Exchange box


How do we bring our streets to life and create interactions and exchanges between perfect strangers?

« Neighbourhood Exchange Box » is a project which explores reciprocity between neighbours. It brings a new impulse into the neighbourhood and a sense of belonging and involvement to the local community by prompting opportunities of exchange and contact. At the same time, it enables residents to give items they no longer use.

Urban art and social experiment, the boxes are simply deposited and made available to the local community. What will we find? What has been taken? Has the object found a new home? Who’s? Where? What could this new life be? Who will be the next person to stop by?

The exchange box can also be viewed as an exploration into social roles and interactions, which are issued from the action of placing items in the street, without any form of control. When you trust the community and make this installation available, the fact that it’s functioning depends on the people’s involvement, will create some form of appropriation, the population will take ownership, become concerned and treat it with respect.

Nowadays, whilst most of our interactions depend on money, is it still possible to establish a completely disinterested form of exchange, without even knowing who the beneficiary is? Is it possible to extend such a project to the scale of a whole town? That of a region? A country? Further?

This website has been created to establish an overview of the existing boxes and show the wealth of exchanges between perfect strangers. You are invited to share photos of your discoveries and the items you have donated.

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« For several years, on the wall opposite my home, I would deposit books, CDs and other items I no longer needed. Then, I would look down from my balcony. The items, which were taken by passers-by, were mostly appropriated within the first 5 minutes, others within half an hour and the rest over the next few hours. With an Interest in the these objects’ new lives, and the interactions issued from my actions, I decided to place the first official exchange box in my street, in June 2011, in order to encourage the inhabitants of my neighbourhood to experience this form of exchange too. »
Dan Acher

Happy City Lab is was founded by Dan Acher, an artivist from Geneva focused on creating happy cities. How do we generate interaction between strangers? How do we change our perception of our city and neighbourhood, create new meanings and experiences? Dan uses the city as a canvas to create situations and events that generate powerful and participative experiences, engaging people and transforming cities.