The research group of Demosspace assembled for a week at the Changing cities conference held at Syros, Greece, 26-30 June 2017, organising the panel Democratic public space as well as project meetings. The panel and the abstracts of the papers are presented below.
Democratic public space panel on June 27
Matthew Carmona and Heidi Bergsli
Paper 1 Public space in an age of austerity
Matthew Carmona, Bettina Lamm, Anne Tjetjen, Katharina Nylund, Inger Lise Saglie, Gro Sandkjær Hanssen
Paper 2 Towards a framework for assessing democratic qualities of public space design: The case of Superkilen, Denmark
Anne Tjetjen, Bettina Lamm, Peter Parker, Beata Sirowy
Paper 3 Pedestrian paths as an index and strategy for urban integration
Peter Parker, Heidi Bergsli, Inger Marie Lid, Matthew Carmona, Bettina Lamm
Paper 4 Social sustainability dilemmas in urban development – effects on public space
Moderator: Don Mitchell
Carmona, M., Nylund, K., Sandkjaer Hansen, G., Saglie, I.L., Lamm, B., Tjetjen, A.: Public space in the age of austerity
Following the financial crisis of 2008, governments, municipalities, developers and ultimately communities have had to rapidly adapt to a new reality. This new reality variously encompasses: fewer public sector resources, cuts in capital expenditure programmes, the hollowing out and de-skilling of local government, a greater reliance on the private sector as the driver of development decision-making, a watering down of public policy demands in order to attract investment, and less emphasis on engaging communities in decision-making.
Through an overview of the period 2009 to 2016, and looking comparatively across four northern European cities: Copenhagen, London, Malmo and Oslo, this paper will trace the impact of these austerity years on the provision and management of public space. This is a dimension of public policy that is rarely at the forefront of public debate and where, consequentially, cuts have been both fast and deep. In doing so the paper will journey across the place-shaping continuum from processes of design, through development, to how space is used and its on-going management. The intention is to track what has changed and what are the implications for the way we design, develop, use and manage public space today and in the future.
Tietjen, A, Lamm, B., Sirowy, B. and P. Parker: Towards a framework for assessing democratic qualities of public space design: The case of Superkilen, Denmark
Public spaces are increasingly being designed to create, communicate and sustain urban democracy. But we lack a framework for assessing democratic qualities of public space design. This paper aims to contribute to substantiating an analytical framework for the assessment of democratic qualities in public space both theoretically and empirically. Based on Nussbaum’s capabilities approach we propose a preliminary understanding of democratic qualities of public space design as central human capabilities, that is, individual doings and beings, which are enabled or sustained by a particular aesthetic and programmatic design. This requires looking for what public space design does, how people relate to particular objects and environments and to each other in public space. Guided by three well tested concepts for relational spatial analysis – affordance, affect, and assemblage – we studied a pertinent case which explicitly aimed at nurturing urban democracy, the internationally acclaimed public park Superkilen in Copenhagen, Denmark. In this paper, we outline the applied theoretical framework and relational case study method, present and discuss our findings at Superkilen and conclude with a critical reflection of the proposed analytical framework along with some preliminary suggestions for how public space design can enable and sustain urban democracy.
Keywords: public space; democracy; capabilities; urban design, aesthetics.
Parker, P., Bergsli, H., Lid, I.M, Carmona, M. Lamm, B.: Pedestrian paths as an index and strategy for urban integration
Pedestrian interaction in public space has long been held to be a central aspect of urban life and a critical site for the development mutual awareness, acceptance and basic civic coordination. The inclusion of different groups in public space is consequently understood to reflect democratic norms. Research on inclusion in public space has most often addressed these issues in relation to specific public spaces. This approach however entails a risk that connections with the broader urban context are lost.
In this paper we focus on paths of pedestrian connectivity as continuous public space and in particular focus on how such paths connect, or fail to connect, differently socio-economically endowed areas in the city. Specific efforts to develop such continuous public spaces provide opportunities to explore democratic aspects of public space while maintaining a connection with the broader urban context.
The research uses comparative case studies from Malmo, Copenhagen, Oslo and London in order to delineate different understandings that underpin urban planning efforts to develop continuous public space. The paper also aims to explore the challenges to enabling pedestrian connectivity in practice in these cases.
Based on comparative analysis we argue that development of pedestrian pathways provides a simple but powerful means of exploring democratic aspects of urban public space that we term urban integration. Moreover, we argue that an urban planning informed by this perspective would be better equipped to undertake significant but incremental developments along such pathways over time and thereby strengthening a democratic development of public space.
Keywords: public space, pedestrian paths, bicycle paths, streets
Hofstad. H. & M. Millstein: Social sustainability dilemmas in urban development – effects on public space
In recent years, the social and health effects of urban development has received increased attention. Social sustainability was for long the forgotten part of the sustainability agenda. While economic and environmental sustainability is now a taken for granted part of the urban agenda, questions regarding social sustainability tends to be forgotten or overlooked. Until now. The last couple of years, social sustainability factors is in demand by health and planning authorities driven not least by the strong focus on population health during the first decade(s) of 2000.
In the same period, compact urban development has had a definitive break-through as the dominant model for urban development. Ideally, this model attain the aims of all three sustainability dimensions through densification around traffic nodes that pave the way for intensification of plot development, sustainable mobility, preservation of green landscapes outside developmental nodes, and development of social networks and social activities. However, this is a terrain for wishful thinking and idealistic notions on social and population health effects of compact city development.
Hence, there is a need for inquiries that dig deeper into the relations between social sustainability/population health on the one side, and densification on the other. This paper aims to fill in this gap through a literature study of the social/population health effects of densification. Furthermore, as the paper is part of the roundtable discussion on democratic public space, the paper will pay special attention to implications for public space.
This is a highly complex field where exact causal relationships is hard to identify. More than giving exact policy recommendations, the paper will identify topical dilemmas and core questions to be aware of when developing compact cities.
Keywords: social sustainability, urban population health, compact city development, public space