By Laurie Schut
Tactical urbanism is a buzz word these days. In case you haven't heard about it, it concerns strategies by citizens to reshape the urban fabric. Tactics from "open streets" to "pop-ups" are changing the way cities are formed. No longer just the realm of city planners, tactical urbanism is asking people to take charge of the way in which streets and neighborhoods develop. For example, "chair bombings" are simple interventions where people take apart pallets, reducing the waste that goes to landfills, and make chairs for everyone to use on sidewalks. This may seem like a small thing, but it starts to shape the way the street is used. Soon café tables appear, then people move the chairs into a sunnier position, and voila - the area is transformed. City planners can see the need for bylaws that reinforce these positive changes.
Tactical urbanism is not new. In the 1500's, travelling booksellers began setting up informal "pop-up" shops along the seine. In 1649 the booksellers were banned at Pont Neufe, and then later reinstated. In 1789 the word for these merchants, "bouquiniste" entered the French dictionary. In 1859 Paris granted permission to bouquinistes at fixed points along the Seine for a fee, and by the 1930's box dimensions were regulated. In 2007 the area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today there are 300,000 books, 900 boxes and 240 sellers along a three kilometer stretch of the Seine.
The reason we are writing about tactical urbanism today is that it something the Riley library is taking an interest in. Watch for future posts about our experiments.
And if this topic intrigues you, you might find the following library books well worth checking out. Click on the book cover to connect to our catalogue and find out more:
And here are a few links of interest:
The Atlantic Cities
Guide to Tactical Urbanism