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Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space (2016)
How do the wealthiest inhabitants in one of the world’s wealthiest cities engage with public settings? Certainly, public concern about social and spatial divisions resulting from gross inequalities has not been matched by empirical research into the flows and social repertoires of the very wealthy. This article presents research examining the place and impact of the super-rich on London and considers how this group relates to its others, how they traverse urban spaces and their feelings about the value and relative dangers of the city. The impression derived from this investigation is of a group able to use residential locational choices and choreographed mobilities as strategies to avoid negative aspects of daily life in the city (visible poverty, potential danger, spaces of social and ethnic difference). Yet despite these strategies of selective engagement, it is also possible to identify a celebration of London as a safe and cosmopolitan urban field in which cultural institutions and commercial districts allow what is nevertheless a socially delimited range of interactions. The city allows the very wealthy to experience London as a democratic and welcoming space underwritten by high levels of domestic security, spatial divisions/buffers and public–private security apparatuses that facilitate their relative invisibility and safety. The wealthy take on a cloaked co-presence that prevents the need for disagreeable encounters with poverty, facilitated by the built structures and networks of the city.
New Media & Society (2009)
This article examines the ways in which individuals use MP3 players to shape their experiences of the London commute. To investigate MP3 listening practices, I conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with eight DJs and ‘listeners’ living in London. I argue that MP3 players enable individuals to use music to precisely shape their experiences of space, place, others and themselves while moving through the city. In doing so, individuals experience great control as they transform urban journeys into private and pleasurable spaces. While experienced effects of MP3 player listening were similar among respondents, pre-existing relationships to music appear to relate to motivations for use. This article draws on a variety of social theorists ranging from Simmel and Adorno to Lefebvre to interrogate the experience of control MP3 users describe, and to understand the implications for the autonomy of urban inhabitants.
Ethnic and Racial Studies (2015)
This paper emerges from an ethnography of the economic and cultural life of Rye Lane, an intensely multi-ethnic street in Peckham, South London. The effects of accelerated migration into London are explored through the reshaping and diversification of its interior, street and city spaces. A ‘trans-ethnography’ is pursued across the compendium of micro-, meso- and macro-urban spaces, without reifying one above the other. The ethnographic stretch across intimate, collective and symbolic city spaces serves to connect how the restrictions and circuits of urban migration have different impacts and expressions in these distinctive but interrelated urban localities. The paper argues for a trans-ethnography that engages within and across a compendium of urban localities, to understand how accelerated migration and urban ‘super-diversity’ transform the contemporary global city.
This paper examines the relationship between space and the digital industries through everyday work practices in Shoreditch, London. Drawing on interviews with digital workers, the paper examines how work unfolds in multiple settings and how the built environment supports these work patterns. Digital work extends from the office or the residence (the base) to multiple settings (ancillary spaces) in what can be defined as an extended workplace. The study identifies micro and macro scale characteristics of the built environment that are relevant (spatial characteristics of semi-public and public spaces, access and control, location, and attributes of the neighbourhood) expanding the understanding of why and how place matters for these industries. A typology of ancillary spaces and some reflections on policy implications are advanced.
Journal of Urban Design (1997)
This article explores the relationship between pavement cafés, street life and urban public social life. It argues that the licensing of public entertainment and the enforcement of liquor licences and rigid opening times have helped to undermine public social life in English cities. Attitudes which first gained ascendancy in the 1890s have remained dominant and, broadly speaking, unchanged. Nevertheless, there has been a recent and fairly rapid growth in wine bars, cafés and bistros in London and some other English cities. The paper explores whether these help to stimulate public social life. Reference is made to research in Holland and Denmark, and also recent experience in London and Manchester. The paper concludes that city policy makers should, in the short term at least, act to stimulate café culture. Some anti-social and behavioural problems might well require an element of control, and not all urban areas are suited to café culture. Yet in a technological age, café culture represents one of the few remaining opportunities for public sociability. Where it creates a nuisance, it could and should be controlled but this is not the same thing as exercising an all-persuasive moral control which has its roots in Victorian England.
This article is based on a cross-national qualitative study of homeless and street-involved youth living within Olympic host cities. Synthesizing a Lefebvrian spatial analysis with Debord's concept of 'the spectacle', the article analyses the spatial experiences of homeless young people in Vancouver (host to the 2010 Winter Olympics) and draws some comparisons to London (host to the 2012 Summer Olympics). Tracing encounters with police, gentrification and Olympic infrastructure, the article assesses the experiences of homeless youth in light of claims made by Olympic proponents that the Games will 'benefit the young'. By contrast, the authors argue positive Olympic legacies for homeless and street-involved young people living within host cities are questionable.
Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy (2013)
Battles over public space involve conflicts of values that express themselves in planning policies as well as the built environment. However, the dominant conceptions of public space in planning practice and the academic literature support a limited range of those values. I argue that conceptions based on openness and accessibility play into a particular construction of public life that emphasises casual interactions and downplays purposive, political ones. Following a conceptual analysis of the public–private distinction, the paper offers a novel, threefold account of public space; argues that democracy requires a particular kind of publicness not recognised by the commonly accepted definition; and deploys a simple content analysis to highlight the conceptual emphases and absences in planning policy in the political heart of London. I argue that some advocates of public space are unwittingly supporting restrictive planning and design practices that limit important kinds of democratic expression.
The Town Planning Review (1996)
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.
Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability (2011)
Using surveys collected from 10 major metropolitan cities across the world, this article examines the factors that affect the extent to which people feel connected to others who live in their neighborhood and feel proud and satisfied with life in their cities. The cities included in the analysis are: New York, London, Paris, Stockholm, Toronto, Milan, Berlin, Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo. We find that certain aspects of the built environment, the conditions of the public sphere, and the extent of positive social networks in the city are critically important for understanding residents’ connections to each other and to their cities. Our findings provide insights for policy makers and planners concerned with making cities viable and livable.
Urban Studies (1988)
Contemporary provision of open spaces within cities rests largely on professional assumptions about its significance in the lives of residents. This paper presents results from the Greenwich Open Space Project which used qualitative research with four, in-depth discussion groups to determine the design of a questionnaire survey of households in the borough. The research shows that the most highly valued open spaces are those which enhance the positive qualities of urban life: variety of opportunities and physical settings; sociability and cultural diversity. The findings lend some support to the approach of the urban conservation movement but present a fundamental challenge to the open-space hierarchy embodied in the Greater London Development Plan. The Project identifies a great need for diversity of both natural settings and social facilities within local areas and highlights the potential of urban green space to improve the quality of life of all citizens.
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.
Health & Place (2008)
The rejuvenation of public spaces is a key policy concern in the UK. Drawing on a wide literature and on qualitative research located in a multi-ethnic area of East London, this paper explores their relationship to well-being and social relations. It demonstrates that ordinary spaces are a significant resource for both individuals and communities. The beneficial properties of public spaces are not reducible to natural or aesthetic criteria, however. Social interaction in spaces can provide relief from daily routines, sustenance for people’s sense of community, opportunities for sustaining bonding ties or making bridges, and can influence tolerance and raise people’s spirits. They also possess subjective meanings that accumulate over time and can contribute to meeting diverse needs. Different users of public spaces attain a sense of well- being for different reasons: the paper calls for policy approaches in which the social and therapeutic properties of a range of everyday spaces are more widely recognised and nurtured.
Population, Space and Place (2015)
Situating itself in encounter and public space debates and borrowing from non‐representational theory approaches, this paper uses data from the authors' 2‐year Economic and Social Research Council research project to consider how local urban parks can work as sites of routine encounter, mixity, and place belonging. The paper explores how parks as green public spaces are important as sites of inclusive openness while the materiality of parks is a key dynamic in affective encounter processes. Parks can work as animators of social interactions, participatory practices, and place affinities across ethnic and cultural difference. The paper concludes that the concept of convivial encounter can be extended to incorporate the concept of elective practices – choosing to be in shared public space can generate connective sensibilities that are not necessarily contingent on exchange. In using parks as a lens to examine localities and diversity, the paper critically reflects on research practices for understanding and describing heterogeneous formations of multiculture and outlines how the project's research design and the fieldwork methods sought to carefully and appropriately undertake research with complexly different places and populations.
Environment and Planning A (2010)
Despite a burgeoning literature on mobilities in general and cycling in particular as a transport, leisure, and political practice, there remains a lack of research on cycling in pedestrian public spaces. There is, however, a substantial body of literature in relation to skateboarding in public spaces which with few exceptions theorises it as resistant to preexisting dominant design codes and social norms. Using the example of London's South Bank this paper focuses on the urban cycling practices of bike trials and BMX in order to illustrate that these practices are perhaps not as `resistant' as previous accounts have argued. Whilst accounts of skateboarding have tended to draw upon a body ^ architecture dialectics and subcultural theory, using ethnographic methods this paper discusses the practice and reception of display, sociality, and authority inherent in these public performances. In doing so the paper demonstrates that these styles of riding largely perform the social and cultural norms enshrined in the redevelopment of the South Bank. The result is a performed reading of these practices and spaces which sees power as always becoming. In line with this, the paper also questions the logic of current strategies which seek to displace riders and skaters to peripheral `private' skate parks based on an erroneous reading of such practices as always resistant.
Journal of Urban Design (2013)
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.
The British Journal of Sociology (1994)
The policing of the anti-poll tax campaign allows an insight into how protest is incorporated. Protestors were both accommodated and coerced as police sought to balance various threats of 'trouble.' Concessions and overt assistance were offered as a means of 'winning over' the protest organizers, whilst legal conditions were imposed to ensure that any threat of disorder was contained. This analysis suggests that notions of an ubridled shift towards a more confrontational style of policing in the wake of the Public Order Act are unfounded. It illustrates the relationship between institutional and interactional social processes, for institutional considerations limit the police's room for manoeuvre, whilst low-level decisions by police officers themselves have implications for those institutions.
Urban Studies (2010)
This paper examines recent responses to 'problematic street culture' in England, where increasing pressure has been exerted to prevent people from begging and street drinking in public spaces, with rough sleeping also targeted in some areas. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with enforcement agents, support providers and targeted individuals, it assesses the extent to which the strategies employed are indicative of a Revanchist expulsion' of the deviant Other and/or an expression of 'coercive care' for the vulnerable Other. It concludes that, whilst the recent developments appear, at first glance, to be symptomatic of revanchist sanitisation of public space, closer examination reveals that the situation is actually much more complex than a revanchist reading of the situation might suggest, and perhaps not as devoid of compassion.
Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design (2016)
By studying the mathematical properties of metrics, we identify three fundamental characteristics of distance, which are optimality, detour and break. In this paper, we explore the implications of these properties for transport planning, urbanism and spatial planning. We state that distances contain the idea of optimum and that any distance is associated to a search for optimisation. Pedestrian movements obey this principle and sometimes depart from designed routes. Local suboptimality conveyed by public transport maps has to be corrected by interventions on public space to relieve the load on central parts of networks. The second principle we state is that detour in distances is most often a means to optimise movement. Fast transport systems generate most of the detour observed in geographical spaces at regional scale. This is why detour has to be taken into account in regional transport policies. The third statement is that breaks in movement contribute to optimising distances. Benches, cafe´s, pieces of art, railway stations are examples of the urban break. These facilities of break represent an urban paradox: they organise the possibility of a break, of a waste of time in a trip, and they also contribute to optimising distances in a wider
network. In that sense, break should be considered as a relevant principle for the design of urban space in order to support a pedestrian-oriented urban form.
City & Community (2014)
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 Urban Design (2004)
The main public spaces in European cities are the focus of much attention, whereas marginal public spaces are places of neglect and decline. The concentration of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in limited spaces creates a sense of entrapment. The social fragments that have been put next to each other in deprived neighbourhoods, either by market forces or by public planning, start to crack in public places of these neighbourhoods. On the one hand, intensive use of space by some groups excludes and intimidates others. On the other hand, the limited amount of public space is under the threat of encroachment by other demands on a finite commodity. In these places of fragmentation and competition, communication is often difficult, if not impossible, as different social groups speak different languages, have different attitudes and have different frameworks. A public space that allows this diversity to become aware of itself through free expression can be a significant asset for such a diverse population. Improving public places can improve the actual conditions of life in these neighbour- hoods, while injecting a sense of hope and a better image in the eyes of residents and the outside world. Although a key part of good governance, there is no doubt that this should be put in perspective, as one among a number of issues that need addressing.