The project explored the fragility of the densely populated neighbourhoods that surround the alleyways, called hutongs, which are constantly threatened with demolition to make way for high-rise development.
"We wanted to create a representation of the hutongs using an urban planning language," Stefano Avesani from Instant Hutong told Dezeen at the exhibition where the project was displayed.
The panels appeared to change colour when tilted, rotated or walked past, and some of the blocks disappeared when viewed at certain angles.
While the colours did not act as a key to the maps, they served as a reminder of how lively the neighbourhoods are.
Instant Hutong have been mapping the old areas of the city since 2006, and have completed a range of related projects that include sewing maps onto fabric and hanging them from washing lines across streets.
The figure-ground drawings have also been printed onto wrapping paper and pizza boxes, which were displayed alongside the panels at the exhibition.
The exhibition was held in Caochangdi, an arts district in the north-east of Beijing that is home to a number of galleries and art and design studios and was due to be demolished until it was spared by the government in May 2011.
The text below is from the designers:
Instant Hutong is getting more visual in occasion of Beijing Design Week 2012! Italian designers Marcella Campa and Stefano Avesani's participation at BJDW 2012 consists of the Blinking City Project, a multimedia setting made of interactive maps based on collages of historical Hutong neighbourhoods of Beijing. We played with our work, usually street-oriented and mostly focused on the daily interactions of people and their city, designing a unique exhibition environment made of maps and colours.
The project is composed of diverse parts, each of them using a different media to better express a sense of rapid change. In the exhibition space visitors will be surrounded by interactive maps and urban patterns that will progressively define an aesthetic merging of forms and colours inspired by a nomadic and itinerant urban geography.
The exhibition will feature a background wall composed by 32 new digital printings on lenticular panels, which vary according to the movements of viewers; a long map on paper roll to take away by the metre; video animation with relax area and an Urban Carpet by Instant Hutong which will change every day.
Blinking City project investigates the capability of maps to describe city environments characterized by fast pace development and urban growth. In such kind of urban context, as soon as the map is done the city it depicts has already gone.