In cities around the world, instances of pop-‐up spaces, appropriated sites, temporary events, and guerrilla actions now provide new expressions to the notions of the public realm and public space. No longer confined to the archetypal categories of neighborhood parks, public plaza, and civic spaces, these ‘insurgent public spaces’ challenge both the conventional notion of public as well as the making of space. Rather than isolated events, these instances of ‘urban insurgency’ can be found in a variety of contexts. From Europe to Asia, residual urban sites and industrial lands have been converted for new uses by citizens and communities. In North America, urban and suburban landscapes have been adapted by new immigrant groups to support new functions. In Tokyo, private homes have been transformed into third places for community activities. From Seattle to Shanghai, citizen actions ranging from gardening to dancing have taken over existing urban sites and embedding in them new identities and meanings.
With over twenty case studies written by anthropologists, architects, communication scholars, design educators, geographers, landscape architects, public artists, and urban planners, this edited volume aims to critically examine the phenomenon of public space insurgency and its collective ramifications on placemaking and the design of cities. Through these case studies, the book asks: what can we learn from these everyday and not so everyday acts of resistance? What do they reveal about the limitations and possibilities of public realm in our contemporary city? Howare these spaces and activities redefining and expanding the roles, functions, and meanings of the public and the production of space in today’s cities?
Different from most recent books that focus on the diminishing public sphere, this book addresses new possibilities of public realm in the contemporary society. With students, educators, professionals, and the public as the audience, it is intended to inform, inspire, and instigate democratic placemaking in today’s cities. To provide a comparison of the widespread occurrences around the world, this book undertook a deliberately comparative approach and included cases from different geographical regions. The collection of cases also represents voices of the contributors who have been active in realizing such possibilities through their practice, research, teaching, and civic involvement. Together, the chapters offer lessons and explore further possibilities based on actual experiences and encounters on the ground.
The exemplary cases in this volume suggests that although many of these acts of insurgency may seem small and insignificant, they enable individuals and small groups to effect changes in the otherwise hegemonic urban environments.While the actions may often be informal, sporadic, and sometimes ephemeral, they have the ability to destabilize the structure and relationships in the official public space and release possibilities for new interactions, functions, and meanings. In the wake of the Occupy Movement and other instances of protests around the world, the book provides a timely and significant contribution to the recent discourses and debate of public space, democracy, and placemaking in the contemporary society.
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