Processes in the construction of public space: bottom up versus top-down processes : Informal spaces and alternative uses

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Historically there have always been two different genealogies of public space (Rowe,1981; Sennett,1997 Trachana, 2014). On the one hand there have been spaces created by human societies over time, based on evolution, empirical knowledge, daily life and the real needs of communication and exchange among citizens. These are places full of life that persist over centuries in our cities (De Certeau, 1999). On the other hand, there are instant spaces, planned, designed, and imposed from above. These spaces are governed by a geometric, abstract and symbolic order. They are regulated or regulatory spaces that impose certain patterns of use and behaviour that have prevailed from the Renaissance and Baroque to modern and contemporary times in terms of urbanism. Today the effectiveness and professionalism in urban design that local administrations and economic powers have promoted and always justified by the common good, is being questioned. 􀀀ı The main issue addressed here is how some practices that are being spread nowadays, can be justified. This paper is a critical review of different urban actions that are taking place in Europe (with special emphasis in the case of Spain) and Latin America, and that are an alternative to the public sector in urban planning. Some of the most common actions are the occupation of empty sites, urban gardens, ephemeral transformations of public space for social and recreational uses, and other practices that generally respond to citizen’s real needs in depressed neighbourhoods and impoverished urban areas. These practices constitute effective responses with little means adapted to the current socio-economic situation that imply austerity in public resources and an optimization in the use of technological tools within easy reach by both, professionals and citizens. They are made possible by the network connectivity resulting in collective actions in the physical space. The new models of performance have not only begun to be supported by the public sector but have been adopted and are actually promoted by them.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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