sharjah infocart: mapping the personal history of a city sharjah infocart: mapping the personal history of a city
mar 11, 2011

sharjah infocart: mapping the personal history of a city

artist alexis bhagat and the sharjah infocart in action image © ammar savliwala

in the city of sharjah, united arab emirates, many people do not use maps to navigate. instead, they rely on visual clues, word-of-mouth, and draw upon their own or their community’s past experience to know where to go and what to do. maps are mostly used by tourists and by professionals involved in producing and maintaining the built environment. so the new york based artists alexis bhagat and lize mogel got involved in the ‘sharjah infocart’ project where they asked residents of the region for their assistance in creating a map that is very different from the one made for non-locals. the cart traveled to various public locations throughout the city in january and will be compiled by and for residents of sharjah, adding a layer of personal history and memory over a base map of the city.

in late 2010, the new york duo contacted kevin mitchell to discuss the design of a cart to assist in the collection of data for the mapping project that would exhibited at the sharjah biennial during the spring of 2011. kevin mitchell assembled a team of present and former students from the american university of sharjah including wasib mahmood (team coordinator); enayatollah javad ghaedi; heba helmy hammad; saeid abdolaziz khezri; and naji muneer. mogel and bhagat charged the team with designing a product that would attract attention, be readily identifiable, and facilitate the distribution and collection of data in the form of paper-based surveys.

the sharjah biennial, organized by the sharjah art foundation, has been a highly celebrated cultural event in the united arab emirates since 1993 and has worked to build bridges between artists, art institutions, and organizations locally, regionally, and internationally. the sharjah biennial has enriched the cultural landscape of the persian gulf by commissioning, producing and presenting innovative and challenging art experiences while offering an internationally recognized platform for artists from the region. completed sharjah infocart

the product had to be mobile (to cover shorter distances around the city) and transportable (by a small truck over longer distances). the final design resulted from collaborations between mogel, bhagat and the team via skype and late-night meetings around a laptop, a digital projector, tracing paper and tea. fabrication required early morning meetings in an open-air workshop (and would not have been possible without the skillful intervention of honorary team member farah alqedra).

proof of concept: attracting sharjah residents image © alfredo rubio

going mobile image © ammar savliwala

constructing the writing surface/storage components  

view showing table tilt angle, pen/paper holders, and the relation between tubular structure and the writing surface (rhino model/vray render)

  side view (rhino model/vray render)

initial fabrication drawings

early study of scale, proportions and connections

initial sketch

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. we have already acquired many submissions, so keep on the lookout for more of your projects to be published in the coming days!

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