Underused public spaces are a maintstay of many US cities. Redeveloping these spaces requires good urban planning, a vision, aesthetics, and in many cases economic resources that many cities do not have. Participatory architecture is a solution and Arcbazar is a platform that can bring these projects to life.
Arcbazar is a start-up company based in Cambridge, MA, that serves as an architectural online platform. In a nutshell the client launches an architectural competition on the web portal and designers around the world submit concepts. At the end, the client gains in affordability, diversity and world talent. Designers, on the other hand, have the opportunity to work with clients on a global space.
We are bringing clients and architects together as never seen before. Any client in the US can now work with an architect from Italy, in the same way that any US architect can work with a client located in Brazil. “There are no barriers to creativity anymore”, says Imdat As, the founder of Arcbazar, he himself an MIT/Harvard trained architect.
Although Arcbazar runs mostly home remodelling, interior design and landscape projects, the platform has also launched several commercial and public competitions. “We really see Arcbazar as an invaluable tool for municipalities”, ads As, “we can tape into the pool of creative architects and offer towns and cities multiple concepts for their vacant or underused spaces. We can help reshape cities in an affordable way. We have completed many of these projects- from small to large scale- very successfully. The municipalities and developers have the opportunity engage their communities in the redevelopments by making the competition publicly voted. The designers are very engaged in public projects and the response is remarkable.
One of the first public projects run by Arcbazar was the Powder House School in Somerville, MA. The city had “been exploring re-use and redevelopment alternatives for the site since the school’s closure in 2003” and looked for “the expertise and creativity of the global design and planning community to bring a shared vision for the site to life”. The competition received 8 proposals and after community input the award went to Michael McKee, a local Cambridge-based architect.
Recently, Arcbazar run a project for a township in Papua New Guinea. This was an extraordinary project for “development on an approximately 41ha land area with industrial, commercial and residential zones on a mountain” the idea was to “turn this area into a self-sustainable township.” It would have been very difficult for developers to find architects to work in such exotic and remote places, but by using Arcbazar the township received 15 concept entries, with the winner architect being in Albania.