This paper proposes an essentially new theory of urban space based on information theory and the laws of optics. The use of urban space is linked to the information field generated by surrounding surfaces, and on how easily the information can be received by pedestrians. Historical building exteriors usually present a piecewise concave, fractal aspect, which optimizes visual and acoustical signals that transmit information content. Successful urban spaces also offer tactile information from local structures meant for standing and sitting. The total information field in turn determines the optimal positioning of pedestrian paths and nodes. This complex interaction between human beings and the built environment, incredibly neglected in our times, explains why so many historical urban spaces provide an emotionally nourishing environment.
This article discusses how ever-increasing video-surveillance is changing the nature of urban space. The article evaluates whether surveillance can be seen as a means of making space safer and ‘more available’. The main focus is on surveillance in publicly accessible spaces, such as shopping malls, city streets and places for public transport. The article explains how space under surveillance is formed, and how it is related to power structures and human emotions. Space is conceptualized from various viewpoints. Three concepts of space are postulated: space as a container, power-space and emotional space. The purpose is not to construct a meta-theory of space; rather, the concepts are used as ‘tools’ for exploring the issue of surveillance. It is argued that video-surveillance changes the ways in which power is exercised, modifies emotional experiences in urban space and affects the ways in which ‘reality’ is conceptualized and understood. Surveillance contributes to the production of urban space.
The way urban solids relate to urban voids, the spatial relations of urban space itself and all other characteristics that define urban space are paramount in determining human distribution in any given community. This determines social relations that in turn reproduce spatial relations. This kind of process determines what sort of community and hence environment that is eventually generated. It is the intention of this paper to establish urban variables and hence urban patterns that promote human distribution, which in turn creates a sustainable community. A further intention is to establish a language that could be used to generate policies and design rules for such communities.
Geographers have effectively examined girls’ reactions and resistances to adult control in public space, but the ways that girls learn about and rein scribe social differences like race and class through ‘hanging-out’ practices in public, urban space have yet to be sufficiently explored and theorized. Therefore, in this paper I consider the normative productivity of girls’ spatial practices, as well as girls’ resistances to adultist space. I examine the case of consumption space and focus on how girls utilize, create and reproduce myriad social identifiers as they hang out in public, urban space. Consumption space and consumerism dominate the urban spaces and hanging-out practices of teenagers, and while girls complain about the ubiquity of consumption space, girls’ public social-spatial activities inevitably involve consumption space. Therefore, consumption’s symbols and spaces are central to the normative production of girls’ identities like class and race, and of social difference more generally in urban space.
The rise of mobile food vending in US cities combines urban space and mobility with continuous online communication. Unlike traditional urban spaces that are predictable and known, contemporary vendors use information technology to generate impromptu social settings in unconventional and often underutilized spaces. This unique condition requires new methods that interpret online communication as a critical component in the production of new forms of public life. We suggest qualitative approaches combined with data-driven analyses are necessary when planning for emergent behavior. In Charlotte, NC, we investigate the daily operations, tweet content, and spatial and temporal sequencing of six vendors over an extended period of time. The study illustrates the interrelationship between data, urban space, and time and finds that a significant proportion of tweet content is used to announce vending locations in a time-based pattern and that the spatial construction of events is often independent of traditional urban form.
This research, which uses an intersectional feminist methodological approach, explores the relationships and intersections among women, public urban space, and bicycling, and the gendered processes through which the use of space is claimed, negotiated, and constrained. It builds on the existing scholarship on the gendered nature of public space, and uniquely uses bicycling as the site of inquiry. Drawing primarily from interviews with women cyclists in Chicago, this article explores how gender and other social identities are constructed, challenged, and constituted through an interaction with public space, urban processes and structures, and societal expectations and attitudes. It brings to the forefront and centers these narratives and empirically contextualizes them by linking the scholarship on the gendered (and raced, classed, and sexualized) nature of public space with the scholarship on women’s participation rates and barriers to bicycling. This research examines, through the everyday lived experiences of bicyclists and their multiple subject positions and privileges, how the gendered nature of public space affects the participation and experiences of women cyclists; how public space is negotiated and constrained; and how gender can be both (re)produced and challenged in and through urban space via women bicyclists’ actions. In particular, the research findings explore how women bicyclists must demand and negotiate public space; how their movement and activities are constrained in public space; how gender roles and social reproduction issues intersect with bicycling; and how social, quasi-advocacy group bicycle rides are used as a strategy, with mixed results, to address barriers to women bicyclists’ mobility.
In this article we aim to utilise and apply ethnomethodological and interactionist principles to the analysis of members’ situated accounts of regenerated urban space. With reference to previous empirical studies we apply membership categorization analysis and the concept of mundane reason to data gathered from situated street level interviews carried out as part of a programme of ethnographic research into the regenerated setting of Cardiff Bay. The article demonstrates that these data yield sociological insight into social actors’ interpretive and interactional reasoning in relation to the negotiation, navigation and comprehension of space and place. Through this work the patterned signatures of the urban interactional order can be identified. Furthermore, we illustrate the forms of emic rationality associated with the everyday and ubiquitous constitution of urban space as a meaningful, and thence cultural, milieu. It is our claim that an appreciation of these urban forms of reasoning is important in the ethnographic, sociological and geographical analysis of space and place.
International journal of urban and regional research (2012)
Öz, Ö. & Eder, M.
This is a study of Istanbul's periodic bazaars and an attempt to place them in the context of contestation over urban space, urban poverty and informality. The periodic bazaars in the city are either disappearing or being moved to the outskirts. These trends reflect and reproduce spatial unevenness in the city, manifesting new forms of social exclusion and polarization. The city's increasingly commodified urban space has become an arena of social and economic contestation. We address these questions by focusing on the story of the relocation of one of Istanbul's most popular periodic bazaars, the Tuesday bazaar in Kadıköy. Our analysis reveals that the relocation and reorganization of bazaars in Istanbul in the 2000s have largely been driven by rising real‐estate prices in the city: land has simply become too precious a commodity to be left to the bazaaris. Furthermore, in the context of a pervasive neoliberal discourse on urban renewal and modernization that promotes the notion of a hygienic city, the bazaaris, it seems, have become the new undesirables of the urban landscape, leaving them under double siege from the commodification of public land and from spatially defined social exclusion.
AIDS media lead unexpected lives once distributed through urban space: billboards fade, posters go missing, bumper stickers travel to other cities. The materiality of AIDS campaign objects and of the urban settings in which they are displayed structures how the public interprets their messages. Ethnographic observation of AIDS media in situ and interview data reveal how the materiality of objects and places shapes the availability of AIDS knowledge in Accra, Ghana. Significantly for AIDS organizations, these material conditions often systematically obstruct access to AIDS knowledge for particular groups. Attending to materiality rethinks how scholars assess the cultural power of media.
This article uses participant observation data to explore teenagers' presence in two urban public spaces in Manchester, England. The urban spaces under investigation are public, but surrounded by retail outlets and act as gateways for consumption. The aim is to answer the question 'how do the rhythms of teenage life differ when ordinary and extraordinary activities occur in urban public spaces of consumption?' Lefebvre's Rhythmanalysis is employed to analyse the data and identify instances of eurhythmia (harmonious rhythms), arrhythmia (discordant rhythms) and polyrhythmia (multiple simultaneous rhythms) during periods of typical and extraordinary use. Ordinarily the teenagers used the spaces of consumption to mostly meet and socialise with friends with a small number of them using the space to skateboard. This occurred harmoniously alongside others who pass through these gateways to consumption indicating multiple rhythms. The findings indicate that the teenagers were displaced from urban space during the staging of official events which involved increased control from authorities such as the local council and police. They were replaced by a different crowd of people consisting of mostly families and adults. Paradoxically, the 'festival' atmosphere created by extraordinary events in the gateways of consumption resulted more interaction among those present despite increased control from the authorities. Rhythmanalysis proved useful in understanding of spaces when researching spaces of consumption, as it exposes the temporal and fluid nature of urban space. Ultimately, there was no room for the presence of regular users (teenagers) during the staging of extraordinary events indicating a lack of multiple rhythms.
In this article I explore how an integrated approach to the anthropological study of urban space would work ethnographically. I discuss four areas of spatial/cultural analysis—historical emergence, sociopolitical and economic structuring, patterns of social use, and experiential meanings—as a means of working out of the methodological implications of broader social construction theoretical perspectives. Two plazas in San Jose, Costa Rica, furnish ethnographic illustrations of the social mediating processes of spatial practices, symbolic meaning, and social control that provide insight into the conflicts that arise as different groups and sociopolitical forces struggle to claim and define these culturally significant public spaces.
In India, there are religious practices intersecting with the process of urbanization at various levels. This paper looks at the practice of tree worship which continues to be a part of everyday life here. Specifically, it looks at how the Peepul tree (Ficus Religiosa) shrine with its serpent stones and the raised platform around it (katte) contributes to the territorial production of urban space in the city of Bangalore. Based on a study of 10 kattes in the city, it finds that these urban spaces belong either to a process of territorialization by the local community or its deterritorialization by the government. The paper builds a theoretical argument for how the katte as a ‘human activity node’ contributes to an ‘urban web’ which is categorized here as the physical layer. It finds that the Peepul tree could enable a ‘network of relations’, termed as the social layer. It suggests that the information fields generated within these layers influences collective memory of the people. Finally, the paper argues that the two layers acting together can help formulate an urban design model that can minimize deterritorialization.
The World Gay Pride week convened in Rome in July 2000 at the same time the Catholic Church planned on celebrating its Holy Year Jubilee. Thousands of gays came together, and by the end of the week more than 200,000 marched through the streets of Rome's historical centre. This unique event provides an opportunity to examine the causal relationship of the gay movement acquiring a political identity of its own while the city of Rome was trying to assert a `proper' identity for its public spaces. Acting in solidarity for the first time since its formation, the gay movement drew attention to the difficulties in securing unrestricted access to Rome's public spaces. Conservative sectors of society challenged the right to demonstrate, as guaranteed in Italy's Constitution, which resulted in the delay of obtaining the necessary permit. On the one hand, this revealed the existence of sectors of society not yet willing to acknowledge gay rights or even discuss gay issues in public; on the other, it helped make clear that the process for building Rome's identity is governed by a specific political design. In particular, policies for the privatisation of urban space in conjunction with discriminatory planning processes in the city's historical centre, point to tourism as a powerful tool to control urban space. Resisting this spatial marginalization the gay movement has significantly widened the scope of its social and political action in order to contest prevailing practices and trends which are shaping the city.
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.
This paper empirically explores the management of privately owned public space. It examines 163 spaces produced through New York City’s incentive zoning programme, whereby developers provide and manage a public space in exchange for fl oor area ratio (FAR) bonuses. Developers of these bonus spaces employ a variety of management approaches, each correlating with common theories of spatial control in publicly owned spaces. However, as developer priorities are often fi scally driven, most approaches severely limit political, social and democratic functions of public space and produce a constricted defi nition of the public. As such, privately owned public spaces have deleterious effects on concepts of citizenship and representation, even as they become the new models for urban space provision and management.
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.
All UNESCO urban World Heritage sites are strictly regulated. In Antigua, Guatemala, this includes building façades and streets, as well as the use of public places. Homeowners and building owners, however, challenge regulations by using unapproved paints, signs, and building materials. Residents modify building façades to accommodate cars and open walls to effectively blend home-based businesses with the street. At the same time, street vendors contest regulated public spaces by behaving inappropriately by selling goods on public streets rather than designated marketplaces. Rather than conceive of property owners and vendors behavior as outside and in contrast to the building and street vending regulations, I reframe their actions within what I am calling urban spatial permissiveness, a concept I derive from Roy’s (2004) theory of the unmapping—flexible regulation—of urban space. Antigua offers an ethnographic setting that shows how regulations are not always rigidly enforced but are negotiated to deal with everyday contingencies that relate to residents’ and vendors’ rights to the city (Harvey 2008). By way of conclusion I consider Foucault’s concept of governmentality as a negotiated process, in order to argue that relationships between building regulations and public space usage reveal the limits of legality and strict enforcement policies.
In Bangladesh, Dhaka is migrants' most important destination and has itself been fundamentally transformed through migration. But there is ‘no place’ for many migrants in Dhaka. Poorer migrants live in slums and many encroach on public space to sustain their lives – the new urbanites are taking their ‘right to the city’. In doing so, they not only draw on local resources. Their production of the urban space often relates directly to their migration trajectory, their translocal networks, and their simultaneous situatedness at multiple places. Migrants connect ‘the rural’ and ‘the urban’ and constitute translocal spaces, which contribute to re‐making Dhaka from below. This paper integrates current debates on translocality, informal labour, and subaltern urbanism to address two key questions on transient urban spaces: How do migration trajectories and translocality structure the urban poor's lives? How do migrants make use of local networks and translocal social relations to find work and appropriate ‘their place’ in the city? Empirical research on street food vendors in Dhaka, almost all of whom are internal migrants, builds the basis for my argument. I show that ‘translocal social capital’ and home‐bound identities can be important resources to gain access to urban labour markets and to appropriate one's place in the city. The paper argues that the poor use translocality for their livelihoods and thereby continuously re‐shape the face of the megacity of Dhaka.
Applying a gender perspective to cities reveals how spatial structure and social structure are mutually constitutive. This article reviews the ways cities have reflected and reinforced gender relations in the United States from the turn of the twentieth century to the present. First, I discuss ways in which women in industrial cities challenged the ideology of separate spheres. Next, I suggest that the post–World War II city was shaped by an era of high patriarchy similar to the architectural high modernism of the same era, and in the third section, I explore how that urban structure limited women's opportunities outside the home. In the fourth part, I examine changes in the concept of gender as it expanded beyond masculine and feminine categories to include lesbians, gays, and transgender individuals. The article ends with a review of how women's and gay rights movements, gentrification, and planning practices have shaped a more gender-neutral contemporary metropolis.