Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Everyday Urbanism: Celebrating Ordinary Life in the City

Everyday urbanism celebrates and builds on the ordinary life and reality in a city. It doesn’t envision an ideal urban environment. Rather it explores ways to improve what already exists in incremental ways. The term first gained prominence with the book, Everyday Urbanism by Margaret Crawford, John Chase and John Kaliski in 1999. The book notes that the city (and its planners) ongoing quest to incorporate “the elements that remain elusive: ephemerality, cacophony, multiplicity and simultaneity.”

Every day urbanism builds on the concept of adaptive urbanism and looks at urban planning as a process of perpetual engagement and reiteration. It views cities as a conversation between and among its residents. This leads to a dynamic urban form that evolves not from outside pressures or plans dropped from above, but from activities that occur within a neighborhood.

If you have spent anytime in a city, you no doubt have witnessed small, understated, often ratty spaces that are teaming with life and vibrancy next door to large master planned developments that look like ghost towns. This is the impact of everyday urbanism. Vibrancy can not be planned in a board room, it needs to evolve on the street level trough regular ‘everyday’ interactions.

But unlike DIY urbanism, everyday urbanism isn’t simply a bottom up, grass roots approach. Rather, it is a mixture of the residents’ bottom-up expression of their economic, political and social preferences and the top-down decision-making process of developers and city governments. Vibrancy may no be able to be planned, but it certainly can be encouraged. Developers and city governments can help everyday urbanism survive and thrive by ending their quest for the ‘big urbanist’ mega projects and understanding that often times tiny gestures make the biggest different a difference.”

Check out the full ABC’s of Urbanism in this handy e-book!

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DIY Urbansim: City Building from the Bottom-Up

‘Do it Yourself’ (DIY) Urbanism provides a counterweight to traditional top-down urban planning processes. Even before the the “great recession” in 2008 many cities struggled with reduced public resources. This has left various urbanists, artists, and public space advocates to fill many of the voids left by the cutbacks.

In addition to participating in official processes, such as writing letters to the city or attending public meetings, DIY urbanists take public outreach one step further. Rather than simply seeking public input, DIY urbanism empowers residents to make the changes they seek and are create their own positive urban interventions. It is the DIY ethic on the community scale.
The result has been innovative do-it-yourself projects ranging from activating stalled construction sites, to constructing temporary public plazas and parks at street intersections, to designing pop-up storefronts. They can even include more bizarre ideas including guerilla painting, urban campgrounds and street pianos.

The possibilities are limitless. Although many DIY initiatives may often be temporary, the impact is often substantial. In some cases DIY interventions have acted as pilot projects that improve the chances of city government officials eventually buying in and supporting the changes in an official way.

Regardless of the type initiative, or their permanence, DIY efforts should not be viewed as disruptive violations, or frivolous novelties, but as signs of true urban vitality. With a can-do attitude and a bit of playful mischievousness, these urban pioneers are illustrating that another type of city is possible.

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    Check out the full ABC’s of Urbanism in this handy e-book!