Saturday, May 27, 2006

Urban Beach_description

Urban Beach

An urban beach, or urbeach, is a place in the downtown core of a city that has a water feature that people can use to cool off on hot days. However, unlike a waterpark where people go specifically to splash around, an urban beach is a multi-use space, where informal waterplay activities intermix with more formal civic culture, such as business executives reading their newspapers, etc. An urban beach is a playful place in the inner city where people can wear beach attire and splash around without being in violation of the laws and standards of appropriateness that otherwise exist within the formal downtown setting.

"Beach Within Reach" (No commitment or time-barrier to use)

Urbeaches are surfaced in specially textured and easy-to-clean granite, crumb rubber, or other materials that provide a clean grit-free and grime-free alternative to beach sand. Therefore they can be used for short periods of time, without needing to clean oneself afterwards. Thus urban beaches can be enjoyed spontaneously for a few minutes, unlike oceans, lakes, pools and waterparks that usually involve planning a day trip. For example, a trip to an urban beach might be as short as a minute or two when people run through the sprinklers to cool off, and then head out to do something else.

Urban beaches provide an urban oasis that is part of a city's "concrete jungle". They make great places to relax and contemplate, or just to read the newspaper while taking a break from work. Ideally they are located within walking distance of the workplace, so users can spend their lunch hour there to enjoy a break from the city. Typically water features also create white noise that masks the sounds of traffic, thereby transforming the space into a virtual beach resort. While reading a novel at an urban beach, one will quickly forget that one is in the heart of the city. The soothing combination of sun and water, punctuated by the shrieks and laughter of children playing in the water, temporarily transforms the mind into the same state as it is in when one is on vacation at an expensive beach resort in the Bahamas.

Urbeaches are characterized by nearness and the facilitation of spontaneous visits, in which patrons may not have remembered to pack their swimsuits. Thus dark colored fast-dry shorts, together with a dress shirt (a shirt with a collar), and dress shoes, provide transformability. For beaching, one simply has to take off his shirt and shoes.

Washing away the walls between work and play

Traditionally, in a formal city setting, there has been an implicit separation of work and play. One would never see monkey bars or sandboxes in the city center next to a clock tower or office building. But times are changing and many people no longer make a distinction between work and leisure. Urban professionals and urban passionates become one in the same, as more and more people make their hobby their work. Designers, architects, and engineers are among the growing numbers of people who are starting to live in a world of "when your hobby means business".

With this cultural shift also came a new genre of architecture in which a business man can read stock quotes alongside children frolicking in a fountain. Gone are the days when city fountains were off limits for reasons of "city image" (notwithstanding the old reasons for keeping kids out of fountains, i.e. "safety" which was often just a reason on paper, wherein the real reason was concern that too much fun in the city would ruin the image seriousness). Today, most people accept the mixing of business and pleasure.

Thus urban beaches erode the barriers erected between business and leisure.

Waterplay at Work

An urban beach is an urban oasis designed to enable waterplay as one of its various usages. Not limited to waterplay, an urban beach is multi-purpose.

Urbeaches have spray features such as fine mist, which are designed to be moderate enough for young children to play in. Other urban beaches have more vigorous splash fountains designed for older children and adults, e.g. for joggers or concert goers to cool off in. The splash fountain in Toronto's city center,
Dundas Square, features 600 spray nozzles that shoot water straight up through stainless steel grilles set right in the middle of the main walkway. The nozzles rise and fall in unison, like the waves on a beach, so there are times when the water level is low enough for children to also play in the water. The heights of all the fountains rise and fall in unison, in a sinusoidally time varying manner, so that users can wait for the fountains to reach a desired height before passing through them. The sinusoidal surf, together with a gentle whistling sound of all 600 nozzles running together, creates a wonderful beach-like ambiance.

The
Dundas Square fountains are maintained to a high quality of cleanliness ("pool water or better" standards, according to the maintainers of the facility) because, unlike most city center fountains, these were designed for waterplay, in addition to their excellent architectural beauty and effect (soothing city noise-masking). Special non-slip granite slabs were installed to ensure the safety of children and adults alike who splash in the water.

Economic case for urban beaches

Urbeaches stimulate economic development by retaining people in the city's downtown area. While urban beaches will never replace a trip to the Bahamas, they give rise to a vibrant family oriented lifestyle in a city that might otherwise be deserted or overrun by dollar discount shops, pawnbrokers, and drug dealers, or be a deserted city on weekends and evenings.

Critics of urban beaches are quick to point out that the children that play in the fountains have no money. But the children bring their parents in tow, and also grandparents, and for many families in which both parents work, the urban beach is close enough to the workplace to enable a family picnic to be possible every day of the week. Thus parents can enjoy a day of shopping and then stop off to play with their children at the urban beach.

Urbeach night life


Some urban beaches such as
Dundas Square have no fences around them and operate 24 hours a day. On hot summer nights they infuse the city with beach culture. Whereas during the day, it is mostly children, joggers, and concertgoers who play in the water, while adults sit around the periphery, reading their newspapers. During the evenings, after a few drinks at a nearby pub or cafe, it is not uncommon for middle-aged business executives to let go of their inhibitions, and to into the fountains with their children. At other times, the one or two brave grownups who do run through the sprinkers are cheered on by hundreds of onlookers who are still too inhibited to play in the water.

Temporary urban beaches and art installations

A well known art gallery, PS1, had an art installation in the summer of 2002, to explore issues of privacy and space, through the juxtaposition of the incongruous elements of beachlike waterplay space within the formality of a museum/gallery:

...Urban Beach addresses concepts of surface and sensuality, redefining shade, privacy, and space

One of the busiest streets in downtown Paris was also turned into a temporary urban beach.

On a busy downtown Toronto Street, a hot tub was recently setup right next to the sidewalk. Part of the fun is challenging people to overcome their fear of being seen in a bathing suit, on a busy street in the restaurant district where people are normally wearing more formal attire. To further suggest public bathing as performance art, participants (many of them passers by who could choose to join in the fun) were fitted with brainwave electrodes, which enabled their brainwaves to generate music and control the lighting. A number of urban beach art installations were made as a form of social inquiry into the boundaries that exist between public and private space. This helped to combine fear of water, fear of electricity, fear of being seen in a bathing suit, and stage fright, into chance to dare passers by to join in a thrilling spectacle. Stage lighting, controlled by the brainwaves, adds to the notion of urban bathing as performance art.

Private urban beaches

Further west on Dundas Street there is another urban beach located on the roof of the Deconism Gallery/Museum/Arts Complex at 330 Dundas Street West. This facility, powered by wind and solar energy, was designed as a dual purpose: for cooling the building, and for waterplay (to cool the occupants). A rooftop urban beach is known as a blue roof. Water runoff from the urban beach is captured by a green roof (rooftop garden oasis). The green roof also helps to cool the roof in the summer, and to make an ecological roof design.

The 330 Dundas Street urban beach is listed as a finalist in the Coram international design competition, and will be presented at the competition in Amsterdam in October of 2004.

List of urban beaches available for public use
·
New York's urban beach with sunbathing and waterplay areas, as well as a wading pool in the courtyard of the Contemporary Art Center
· Jamison Square:
On a busy summer day, Jamison Square in Portland's Pearl District draws people of all ages from all parts of the city.
·
Dundas Square, located at Yonge and Dundas streets in the heart of downtown Toronto
·
Proposed urban beach at Harbourfront to include motion-activated waterplay fountains
·
Temporary urban beach constructed right in the middle of the busiest street in the city of Paris, with sprinklers, and a swimming pool set up to provide a bathing area in the street
· Franklin Park (in or near Chicago) Millennium Exhibit: An open space between two opposite walls that spray water at random, was designed as an architectural sculpture, and has become a favorite play area.
· Martin Place in Sydney, this includes mist sprayers, water feature and an area frequently used for skating but is not a 'full' urban beach.


Retrieved from "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_beach"
I'm in ...
Welcome Team D_