The Uni: An Education Concept for Public Space

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One new idea for every day in 2011. We're talking big, small, local, international, in action, and on the drawing board. Here's today's -- what's yours?

The Uni wouldn't be very popular in Phoenix during the summer. But give our desert city a few months (and the organizers a few convincing notes) and perhaps the portable, open-air reading room could land in a local public space. 

The Uni is the latest project from Street Lab, a Boston-based organization that aims to temporarily transform and provide programming for public spaces.

The completed unit will include 144 open-faced (and weatherproof) cubes that can be stacked and locked together in different shapes and sizes for site-specific installation. 

Ultimately, Street Lab representatives write, the project will be a "a tool to share books, showcase the act of learning, and improve public space ... If we're serious about having a well-educated society, then we think books and learning should be what is prominent, accessible, and all around us."

​According to the project website, books will be organized in "mini-collections" and curated by local volunteer librarians, university staff members, and topic experts.

Workshops and classes can be hosted by community members; the ultimate goal will be to bring portable, educational programming to accessible and unexpected places around the city. 

"What we see at street level in many urban neighborhoods does not reflect our aspirations for ourselves and our society," reads the projects mission statement on Kickstarter. "In particular, if we want a well-educated society, let's build cities where learning experiences are prominent, accessible, and enjoyable. Let's show off our best teachers, librarians, and educators doing great work, and give them opportunities to adapt their craft to a public setting."

The Uni's currently under construction at MIT and is slated to open in New York City in December 2011. Street Lab is still collecting donations and lightly used books. For more info, check out the Uni and Street Lab websites.

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