[Re]Thinking Cities

2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic!
new publication of The Journal of Public Space

The Journal of Public Space published ‘2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic’. This monumental publication of 280 pages witnesses the year we all lived on social distance dictated by COVID-19 health emergency, a measurement severely affected everyone’s access to public space and with it creating a range of impacts on different levels. Delft University of Technology, as a worldwide recognised leader in the field of urban design and public space, united with more than twenty universities globally to question; how can we face this unprecedented emergency and get prepared to its consequences, with specific regard to health disparity? Will public space restrictions stay in place after the recovery period? Should we just aim to return to a pre-COVID status quo, or for a ‘better normal’? And more generally, what will be the future of public space?

Maurice Harteveld, part of the scientific board, remembers how the situation induced by the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020 immediately brought together the global community of experts on the Design of Public Space; “I remember how the alarm bells didn’t stop anymore in the third week of April. Health situation worsened progressively in China, and a new decree imposing quarantine became in act in Northern Italy. Public space was abandoned there. Without doubt, we started to share local insights and form a global perspective on the issues arising from the pandemic for public space the current situation of public space.” Together with UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, this became an opportunity to collaborate to re-think how cities should be.

As the pandemic was moving across different continents and urban conditions, through shared online initiative public space experts across the world exchanged experiences of care, solidarity, entrepreneurship, academic perspectives, artistic interpretations, and creative practices of human resilience, engaging more than 100 speakers during 20 webinars from May to September 2020, and more than 2,700 registered attendees from over 80 countries, including representatives from UNHabitat. Global impact of the online initiative ‘2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic’ has been even broader by counting more than 72,000 page views in that same period. This publication encapsulates key learnings globally from the early stage of the pandemic, which stand relevant to this day when we face squarely the same issues as we step into gradually and navigate the post-COVID era.

Download full issue here

Democratic, Inclusive, Agential Cities


This article highlights the dynamics of values in our reasoning on public space. By means of an epistemological study, illustrated by examples in the Dutch city of Amsterdam, it tests the contemporary premises underlying our ways to safeguard the inclusive, democratic, agential city, and, as such, it aims to update our view on public space. The article raises three subsequent main questions: [i] Is the city our common house as perceived from the Renaissance onward, containing all, and consequently are public spaces used by the people as a whole? [ii] Is the city formalising our municipal autonomy as emphasised since the Enlightenment, in an anti-egoistic manner, and in this line, are public spaces owned by local governments representing the people? And, [iii] is the city open to our general view as advocated in Modern reasoning, restricting entrepreneurial influences, and synchronically, is its public spaces seen and/or known by everyone? – Inclusiveness, democracy, and agentiality are strongholds in our scientific thinking on public space and each issue echoes through in an aim to keep cities connected and accessible, fair and vital, and open and social. Yet, conflicts appear between generally-accepted definitions and what we see in the city. Primarily based upon confronting philosophy with the Amsterdam case for this matter, the answering of questions generates remarks on this aim. Contemporary Western illuminations on pro-active citizens, participatory societies, and effects of among others global travel, migration, social media and micro-blogging forecast a more differentiated image of public space and surmise to enforce diversification in our value framework in urban theory and praxis.

Read full article online:
Harteveld, Maurice (2019) ‘Reviewing Premises on Public Spaces in Democratic, Inclusive, Agential Cities, illustrated by Amsterdam’, In: The Journal of Public Space, 2019, Volume 4, Number 2, pp. 123-143

The Journal of Public Space is open access, contents are freely accessible under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY NC).

For the full issue: Vol. 4 n. 2 | 2019 | FULL ISSUE

Editors: Maurice Harteveld and Hendrik Tieben
Managing Editor: Luisa Bravo
Publisher: City Space Architecture / UN-Habitat

Pasáži Renesance

Prague has more arcades than Paris. Still, they are less known. This is unfortunate, because these arcades underlining the identity of Prague and the Czech Republic. This is underpinned particularly during the 1990s arcade renaissance. New arcades have been designed, like Pasáž Jiřího Grossmanna (1995 –1996), Rathova Pasáž (1996), and the redesign Hrzanska Pasáž of 1702-1704 (1996). These projects have upgraded existing arcade systems, introduced new styles, but foremost new hopes… It echoed an update on the Czech Awareness.

Throughout history we have seen this happen in the design of arcades in Prague. This particular study brings us back to the rise of Bohemian identity and unfolds an epistle illuminating an alternative arcade project. As such, the study reframes relations between design of public space and society and provides a way to understand shifts in these.


Pasáže Černé Růže (1936), by Oldřicha Tyla

Pražské Pasáže
Arcade Projects in Prague
Public Buildings | Urban Architectural Design | Contextual Assignment
as projects for people, and projects within Society

Architecture and the City

The Architecture and the City: Public Realm/Public Building research group of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology focuses on questions regarding the mutual relationship between the city and its public realm. This is a relationship that can only be considered in socio-cultural and economic context. The idea of the public realm here refers to an intermediate ‘space’, which facilitates and mediates between different groups of inhabitants and individuals; the idea of the public realm as the space of (ex)change of ideas, opinions and beliefs of the different groups of users. Therefore, the architecture of the city and its actual qualities form the main framework of this research. Within this context urban blocks, as interface between architecture and urban design, and public buildings are seen as crucial architectural elements. Their functioning and organisation are physically, symbolically, socially and economically fundamental to the city. As such they form a domain both of architectural convention and experimentation. In terms of research and design methods architectural typology, typo-morphology and research-by-design hold a central position in our group’s approach.


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Constructing the Commons

Conference
Constructing the Commons at
Delft University of Technology

3rd – 4th March 2016

Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Julianalaan 134
2628 BL Delft

Investigating ‘the commons’ at the intersection of philosophy, sociology and architecture, keynote speakers Atelier Bow-Wow, Richard Sennett, Margaret Crawford, Paola Viganò and George Baird, discuss the city, public space and social practices during this conference.
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10yrs of Graduation Projects

Liveability and Public Space in the Happy City
9th September 2015, 8:45-10:30h

Lecture

Delft University of Technology
Room: IO-Bernd Schierbeek
Landbergstraat 15
Delft

My faculty in Delft is one of the world’s largest in the field of architecture and urban design. “It is a place that is buzzing with life from early in the morning until late at night, with four thousand people studying, working, designing, conducting research and acquiring and disseminating knowledge*.” In this environment, I have supervised quite some graduates in their final master thesis, all focussed on liveability and public space. What can we learn from them and how to proceed?

Liveability and Public Space in the Happy City [download pdf]

CSI Urban Space

Given the changing characteristics of public and private urban spaces, the lecture covers a wide range of city-related topics following a two-folded target. As urban space represents the interface of communication and urban investigations, it is crucial to bring participants nearer to the concept of it, including crossing boundaries. The second part of the lecture block will deal with the role of urban planning in shaping urban space following its redefinition. With this insight, participants would understand the role of urban space and the formal ways of planning it.

On Public Interior Space

In the city today, we meet in public atria and shop in malls, we move along covered walkways and go from street to street by taking shortcuts through the buildings of a city block. In recent decades, the amount and proportion of public space within urban buildings has steadily increased, with much of it forming part of a larger interior and exterior pedestrian network. Yet, although interior public space has become an important constituent of the contemporary city and of our urban experience, it is rarely designed as such. Prompted by this disconnection, Maurice Harteveld has followed different leads to examine contemporary urban design in relation to public interiors. Through this research, he has documented in particular the urban analyses and architectural designs of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, in which interior public space is accorded significant and multiple roles. Ideas pioneered by Venturi and Scott Brown have become absorbed within architectural practice, notably their use of the Nolli Map introduced in their 1972 study of Las Vegas. Similarly, the concept of the ‘rue interieur’ seen in their earliest projects, has matured in their later work to include an internal street imbedded in a network of urban public spaces and pathways, both interior and exterior. However, although they refer to interior public space frequently in their writing, Venturi and Scott Brown have yet to describe their views on it in any great detail; a more focused examination that the following dialogue between Maurice Harteveld and Denise Scott Brown seeks to provide.

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Viva Las Vegas

In explorations of the notions of public space, public interiors are generally seen as undemocratic and more private spaces. This is based on the Roman distinction between publicus and privatus, but making public space, as a public case, refer primarily to res publica. – On the other hand, there is a related Roman public law that deals with the common interest of urban society, and could include cases of interior public space. Most sociological research in contemporary daily life reveals these spaces as public. For urbanism, this research can be seen as the social context, because the urbanist is primarily focused on the city: the civitas, and not the whole societas. More specifically, for urban designers who deal with public space, it traditionally means focusing on the outdoor space, and although this is almost always synonymous with the public domain or publicly owned space, I believe that public space can be more than this. For urbanism this means there is a need for new understanding and an extension of the design task..

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Interiors: Urbanism or Not?

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya organized the second International Ph.D. Seminar on Urbanism and Urbanization in Barcelona, from June 27th-29th, 2005. Using the name of Urbanism and Urbanization, the seminar focused on the key epistemological issue of the interface between the ongoing processes transforming the contemporary city, the practice of “making the city” through urban design and urban planning, and the research on urbanism studying them. The presented papers showed the possible contributions that researches in urbanism can make in order to develop an urban knowledge (a set of concepts, models, devices, guidelines, design tools…) engaged with the transformation and improvement of the city and the urbanization processes. Public Interiors: Urbanism or Not? clarifies the urban design role next to the architectural design role concerning the design task of interior public space. From out of the viewpoint of public space, the design of public interiors is a dismissed task for urbanist. By systematic analysing different types of interior public spaces, such as the arcade and the mall, through time, the evolution of their different contemporary urban design tasks becomes clear. In general: If the position in the city and the urban context are highly relevant, the conclusion is that the urban design task is just as crucial. Although designing interiors is traditionally the task of architects, in the case of interior public space it is therefore high time to share that task with urbanists.

See:
Harteveld, M.G.A.D. (2005) Public Interiors: Urbanism or Not? In: Martí Casanovas, M., M. Corominas i Ayala, J. Sabaté Bel and A. Sotoca García (eds.), II PhD Seminar: Urbanism & Urbanization, Volume I. Barcelona: ETSAB, pp. 219-230

The framework of the Urbanism & Urbanization Seminars enabled PhD candidates to present either short papers (ten-minute presentations for starting researches) or full papers, like the above (twenty-minute presentations in a plenary session) in order to be discussed and refereed. The participation of academia from universities representing very different contexts contributed to rich debates. Different universities contributed to the seminar: MIT, TU Berlin, U Girona, Princeton, U Coruña, USB Venezuela, SAD Oslo, Aalborg U, U Newcastle, UCL, UR Montevideo, UPC, KU Leuven, IUAV and TU Delft.