The Weekly Stripe – 19.02.21
What is public space? What are we allowed to do in it? According to whom? This week we look at how community-led initiatives and grassroots organisations are changing traditional and established uses, understandings and behaviours associated with, and embedded into, urban and city spaces.
These two articles by Susanna Moreira and Raphaël Besson document how, in Madrid – Spain, community-led projects and grassroots efforts are introducing novel ways of rebuilding what public space means. A variety of citizens, from a diversity of backgrounds, come together to create “Open Source Urbanism”, a term inspired by the world of open-source software. This form of urbanism challenges normative top-down authority-driven strategies by promoting community- and space-building practices that are self-managed, collaborative, and sustainable.
In this lecture, Ash Amin discusses the social life of urban infrastructures by looking at land occupations and informal settlements in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In these settlements, basic necessities such as shelter, electricity, sanitation and water are co-constructed by those living in the communities. Ash Amin explores how these practices create visible and invisible infrastructures which ultimately affect the experiences of space-building, community and the everyday.
The ‘Reversed Urbanism Project’, conducted by MIT Media Lab, looks into how machine learning and anonymised telecom data can be used to breakdown how cities are used by people. The project aims to provide a refreshed approach for how planners and governments relate ‘static artefacts’ (roads, buildings, public spaces) to ‘dynamic activities’ (movements, traffic, commerce). Traditional approaches designed the built environment to modulate how people should use space. However, using advancements in data and machine learning technologies, this research investigates whether urban form can instead arise from community and population behaviour.
This blog post and photo diary by Katherine Ball documents their experience with self-organising community groups throughout Greece. The post catalogues a variety of communities that have flourished throughout the country, giving insight as to why they exist, the diversity of forms these communities take and how traditional state-modulated spaces and services are changing as a result.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has seen a rise of self-organising and voluntary action across the UK, especially in areas where municipal services are struggling to meet demands. Becky Seale documents their experience with self-supporting communities that have organised around technologies such as Whatsapp. Additionally, this article in Wired explores how Facebook and Whatsapp groups are helping to facilitate mutual aid groups throughout Britain.