Category Archives: Artists

Artists we admire who adaptively reuse.

Magic carpet ride

A few months ago when we did a post on the Cambodian norry railway we searched high and low for similar DIY railways but all we found were high tech/high capital experimental projects. But we had something like this in the back of our minds,

and because it seemed such a good idea we knew someone would have done it already, somewhere. Well, here it is (via Cory Doctorow and BoingBoing), the Tapis Volant, part of the Train project by HeHe (artists Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen)

Seen above in Istiklal, Istanbul in 2005, they describe the mechanics of its magic.

Tapis Volant appears as a rectangular red cushion with beaded tassels dangling down from each of its sides. It runs along a single tram track, using it as a monorail, its wheels propelled by an electric motor. The cushion lies on top of a mechanical system that allows the driver to balance when seated in the Lotus position. This posture not only mimics the operation of a ‘real’ flying carpet, but also links body posture to movement in a way that driver has to be Zen to operate

We were interested to find that the underlying impulse for the project was a conscious understanding of adaptive reuse:

The TRAIN project shares the fascination for a personalised automated travel experience, however, its inspiration did not derive from a system of vehicles, but from the idea of using an existing architecture, The Petite Ceinture (The little belt) in Paris. The Petite Ceinture is a magic site: an industrial monument, a rail track that encompasses the city of Paris, abandoned in 1934 due to the extension of the metro lines towards the Paris suburbs.

As well as the Istanbul and Paris version (here seen near Basilique St Denis)

they have produced variations for events in Slovakia,

Valenciennes,

and a surfing version for San Jose.

The artists describe themselves as follows:

HeHe reverse cultural engineers the technological systems that surround us: From transport design to pollution monitoring, from public advertisement to meteorology, from architecture to public lightning. Their work seeks to go back in time, re-work past and as a result, re-phrase the existing into a new critical usage, a social function, with the spectator in its epicentre. At a time of ongoing technological expansion, progress starts to fray on its edges. How can we use and re-use, not only as a semiotic resistance against those who prey on the new, but also to return back to original invention, which have become clouded by recursive innovations. In this way, the work of HeHe is a process of reduction and subtraction until they find a point of departure, from which they can develop a usage with a plain functionality.

Translating the slightly clumsy artspeak, we think that means they are on about exactly the same thing as us, a back-to-fundamentals approach to adaptively reusing heritage and technology to bring about cultural change. Its always comforting to find a few more out there.

Going batty


The world was does not belong only to humans, notwithstanding the deluded ravings of right wing religious extremists.


We share it with a still unknown number of other species and most of them can be pretty awe inspiring once you get to know them better.


What better way to spend your life than trying to make the world better for them rather than worse as we have for the last few thousands of years? (Photos:JJ Kaczanow/Bat Conservation Trust). The Bat House project by 2004 Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller sets out to do exactly that.


Although not an adaptive reuse project in the strictest sense of the word, it is an attempt to adapt the environs of the city of London to make it a more bat friendly place.

Jeremy Deller and the Bat House Project Partners are pleased to invite you to join a collaborative initiative to imagine and design a home for bats in London.

The Project highlights the potential for architects, builders, home-owners and conservationists to work together to produce wildlife-friendly building design. It connects the worlds of art and ecology to encourage public engagement with ecology issues. The Project builds on the Mayor of London’s policies to raise awareness of urban biodiversity and to support the survival of London’s ten bat species.

Each month there is a challenge and the first, ending on January 15, 2007, asks What is it like being a bat in London?

Imagine you’re a bat in London. Where do you hang out? What do you see, feel, hear, eat, need? What attracts you? What gets in your way? Use any medium you like to communicate your idea .

Like Natalie Jeremijenko’s rooftop for pigeons, this is another example of art that gets our stamp of approval.