The 2011 Occupy Movement has taught us that in seizing space, we can seize the imagination. In the name of austerity, public services and public spaces are under assault, our current political and economic moment is characterized by the privatization of the public. If enclosure is a fundamental aspect of our contemporary moment, then occupation—a reclaiming of public space—is its countermovement. The Occupy encampments became a metonym for the larger struggle over privatization and austerity, public access and public demonstrations, and even for the embattled concept of “The Public” itself. Occupation as a tactic against privatization and austerity revealed the depths to which the supposed Public was already privatized, revealing the depth to which spaces, institutions, and the very conception of the public itself had already been enclosed, had become privately operated public spaces. It demonstrated the way in which the democratic possibilities of these supposedly common resources had already been foreclosed upon.
Throughout late antiquity, long after the collapse of the Roman administrative system, Augusta Emerita (Mérida, Spain) retained its role as a primary center for economic, political, religious, and social exchanges. However, the nature and the physical setting of many of those interactions changed significantly in this period. In particular, Emerita’s archaeological record from the fourth and fifth centuries confirms a trend away from the classical ideals that had contributed to the city’s early urban structure. This article argues that the sweeping urban changes experienced by the city are not just symptomatic of economic decline but that these changes should also be taken as important examples of the ongoing vitality of the Late Antique city center. As residents and officials encountered a new set of economic, political, religious, and social demands, they reshaped their urban environment to adapt to these new circumstances. The end result is most clearly distinguished in the remains of the late fifth-century city, but this post-Roman city has its roots in the Late Roman context of the fourth century.
The increasing involvement of the private sector in the design and management of urban public space has prompted some critical scholars to predict the ‘end of public space’. This study reassesses the implications of private sector involvement through a comparative analysis of British and Dutch urban spaces, based on a threefold critique of the existing literature on the privatization of public space. The analysis is governed by a new model of pseudo-public space that consists of four dimensions of ‘publicness’: ownership, management, accessibility and inclusiveness (OMAI). The findings suggest that, while there are significant differences between the British and the Dutch cases, neither context supports the notion of a possible ‘end of public space’ in any literal sense.
This paper looks at new, high-profile redevelopment projects in Tokyo and New York City and their surroundings for examples of trends in the design of urban public spaces and changing patterns in how they are used. This includes new parks and other open spaces, landscaped plazas or public squares associated with new office towers, shopping centers and other largescale commercial developments, and various popular “festival sites” such as those along recreation waterfronts. A comparison indicates that both cities have quite a few new public spaces that enhance the quality of urban life and add aesthetic appeal, but that also reflect certain social problems and divisions. We see the following common trends: (1) increasing privatization of spaces that were once more clearly in the public domain; (2) increasing surveillance of public spaces and control of access to them in order to improve security; and (3) increasing use of design themes that employ “theme park” simulations and break connections with local history and geography. In the Tokyo area there is also a curious trend to create large, landscaped open areas near new development projects that few people use. They can be called “planned wastelands” or “new urban deserts”. New York City, on the other hand, has succeeded in having more people come together for enjoyment in parts of the city that were once all but abandoned. The paper is illustrated with photographs, and draws on the examples of Times Square, South Street Seaport and Battery Park City in New York, and Yebisu Garden Place,
Teleport–Daiba, Makuhari New Town and Minato Mirai 21 in the Tokyo–Yokohama area.
This paper examines changing notions of public and private spaces in post-reform urban Shanghai by focusing on the emergence of private gated communities (fengbi xiaoqu) and their impact on the privatization of urban space and social life in the city. While gated communities in Anglo-American literature are typically cast in a negative light (often depicted as the bulldozing of public spaces by private interests), this paper offers a nuanced interpretation by arguing how Shanghai’s gated communities are, potentially, sites where greater household autonomy and personal freedom may be realized away from the hegemonic control of the Communist Party-state. By examining the evolving notions of private life/privacy in Shanghai, this paper contributes to the nascent understanding of the concepts of public and private in a non-Western context.
There are a series of discrete but related critiques of the contemporary public space situation, and it was these that the first part of this paper identified and organized. These drew on different scholarly traditions to highlight the key tensions at the heart of the contemporary public space debate. It revealed that critiques of public space could broadly be placed into two camps: those who argue that public space is over-managed, and those who argue that it is under-managed. This second part of the paper begins by arguing that both over and under-management critiques result in the same end, a homogenization of public space, although these outcomes may not be as stark as many of the critics would have us believe. What is clear is that the critiques reveal a range of public space types and means of classification. These are used in a final section of this paper to suggest a new typology of public space, one based on how public space is managed.
This two-part paper draws upon different scholarly traditions to highlight the key tensions at the heart of the contemporary public space debate. Critiques of public space can broadly be placed into two camps, those who argue that public space is over- managed, and those who argue that it is under-managed. This over-simplifies a complex discourse on public space that this paper aims to unpack, but nevertheless provides a useful lens through which to view the critiques. In fact there are a series of discrete but related critiques of the contemporary public space situation, and it is these that the first part of this paper identifies and organizes. In so doing it also reveals a range of public space types that are used in the second part of the paper to suggest a new typology of public space.
While research on business improvement districts (BIDs) has considered the constraints BIDs can place on the negotiation of public space and citizenship, little work has focused on the process of establishing neighborhood BIDs (NBIDs), and few scholars have examined perceptions of public space held by actual neighborhood constituents. This article analyzes a participatory mapping project and messages on a neighborhood e-mail list to compare the visions of place expressed by disempowered community members and by an NBID proposal. Our analysis illuminates how local power relations and inequalities can become inscribed in urban planning projects like NBIDs.
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.
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (2008)
Mega-projects are usually analyzed as state-led public–private partnerships and iconic architecture aiming at branding the city and attracting tourists and global investors. This article adopts a different approach, analyzing the construction of Helsinki's Kamppi mega-project in terms of the politics of property as a process of creating and distributing rights –– property rights, development rights and use rights. Although the Kamppi project did not follow ordinary planning regulations, this did not mean that there was no regulation; on the contrary, there was more than usual, but through contracts rather than planning. Regulation through contracts denied citizens any voice and negated the celebrated provision for participation in Finland's reformed planning legislation. The Kamppi contracts also show that property rights are negotiated, alienated, compensated, struggled over and constructed. Citizens protested against the demolition of historic buildings, but overlooked the series of Kamppi contracts, which limited their rights and introduced a whole new system in which use rights are connected to ownership. Finally, the long duration of the Kamppi project meant that many people also overlooked the privatization of formerly public space.
Recent scholarship contends that the rise of shopping malls, gated communities, and gentrification as well as citizens' withdrawal to the private realm have eroded public life in U.S. and Latin American cities. Malls' suburban location and security policies exclude the poor and restrict free speech; residents and fences in gated communities exclude outsiders; and police and businesses in downtowns and high-rent districts limit poor people's access to public areas. I expand this discussion with an analysis of the accessibility of Santiago, Chile's retail areas, the social relationships present there, and marginalized groups' informal resistance to their exclusion. The city's distinct segregation pattern, transit system, and state-licensed street markets permit greater contact between rich and poor and foster vital public spaces. I adapt Lofland's typology of fleeting, quasi-primary, and intimate secondary relations in public to examine social interactions in street markets, flea markets, and shopping malls. The distinct mix of relationships within these markets reflects the characteristics of users, varying degrees of accessibility to diverse populations, and state policies toward markets. Marginalized groups' informal resistance is pervasive in each setting. In contrast to the dominant view that public space is declining in contemporary cities, Santiago residents are not universally reclusive, antisocial, or reluctant to engage in cross-class public encounters, and the city retains vital public areas. The findings demonstrate that our understanding of public space is incomplete without an awareness of social relationships and informal resistance alongside structural constraints to the accessibility of urban locales.
Based primarily on an observational study, this paper addresses privately owned and managed public space at the Tjuvholmen waterfront development in Oslo. To date, no other research has been published internationally on external private-public space in a Nordic context. The four factors or processes dealt with are planning and development, design, management and, in particular, use. The main finding is that Tjuvholmen’s public spaces are characterized by ‘tightness’ and reduced publicness. As such, they share key characteristics with private-public spaces described in the literature from the US and the UK, while in some other respects they also deviate from these.
Urban plazas have proliferated in American downtowns during the last decade. This paper examines the private production of open space as a form of privatisation of a public amenity. Using three case studies of plazas built by private capital in downtown Los Angeles, the study examines their development process, design and physical layout, management, control and social uses. It is found that the spaces display characteristics drastically different from those of traditional public places. Certain design cues in combination with stringent control practices are used in these settings to promote the purposes and goals of private enterprise. Characteristics such as introversion, enclosure, protection, escapism, commercialism, social filtering and exclusivity are seen as resulting in environments that are congruent with the private interests but not always beneficial to the general public.
In the past five years the numbers of enclosed neighbourhoods have significantly increased in South Africa. These are existing neighbourhoods that are closed off through gates and booms across the roads. Many of these neighbourhoods are fenced or walled off as well, with a limited number of controlled entrances/exits, manned by security guards in some cases. The roads within these neighbourhoods were previously, or still are public property and in most cases the local council is still responsible for public services to the community within the enclosed neighbourhoods. In this way public urban space is privatised, whether formally or informally. I will explore the distribution of enclosed neighbourhoods in South Africa on a national scale and within two metropolitan municipalities, viz., the cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane. Then I proceed to highlight the nature and impact of these neighbourhoods on the privatisation of public space and draw on a wide basis of empirical data obtained through a national survey and in-depth case studies. Finally I will conclude with examples of lessons learnt from South Africa and how these may relate to international experience and future research on gated communities.
During the last two decades the literature on public space has registered the emergence of alternative forms of pubic space provision that depart from the traditional model of direct state ownership and management. The picture that emerges is a complex one, not so much one of privatization, but instead one of complex redistribution of roles, rights and responsibilities in public space governance to a range of social actors beyond the state. This paper discusses an approach to understanding the forms of publicness implicit in alternative forms of public space governance. Issues of rights, access, accountability and control could be examined in public space governance arrangements based on contracts, legal agreements and performance management mechanisms involving private and voluntary entities instead of the traditional public sector processes of policy delivery and accountability. The paper proposes a framework for investigating how ‘publicness’ is constructed and maintained through these arrangements.
Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review (2005)
Akkar, Z. M.
The proliferation of alluring, distinctive and exclusive public spaces in many postindustrial cities raises the question of how far these environments are truly "public." Focusing on this question, this article explores the changing "publicness" of a recently redeveloped space in the city center of Newcastle upon Tyne, Britain, in relation to the dimensions of access, actor and interest. It further seeks to underline two emerging trends: the blurring of distinction between public and private spaces in the public realms of postindustrial cities; and the threat posed by image-led regeneration strategies to the everyday needs of and the civic functioning of genuine public spaces.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH (2016)
Recent studies of public space in US central cities tend to focus either on (1) market-driven placemaking (privatized parks, hipster shops) in gentrifying enclaves
or (2) street cultures (community gardens, hip-hop) in low-income neighborhoods. Neither focus adequately frames the ability of African Americans to shape public space as the white middle class returns to central cities. In this case study of downtown Detroit, I theorize a dialectic: the history of clashes between racial capitalism and social movements in public space reappears in the contradictory design of market-driven placemaking, which suppresses and displays cultures of resistance. White business and real-estate interests showcase downtown spaces to counter news of disinvestment and suffering in low-income neighborhoods. The legal and political legacies of civil rights and black power struggles–– combined with consumer demand (black culture sells)––force them to involve black entrepreneurs, professionals and artists in placemaking. This placemaking subordinates the black urban poor, even as it incorporates their street cultures. The contradictions of placemaking shape possibilities for resistance, as shown in mundane subversions and street protests that use the downtown spotlight to call for social justice citywide. This analysis contributes to research on public space at a time when new movements are challenging public order in the financial core of US cities.
Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability (2015)
The global public spaces literature has been critical of contemporary manifestations of public space on a number of grounds. This article reports on a research project that attempted to gauge the validity of these critiques through an examination of new and regenerated public spaces in London. The article introduces the dominant critiques around public space before outlining the mixed-methods approach used to interrogate them. The key findings from this work are summarised before the nature of contempo- rary public space is re-theorised in a more avowedly positive and pragmatic manner than is often the case, one that celebrates a return of a public spaces paradigm through tentatively advancing a new narrative and set of normative principles for public space generation. The work concludes that a more balanced view of public space is required, one that recognises the multiple complex types, roles and audiences for public spaces in cities today.
Parallel to the recent rise in interest in public spaces, the proliferation of alluring, distinctive and exclusive public spaces in many post-industrial cities raises the question of how far these environments are truly ‘public’. This paper discusses the question of the ‘publicness’ of contemporary public spaces in Britain, where they have been placed at the top of the political agenda of the Labour Governments since the late- 1990s. Studying in depth the changing ‘publicness’ of the Grey’s Monument Area (GMA), a public space recently refurbished in the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, regarding the dimensions of ‘access’, ‘actor’ and ‘interest’, the paper seeks to show that, contrary to the wide recognition of diminishing ‘publicness’ of contemporary public spaces in urban design and planning literature, the recent refurbishment has in fact had both positive and negative impacts on the ‘publicness’ of the GMA. The paper concludes that contemporary public spaces may show different shades of ‘publicness’, in which degrees of ‘access’, ‘actor’ and ‘interest’ can vary widely, and seeks to underline the emerging trends and threats of: (i) the blurring distinction between public and private spaces, and (ii) image-led regeneration strategies dominating everyday society’s needs and civic functions of genuine ‘public’ spaces, and ultimately violating the ‘publicness’ of public realms in post-industrial cities.
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (2007)
Severcan, Y. C. & Barlas, A.
The disappearance of public spaces from the urban realm is a sign of the de-individuation and asocialization of the modern individual. However, cities still
provide important tools for reclaiming our lost public life. The aim of this essay is to approach industrial heritage, usually considered a conservation issue, from a different perspective, as a tool for individuation and socialization. In order to do this, we start by describing the effects of capitalism and globalization on public open spaces, and then link this to governments’ privatization policies for industrial heritage. We show how industrial landscapes could function as public spaces. Finally, we explain how, in the absence of other public open spaces, industrial landscapes could be used for public purposes to meet the social needs of humans, and could thus be instrumental in the proliferation of our rituals.
Urban public space is once again a 'hot' topic and figures strongly in place quality discourse. City spaces are being recycled, reinterpreted and reinvented in a drive for a competitive quality of place. This article illustrates the changing face of contemporary UK public space through a qualitative analysis of the perceptions held by public and professional-bureaucratic actors. Drawing on empirical case study research of five recent enhancement schemes at prominent nodes throughout the North East of England, the research explores the culture and economics of urban public space design. Tentative observations are expressed in terms of the links between cultural activity and economic vitality, and some reflections on policy and practice are put forward.
New York City has actively engaged the private sector in providing publicly accessible spaces through the use of density bonuses and other mechanisms since 1961. In this article, we examine how the changing regulatory environment, promulgated by zoning reforms of the mid-1970s that advocated for increased amenity creation, has impacted the use, design and management of privately owned public space (POPS). We examine 123 POPS – 47 constructed before the mid-1970s reforms, 76 built after the reforms – using an index to measure levels of control or openness in publicly accessible space. We find that compared with prereform spaces, post-reform spaces encourage use through the introduction of design features and signage, but discourage use by decreasing accessibility of the space and increasing the amount of subjective rules and regulations. We also find that the reforms had no significant impact on use or sociability. Our findings can help guide planners and policymakers in New York City and elsewhere to understand how they can not only encourage better privately owned spaces, but perhaps even mandate them.
Journal of the American Planning Association (2001)
We worry these days that public space, indeed the public realm, is shrinking. This essay examines the underlying causes of such discontent, in the context of historic and recent transformations in social values and public ethos. Seemingly, three major trends - privatization, globalization, and the communications revolution - will continue to shape the future demand and supply of public space. Planners must anticipate the effects of such trends, but also focus on the concept of public life, which encompasses both private and public realms. The article concludes by reviewing the role that planners may play in advancing the cause of public space and the opportunities and initiatives for the future.
This article searches for public domains in the history of public spaces in Monterrey from the perspective of their colloquial use by different social groups. Through documentary analysis, it reconstructs the transition from publicly owned public spaces to their privatised counterparts. The article expands the traditional somewhat idyllic narrative of public spaces and offers clues to how different social groups have used them. Public spaces have changed during four main periods. A centralised public space appeared during the colonial period (1596–1810), followed by socially segregated spaces between the beginning of the war for independence until after the revolution (1810–1940). The dispersion of public space characterises the period of the metropolitan expansion of Monterrey (1940–1980). Finally, the privatisation of public spaces occurred at the turn of the millennium (1980–2015). Women, children and lower socioeconomic classes have had unequal access to public spaces in Latin America, thus precluding them from being considered public domains.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (2016)
Mohd Yusof, Mohd Johari, & Rakhshandehroo, Mehdi
As Malaysia's population continues to grow and becomes more concentrated in urban areas, the important benefits of urban green spaces to the environment, the economy, and the health and well-being of city residents become even more significant in counterbalancing some of the negative effects of the country's urban development. With this concern in mind, the authors designed a social survey for urban planners and landscape architects in Kuala Lumpur to identify and study their views on the nature, roles, and benefits of urban green spaces; the problems associated with protecting urban green spaces in Kuala Lumpur; and the attributes of green spaces they thought were most important when considering how much priority a particular green space should be given for preservation. Kuala Lumpur provides a particularly interesting case study as a rapidly growing city in a developing country with a tropical climate - a context in which there has been relatively little research on urban green space, despite the importance of shade in very hot climates. In addition, Kuala Lumpur has experienced a great loss of green space in recent decades, both on its periphery from urban expansion and around the city center from the drive (fueled by economic growth) to use central land more intensively.
The development of downtown public space has been increasingly defined by agreements negotiated between the public and private sectors. In the last decades the majority of downtown public space has occurred in the form of urban plazas, built as integral parts of privately owned office and retail complexes. In this paper we document the private production of public open space in the downtown areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco - two cities that have used distinctively different policy approaches in forming public-private partnerships. We examine how the process of public open space creation is affected by the culture of planning and development, and discuss similarities and differences in the imagery and form of plazas in the two cities. It is found that urban plazas are the reflection of a market-driven urbanism. As such they are quite homoge- neous in their form despite differences in the planning style and development process encountered in the two California cities.