(Smart) urban design and the use of public spaces

The Conversation has a nice overview article on urban design and lively urban public spaces, mentioning many of the well known names like Jane Jacobs, Jan Gehl, Henri Lefebvre.

The reason i think this is interesting, is that – by extension – the same line of argument goes for the design of smart urban technologies: how can we design smart city tech that spawns and fosters lively and inclusive public spaces and rich interactions, instead of impoverishing urban public spaces through what I call the dominant logics of the three Cs: control, commodification, capsularization.

When we use public spaces, even if only on a short-term basis, we are effectively appropriating them: urban designers and architects talk about “temporary appropriation”to describe the individual or group activities with which we invest these spaces.

Research has also highlighted how democraticthis can be. But it is contingent on those spaces being designed in consort with residents. When a public space, by contrast, is overly designed without people’s needs being taken into account, it does not get used.

Since the 1970s, urban theorists have highlighted that we only make use of those public spaces where we feel represented. For urban design to work, paying heed to what local people actually think of their city is crucial.

Link to article >>

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