PHILLY PAINTING PROJECT

Philadelphia, 2011-2012.

Koolhaas and Urhahn relocated a block from the site and spent eighteen months as committed advocates to direct and execute the project together with a local team. Working with community leaders, they invited a dozen young men and women between the ages of 18 and 30 who lived in the area. Additionally, teams of (ex)prisoners, making their re-entry into society, worked on the project.


The facades of over 50 individual buildings on the avenue were painted after designs by Koolhaas.  All the individual tenants had input in the design for their building. Koolhaas devised a system of weaving bands of colour creating consistency while respecting the desires of the individual building tenants. The colours were chosen after extensive analysis of the palette seen on the streets of Philadelphia. A swatch system was developed by Koolhaas so building owners understood the framework and made their selections accordingly. Colours were then integrated into one building which subsequently lent its colours to the next.



The project provided training and jobs in an area where unemployment and crime is extremely high, especially within the younger population. Wearing sweaters and shirts with the Philly Painting logo, the local painters were identifiable as transformers of their neighbourhood. A local team of filmmakers produced monthly episodes of video updates. Half of the painters went on to work for the MAP.

Design: Jeroen Koolhaas 2012