About a year ago the Hypothetical Development Organization set out to tell a different form of urban storytelling. While walking through Savannah one of the organizers noticed a sign that others have probably seen a hundred, if not a thousand times when walking around a city. But this one person actually thought about the sign’s meaning. It was a rendering of a future development, which led to a few questions: how long has the sign been there and what does it depict – a hypothetical future or a fictitious one?
As you’ve figured out by now this organization looks through city neighborhoods and commercial districts for interesting abandoned or disused buildings to find out their stories, both past and future. Much like a child making a home out of a cardboard box, the HDO is playing with the pretensions of museums and urban renewal, but also focusing on what’s important and not the commerciality, practicality or engineering of their structures. The group creates unrealistic renderings based on the buildings, then prints signs similar to those used by real developers.
By March of this year the HDO had presented ten stories to the New Orleans public, specifically at the Du Mois Gallery. And what better place to have it, then a city like New Orleans, with a lot of neglected real estate? In cities and towns across America people are walking by a random building right this moment without a second thought. Whether empty or fully occupied, these structures have a history and story to tell. The HDO remind us of these often overlooked places and by engaging in a new kind of urban storytelling people in a community might be inspired to do something.