CLAIMING URBAN SPACE
Public spaces aren't really public.
Sure, they’re public in the sense that we share them with other people, but they’re not publicly owned. There are still conditions attached to us using them. They’re made for consumerism. For example, you can hangout in a bookstore or coffee shop as long as you buy something. They’re also highly regulated; we are expected to act a certain way within these spaces.
I want to challenge the design of public space.
Cities are full of unutilized urban space — with so much potential to foster community, why aren’t they being used?
My goal is to use tactical urbanism to change the way people perceive their connection to public spaces.
A term used to describe a collection of changes to the built environment, usually in cities, intended to improve local neighbourhoods and city gathering places. It’s also commonly referred to as guerilla urbanism, pop-up urbanism, city repair, or D.I.Y. urbanism.
I set up a living space in public areas that aren’t designed for it, or that could be considered undesirable. By tackling the mentality associated with specific places, my objective was to create a way for people to enter into these spaces when they normally wouldn’t.
I set up the space at the entrance of an alleyway off Fraser St. This area was visible from the street, next to a lot of foot traffic, and relatively open, so I thought it would be a good place to start. As far as undesirable locations go, this one was at the top. It was smelly, with lots of questionable objects strewn about.
Alleyways are everywhere, and mostly seen as dirty, a place you would go to only if there was no other way around. They are also a total waste of potential living space. Imagine if these areas were turned into a clean, hospitable space where people could sit and read, draw, or socialize.
I set up this space on a large chunk of relatively unused green space, next to the sidewalk on Kingsway St. It’s bordered by sidewalks, paths, and a chain link fence. Although there are a lot of people passing by, no one stops to use this space. From what I gather, it’s not meant to be used, its meant to make that section of sidewalk look better. But why shouldn’t it be used?
I set up the space at the Northwest Corner of Robson Park. Although a park is a heavily used public space, the edges and corners are pretty much abandoned. This particular corner is occupied by sidewalks and paths, garbage bins, and parked cars. However, its still green, and under the shade of a large oak tree, so I thought why shouldn’t it be used?
After about half an hour, finally there was some public interaction! This couple seemed to really be enjoying the space provided for them; they stayed for almost 45 minutes.
(photo taken with permission)