Essay: Everyday Urbanism

Pages: 4 (1013 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Urban Studies  ·  Buy This Paper

Architecture

Urban Space and Architecture

Addressing the cultural as well as the practical needs of urban communities and societies has become a growing challenge for city planners and for architects, as the growing density and diversity of many such communities and societies has led to rapidly changing needs and desires when it comes to public spaces. The different uses that public spaces are expected to serve have themselves become increasingly diverse, as well, which has led to some drastic rethinking not only in the theories that underlie urban planning and development, but also in the practical design efforts and construction implementations that take place. This paper will investigate certain emerging and evolving theories in urban planning and architecture as well as evidence of changing trends in the actual use and implementation of urban spaces, and examines an early example of these emerging trends as a point of illustration and inspection.

Everyday Urbanism

In an essay entitled "Everyday Urbanism," Margaret Crawford demonstrates how many urban spaces are actually sites of everyday public activity despite a lack of effort in designing a useful public space: "[everyday space] is banal, it's repetitive, it's everywhere and nowhere, it's a place that has few characteristics that people pay attention to."

At the same time, Crawford maintains, a close observation of these bland and "repetitive" everyday spaces reveals that they are actually quite specifically identified and utilized by community members.

In this view of unplanned urban space, there are design opportunities and planning influences to be found in existing areas and without conscious and over-arching design principles at work reshaping urban spaces or landscapes in large-scale ways. Such appropriation and site-specific utilizations -- the design/functionality aesthetic that Crawford defines as "Everyday Urbanism" -- are attempts to "refamiliarize urban environments," in contrast to design and architectural trends that lead to the "modernist sensation of defamiliarization."

Examples of this Everyday Urbanism include garage-sale like endeavors taking place in empty parking lots or along streets, get-togethers on grassy spaces that were never intended for any real use, and a variety of other undesigned and spontaneous yet specific uses.

Ecological Urbanism

Margaret Crawford's concept of Everyday Urbanism dovetails quite nicely with the aesthetic and practical movement known as Ecological Urbanism, as defined and described by Moshen Mostafavi in his book of the same title. Mostafavi sees ecological urbanism as something of a response to the "scale of the ecological crisis" facing modern urban communities and sites, "providing a set of sensibilities and practices that can help enhance our approaches to urban development."

Through these practices and sensibilities, Mostafavi contends, societies must (and are) learning to handle the increasing diversity and density that has been noted in urban environments.

This means that urban architecture and city planning efforts are increasingly taking the growing number and diversity of needs for public paces into account in conscious ways, which is a definite difference from Crawford's everyday urbanism.

Still, a great deal of dialogue can be found between the two concepts of everyday urbanism and ecological urbanism. Essentially, what Crawford… [END OF PREVIEW]

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