, means caring for the urban ground. Recycling means thinking about our society’s waste. Redefining these actions provides a springboard for imagining our cities along different lines. Playing means taking possession of the physical and social city in creative ways. The goal is finding within these actions the tools for introducing new priorities into society.

These tools come with no instructions. They are born of necessity and are imbued with the ethics and motivation of all those who reinvent and reapply them. These people take a completely different look at the problems of contemporary urban life; they share a certain discomfort in the predefined system. They undermine conventional wisdom but don’t necessarily confront it.

These ideas make no claim to represent a world that could replace the current one. They do not constitute a unified response but offer everybody possible alternatives. If, as Aldo van Eyck observed, “imagination is the prime detector of change,” we cannot help but notice how great a change is in the works.

Actions: What You Can Do With the City is a research project initiated by the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in 2007. It has taken the form of an exhibition – presented at the CCA (Montreal, 2008), the Graham Foundation (Chicago, 2009) and the X Bienal de Arquitetura (São Paulo, 2013) – a publication and a website.


Most cities have scheduled days each month when oversized garbage, like furniture, is picked up in each neighbourhood. Basurama, a collective interested in urban waste, helps residents looking for furniture or appliances to travel to a particular neighbourhood on the correct date and at the right time. Basurama relays the scheduling information and organizes transportation for street shoppers interested in saving money and avoiding waste. Basurama was formed in 2002 at the Madrid School of Architecture. The collective works in Europe, the United States, and South America.

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