Social responsibility and the desire to improve society has long been influenced by the built environment. Looking at city centers, architecture has contributed to the improvement of the urban fabric, whether it being through planning and zoning strategies, integration of public spaces, or small interventions. In some cases however, these interventions are in fact used as tools to keep the homeless off the streets, disguised as art or conceptual designs. Several public urban policies have all implicitly prohibited the homeless and other marginalized social groups from city centers, claiming that their presence and “irregular” use of public space could compromise the reputation, security, and desirability of the city.
Interventions In Public Spaces: The Latest Architecture and News
Since the 1990s, copious amounts of cities in China have been undergoing urban renewal. Prompted by this state-facilitated urban redevelopment, skyscrapers are being built rapidly in major cities to attract affluent middle-classes, resulting in countless relocation and displacement of the working-class population. Such process is known as “gentrification”.
As cities and neighborhoods are being gentrified thoroughly to meet middle-class taste and boost economic growth, urban land resources are being treated in ways to increase business potential, leaving little room for the development of urban street life. Among rows of concrete and steel constructions, nowadays, urbanites are struggling to find a place to sit, rest, and play during leisure time. Analyzing five architectural practices creating livable urban public spaces, this article discusses the challenges and opportunities of urban revitalization in China under the phenomenon of gentrification.
When urban spaces become the medium for expression, protest, criticism, and defiance, the audience is limitless. Pedestrians and bystanders of all ages and ideologies become spectators of demonstrations that walk the line between art and activism and transform the city's streets, walls, and sidewalks into canvases for diffusing ideas on a massive scale. Banksy once said that "a wall is a very big weapon. It's one of the nastiest things you can hit someone with." This call to arms has rung true for many as they take to the streets in a bid to make themselves heard.