This article analyses post-apartheid public spaces through social and spatial practices at the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront mall in Cape Town. Our empirical evidence suggests that these public spaces involve much more than just consumption patterns, as they sustain and support novel ways of asserting social identities in a new political situation. These changes are, however, quite complex and fraught with ambivalence. Consequently, we scrutinize how race is staged in that space, and how racial diversity produces various kinds of boundaries. We then argue that these urban practices lead us to an understanding of the precarious balance between private and public spaces. We propose the notion of ‘publicization’ – the process whereby private spaces acquire a more public dimension.
The ground floors of buildings are a key element of the urban experience, yet the dynamics that shape frontages are largely unknown. This article delves into the forces and patterns behind the transforming relationship between architecture and public space in Western urban cores over the past century. After defining a methodology for structurally measuring the interactivity of ground floor frontages over time, the study focuses on two case study urban cores of Detroit, Michigan and The Hague, Netherlands. Through a combination of narra- tive historiography, detailed mapping and statistical studies a set of recommendations is generated to help urban designers and planners better understand and counter frontage decline. The two seemingly disparate cities are demonstrated to have undergone remarkably similar patterns of frontage interactivity erosion, with outcomes diverging as a result of an often reinforcing set of forces. Only upon understanding frontages as social, economic, cultural, political and technological constructs with physical, functional and connotative effects on public space will the profession be able to effectively steer the future of the architecture of public life.
The present study investigated the effects of public art on visual properties and affective appraisals of landscapes. Undergraduate and graduate students sequentially viewed landscapes with or without public art and rated each one for visual properties and affective appraisals. Study 1 revealed that the presence of public art reduced pleasantness of the natural scene, but did not reduce that of the urban scene. In Study 2 focusing on the urban landscapes, the t-tests showed that public art consistently yielded greater arousal and the visual properties related with arousal level (e.g., complexity), whereas for pleasantness and the visual properties related with pleasantness (e.g., legibility) the scores varied with the public artworks. Adopting the experimental design that systematically combined 4 landscapes with 2 pieces of public art, Study 3 revealed that the affective quality of public art had more influence on the landscapes than the compatibility between public art and the landscapes.
There are numerous ways in which people make illegal or unauthorized alterations to urban space. This study identifies and analyzes one that has been largely ignored in social science: explicitly functional and civic-minded informal contributions that I call “do-it-yourself urban design.” The research, which began as an investigation into more “traditional” nonpermissable alterations, uncovered these cases—from homemade bike lanes and street signs to guerrilla gardens and development proposals—that are gaining visibility in many cities, yet are poorly accounted for by existing perspectives in the literature. This article examines the existing theories and evidence from interviews and other fieldwork in 14 cities in order to develop the new analytical category of DIY urban design. I present findings on the creators of these interventions, on their motivations to “improve” the built environment where they perceive government and other development actors to be failing, and on the concentration of their efforts in gentrifying areas. This introduces the possibility of conflict and complicates their impact. I argue that DIY urban design has wide-ranging implications for both local communities and broader urban policy.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (2001)
This study investigated influences of residential street layout on neighboring. The study design was quasi-experimental with one pretest and two posttest measurements in an intervention group and two control groups. Data were collected using a recently developed questionnaire (MMN) and through field observations. The intervention implemented in this study was a transformation of three sections of residential streets into street parks, entailing considerable changes in street floor and spatial layout, provisions of street furniture like benches, planting of trees and flower beds, installation of play equipment, and prohibition of traffic and parked vehicles. Supportive acts of neighboring, neighbor annoyance, and children's play showed an overall increase in the intervention streets, interpreted as a sign of increased involvement in the neighborhood. Weak social ties and neighborhood attachment showed more complex patterns of changes, depending on demographic factors. It is suggested that symbolic effects of the changes may be more significant than functional effects, and thus that a change of neighborhood identity is an important mechanism.
City beaches are produced by spreading sand, deckchairs and umbrellas onto industrial brownfields, parking lots, rights-of-way or other under-utilized open spaces. Where major reinvestment projects are lacking, these informal developments offer great amenity. This approach to placemaking is post-Fordist. It is highly flexible, even mobile. It involves complex, temporary networks of people and resources. It focuses on ‘soft’ content—services, programmes, themes, atmosphere—rather than inflexible built form. This enables rapid innovation. Through four case studies, the paper explores the roles and relationships among diverse actors—city mayors, entrepreneurs, property developers, grass-roots organizations, think-tanks and planners—in the production of city beaches, and identifies what new policies, tools and management approaches they require.
There is growing awareness among many city councils that their downtowns or central business districts have become bland or devoid of sufficient cultural activity to attract the highly skilled, creative workforce that is seen as a prerequisite for competitive success. This paper examines a recent set of policy initiatives to have emerged from the City of Sydney Council that has explicitly sought to mitigate the negative design outcomes of earlier phases of modernist office development through the promotion of a ‘finer grain’ urbanism, based around support for small shops and services, civic spaces oriented towards pedestrians and the reinvigoration of intra-block laneways enlivened by small bars and cafes. The noted Danish urban designer Jan Gehl was an important agent in the development of these strategies, along with the success of similar policies in Melbourne, illustrating the significance of globally operative design professionals and inter-city learning. However, these policies have not gone uncontested, and the paper examines the political context that surrounds their implementation in central Sydney.
Focusing on imaginaries of the ideal city is an important method to illustrate the power of ideas, imagination, representations, and even visions, and how these dimensions influence the way in which cities are organized and lived. In this article, we argue that one current and important city imaginary in a Swedish context is the gender-equal city. In this imaginary, the gender-equal city becomes a symbol for the open, tolerant, bustling, safe city, a city aiming to attract the middle and creative classes. However, at the same time, the imaginary of the ideal, gender-equal city is highly ambiguous. The ambiguity will be discussed throughout the article. Based on present planning projects in the city of Umea in Sweden, we will discuss how the imaginary of the gender-equal city is presented, filled with meaning and used in place marketing, with the overall ambition of discussing the possibilities and pitfalls of what we call the gender-equality planning strategy. The aim of the article is to study how the city of Umeå is acting to create a gender-equal city and what kind of imaginaries these practices build on. The material consists primarily of a case study focusing on projects that aim to create an equal city, and also includes analyses of policy documents and media reports. This study illustrates how imaginaries are produced through local projects and different imaginaries provide different spaces for politicizing gendered power relations.
Jamie Anderson, Felicia Huppert, Kai Ruggeri & Koen Steemers
Empirical urban design research emphasizes the support in vitality of public space use. We examine the extent to which a public space intervention promoted liveliness and three key behaviors that enhance well-being (“connect,” “be active,” and “take notice”). The exploratory study combined directly observed behaviors with self-reported, before and after community- led physical improvements to a public space in central Manchester (the United Kingdom). Observation data (n = 22,956) and surveys (subsample = 212) were collected over two 3-week periods. The intervention brought significant and substantial increases in liveliness of the space and well-being activities. None of these activities showed increases in a control space during the same periods. The findings demonstrate the feasibility of the research methods, and the impact of improved quality of outdoor neighborhood space on liveliness and well-being activities. The local community also played a key role in conceiving of and delivering an effective and affordable intervention. The findings have implications for researchers, policy makers, and communities alike.
Ghats have come about as a response to religious, spiritual and social needs along the water edges in India and have become places of human congregation. This study is limited to the main ghat area of the waterfront in Ujjain, a historic city and a significant Hindu spiritual center in India. The objective is to identify forces that underpin and threaten this valuable environment and propose strategies that could be implemented to salvage it. Research was conducted through detailed examination of physical aspects of the urban public realm, activity patterns and environmental conditions. Text, data and drawings were systematically collected through various sources. Key concerns are discussed in the light of current thinking on the subject to propose strategies and draw up conclusions for necessary conservation and revitalization to take place.
This study assessed the factors that shaped the development of shared trust, norms, reciprocity (TNR), and social ties—important foundations of social capital—for low-income HOPE VI (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere) residents who relocated to new communities. A longitudinal mixed-methods approach revealed the distinct but understudied role that neighborhood institutions, facilities, and public spaces play in shaping observations, encounters, and interactions with other coresidents (as well as outsiders). Multivariate analyses of survey data indicate that neighborhood facilities and public spaces, such as parks, libraries, and recreation facilities, were very strong predictors of TNR among neighbors. Indepth interviews with relocated women revealed the ways in which neighborhood structure and public spaces can shape social encounters and relations in the neighborhood. This article presents a discussion of the ways in which these important but often overlooked neighborhood attributes can structure contact with neighbors and considers implications for policies aimed at improving low-income peoples access to social capital through relocation.
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2004)
De La Pradelle, M., & Lallement, E.
In 2003, for the second year running, the Paris municipality entrusted a young theater designer with the transformation of one stretch of the banks of the Seine River—normally congested with heavy traffic—into an open space evocative of the seaside. Paris in August is therefore Paris by the seaside. The objective of our study is to examine the entire operation, from the moment the political decision was taken by the municipality to the many and varied activities of all those who participated. Through this study, we attempt to highlight the different forms of material and symbolic (re)creation of Paris being undertaken today. We show that in a situation such as this, a reflection on the fieldwork undertaken and the production of ethnographic knowledge is in fact the key factor in the analysis.
Planning issues for urban waterfront Redevelopment projects are examined in this paper, based upon case studies in New York, London, Boston and Toronto. The research programme was based upon over 100 interviews with key actors in the four cities. The paper is oriented towards practical problems in the implementation of planning. It generally considers the perspective of the redevelopment agency to consider waterfront planning and development techniques. The specific issues which are addressed include changing the waterfront's image, improving accessibility and controlling the quality of the physical environment. An incremental approach to implementation is recommended, with emphasis upon controlling the quality of the public realm and the role of urban design guidelines to guide private development.
How might the urban structure and public space of Christchurch change as a result of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes? This paper will look at council and community led post-earthquake urban space projects in Christchurch, New Zealand, to investigate the potential reconfiguration of urban public space and structure and the balance of top-down and bottom-up design processes for the delivery of these projects. This will be achieved by comparing the performance of the urban public space and structure of the city during the post-earthquake emergency and recovery phases, with a view to understanding the contribution that these elements can make to the resilience of Christchurch. The paper will argue that Christchurch’s nineteenth century urban structure served the population well during the emergency phases of the disaster and that post-earthquake community-led initiatives model innovative capabilities which may enhance urban design practice in the future.
The current deployment of large screens in city centre public spaces requires a substantial rethinking of our understanding of the relationship of media to urban space. Drawing on a case study of the Public Space Broadcasting project launched in the UK in 2003, this article argues that large screens have the potential to play a significant role in promoting public interaction. However, the realization of this potential requires a far-reaching investigation of the role of media in the construction of complex public spaces and diverse public cultures.
A case study of the renovation of New York City’s Bryant Park, this article revisits the end of public space thesis. The renovated park signifies not the end of public space but the new ends to which public space is oriented. In Bryant Park, a new logic of urban publicity was assembled and built into the landscape. The social and technical means by which this transformation was achieved are analyzed. New public spaces of this sort promulgate a conception of the public that is decoupled from discourses of democratization, citizenship, and self-development and connected ever more firmly to consumption, commerce, and social surveillance. If such places do not herald the end of public space, they do represent “publicity without democracy.”
International journal of urban and regional research (2013)
DomÍnguez Rubio, F. & Fogué, U.
The aim of this article is to explore new ways of integrating technology, nature and infrastructures into urban public spaces. This is done through a case study, the design of General Vara del Rey, which is offered here as a model to explore a novel urban political ecology that calls into question dominant definitions of public spaces as self‐contained sites operating independently of natural and infrastructural spaces. Through the double movement of ‘the technification of public space’ and ‘the publicization of infrastructures’, the square aims to rethink the political ecology of urban public spaces by enabling the effective incorporation and participation of infrastructural and natural elements as active actors into the public and political life of the community. It is argued that the transformation of infrastructures into fully visible, public and political agents provides a useful model to address the growing proliferation of infrastructural and technological elements onto contemporary urban surfaces and to open up the possibility of new forms of civic participation and engagement.
Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability (2015)
Temporary uses of vacant urban spaces are usually not foreseen in conventional urban planning and have often been linked to economic or political disturbances. In New Zealand, Christchurch’s vacant spaces came into existence after the city was hit by several devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Parallel to the ‘official’ rebuild dis- course, temporary uses have emerged on vacant post-earthquake sites including community gardens, urban agriculture, art installations, event venues, eateries and cafés, and pocket parks. Based on the review and analysis of exemplary transitional community-initiated open spaces and correlated literature, the paper looks at how the post-disaster urban context in Christchurch has influenced particular aspects of temporary urbanism in comparison with case studies in non-disaster environments. By focusing on the anticipated benefits of community-initiated open spaces, the paper dis- cusses the relevance of temporary uses of vacant urban spaces for urban sustainability in relationship to concepts of community resilience and raises questions about possible long-term values.
Garrett Hardin's 1968 essay "The Tragedy of the Commons" famously decried the vulnerability of finite communal resources to overexploitation. Yet collective accessibility to and ownership of resources need not necessarily lead to their mismanagement or abuse; rather, the practice of sharing resources can engender positive environmental, social, economic, and political impacts. Social capital, as both the source and product of relational interactions which occur within public space, constitutes one of these benefits. This paper investigates the relationship between temporary communal spaces and social capital through a case study of the Commons project in Christchurch, New Zealand. Generated by both the space itself and the interactions that occur within it, the social capital created in and through the Commons has become a powerful symbol of recovery in a city recovering from disaster. Instead of the tragedy of the commons, therefore, this paper presents the story of the Commons of the tragedy and explores the ways in which social capital has been fostered in and through this space.
Scholarship in urban sociology has pointed to the reliance of city governments on ever-more market mechanisms for organizing social and economic policy. This form of governance involves prioritizing cities’ cultural and social assets for their value in a global competition of urban “brands,” each competing for new infusions of human and investment capital. At the same time, however, cities have been at the center of seemingly progressive policy efforts aimed at promoting innovation, sustainability, and creativity. These themes represent a newly dominant planning discourse in cities across the globe. While researchers have thoroughly examined how “creative classes” and “creative cities” may exclude everyday, working-class, or poor residents, new urban imaginaries focused on sustainability potentially imply less stratified urban outcomes. Analyzing two high-profile interventions in Buenos Aires, Argentina—a sustainable urban regeneration plan for the historic downtown, and the creation of an arts cluster in the impoverished south of the city—this paper argues that despite divergent narratives, creative and sustainable urban projects suggest similar policy agendas, planning assumptions, and relationships to market mechanisms. Increasingly, global policies, whose design and objectives may appear to contradict market logics, may have outcomes that further them.