Research project co-ordinated by Vasilis Niaros. Want to participate? You may contact the co-ordinator of this project.
An essential component of the sustainability of cities is “public space” for numerous political, social and economic reasons (see only Thompson, 2002; Tonnelat, 2010). However, the main trend for at least the last half century was to shrink rather than to expand public spaces (Kohn, 2004; Castells, 2008; Low and Smith, 2006). This enclosure of the urban sphere took place for several reasons. Indicative are the suburbanization; the technologies of surveillance, like cameras, which arise ethical issues for citizens’ privacy; the gated communities containing strictly-controlled entrances for pedestrians, bicycles, and automobiles; and condominiums (see only Tonnelant, 2010; Low and Smith, 2006). More importantly, the diverse processes of public space privatization, which took place in many cities worldwide through the wave of emergent local and national politics, have led to this phenomenon (Harvey, 2006; Gehl, 2003; Castells, 2008). In addition, this privatization could be seen as a manifestation of New Public Management practices (see only Drechsler, 2005) which arguably has an impact even on urbanism.
Meanwhile, plenty of attention has been gathering around the production models enabled by the modern information and communication technologies (ICT) and brought to the forefront by projects such as the free/open source software (FOSS) movement or the free encyclopedia Wikipedia. These collaborative productive efforts seem to share certain characteristics inaugurating a new mode of production, named Commons-based peer production (CBPP) (Benkler, 2006). So far CBPP practices have been a subject to systematic research for productive fields of information such as software, news, knowledge and literature (Benkler, 2006, 2011; Bauwens, 2005, 2009; Bruns, 2008; Weber, 2004; Kostakis and Drechsler, in review). However, only a few research projects and essays (Salingaros, 2010a; Salingaros and Mena-Quintero, 2012; Vardouli and Buechley, 2012) have dealt with the impact of CBPP practices on urbanism.
In this framework, this research project addresses the aforementioned issues with the purpose to design and implement certain solutions, towards the revitalization of urban public spaces. In other words, can CBPP tools and practices (i.e. open source hardware and software) help, support and catalyze the realization of such a goal? Through various case studies of projects that will take place in Greece – a state in recession with reduced public expenditure – we will attempt to identify possible outcomes of CBPP technologies’ and practices’ application in the rejuvenation of public spaces.
We choose to follow a traditional social science approach carefully informed and cautioned by Bent Flyvbjerg’s methodological views, which try to bridge theory and practice in a way that unites philosophical and empirical subdivisions in the social sciences. In addition, the case studies will hopefully offer invaluable insights enhancing our understanding of the issue in question. It is important to emphasize that the city of reference, where all the case studies will take place, is Ioannina, a mountainous city of 100,000 inhabitants, placed in north-west Greece.
As mentioned above, this research project will be based upon case studies, which will have different points of departure but will be attempting to address the same issue.
The first case study will take place in a neglected playground in the centre of Ioannina city. Our aim here will be to revive this urban public space and reconnect it with the rest of the city, by attracting the attention mainly of children. To accomplish this we will try to transform the playground into an interactive place/platform, experienced with all senses, sensitive to the environment and full of emotionally-based experiences (Salingaros, 2010b). The means we intent to use for the implementation of this project are CBPP tools and practices.
The second case study deals with the development of citizens’ awareness concerning their behavior to pedestrians. In Ioannina, it has been observed that there is a lack of respect from many drivers to pedestrians while they attempt to cross roads through zebra lines. Therefore, we suggest, design and implement an interactive low-cost tool, based on CBPP technologies, which will try to tackle this problem in a funny and amusing way.
The notion behind these forthcoming creations is their social reproduction as part of the Commons sphere. The aforementioned projects will be designed and implemented in such a way to be conveniently modified, customized and applied in other public spaces, cities and countries. To make this possible, we will built an online platform, where anyone can view applications in public spaces around the world or share their own creations, in such detail so that they can be freely acquired and applied by those interested.
According to the current planning, we firstly intend to deal with theory-oriented research and then, having gained a better understanding of the theoretical perspectives, to carry out the design and implementation of the projects, as described above. Our estimated time schedule is three years, including the writing of at least three, additionally, papers for publication in major peer-reviewed journals.
Bauwens, M. (2005). The political economy of peer production. Ctheory Journal. Retrieved from: http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=499 (Accessed on 4 June 2013).
Bauwens, M. (2009). Class and capital in peer production. Capital & Class, 33(1), 121-141. doi: 10.1177/030981680909700107.
Benkler, Y. (2006). The wealth of networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.
Benkler, Y. (2011). The penguin and the leviathan. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group.
Bruns, A. (2008). Blogs, wikipedia, second life, and beyond: From production to produsage. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
Castells, M. (2008). The new public sphere: Global civil society, communication networks, and global governance. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 616(1), 78-93. doi: 10.1177/0002716207311877.
Drechsler, W. (2005). The rise and demise of the new public management. Post-autistic economics review, 33.
Gehl, J. (2003). Winning back the public spaces. Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona. Retrieved fromt: http://www.publicspace.org/en/text-library/eng/a006-winning-back-the-public-spaces (Accessed 4 June 2013).
Harvey, D. (2006). The political economy of public space. In S. Low & N. Smith (Eds.), The politics of public space. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kohn, M. (2004). Brave new neighborhoods: The privatization of public space. New York. NY: Routledge.
Kostakis, V., & Drechsler, W. (in review). Commons-based peer production in art. New Media & Society.
Low, S. M., & Smith, N. (2006). The politics of public space. New York, NY: Routledge.
Salingaros, N. (2010a). P2P urbanism. Retrieved from: http://www.math.utsa.edu/~yxk833/P2PURBANISM.pdf (Accessed 4 June 2013).
Salingaros, N. (2010b). Twelve lectures on architecture: Algorithmic sustainable design. Solingen: Umbau-Verlag.
Salingaros, N., & Mena-Quintero, F. (2012). P2P-urbanism: Backed by evidence. In D. Bollie & S. Helfrich (Eds.), The wealth of the commons: A world beyond market and state. Amherst, MA: Levellers Press.
Thompson, C. W. (2002). Urban open space in the 21st century. Landscape and Urban Planning, 60(2), 59-72.
Tonnelat, S. (2010). The sociology of urban public spaces. In H. Wang, M. Savy & G. Zhai (Eds.), Territorial evolution and planning solution: Experiences from China and France. Paris: Atlantis Press.
Vardouli, T., & Buechley, L. (2012). Open source architecture: An exploration of source code and access in architectural design. Leonardo Journal. doi: 10.1162/LEON_a_00470.
Weber, S. (2004). The success of open source. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.