Context - Spring 2016 - (Page 18)

BY SALLY HARRISON Tactical urbanism has been around as long as there have been cities. The street vendor, the child at play, the graffiti artist, the guerrilla gardener - all have taken their corner of the city and reinvented it for their needs. Without self-celebration these urban tacticians have used the city opportunistically, finding unclaimed space, using available materials and bending the rules to accommodate needs unmet by the powers that plan and organize their environment. Perhaps inspired by these grassroots actions, the tactical urbanism movement has gained cachet in the design world in recent years. Ad hoc parks with hammocks, shipping containers and painted pallets, beer gardens, parking days and dinners in white have proliferated in the city centers and in hip neighborhoods, offering informal social gathering places for a young middle class population. Seeing tactical urbanism's success, a mantra of "quicker, cheaper, lighter" has been eagerly adopted by developers seeking to promote gentrifying neighborhoods, and by the public sector looking for effective and efficient ways to energize underutilized public space. The impulse to make the city more accessible is certainly laudable - but for whom? In parts of the city where crime and poverty isolate residents and erode bonds of community, building a strong public realm is perhaps a matter of greater urgency. Among designers who work with underserved communities, there is a keen interest in using the beneficial aspects of tactical urbanism to jump-start larger social justice goals that are often embedded in slowly evolving neighborhood plans. Targeted, short-term spatial interventions can reenergize urban systems enervated by disinvestment, especially where there is on-theground presence of community organizations that understand the dynamics of the neighborhood and can provide broad vision. Several examples of this work in the Philadelphia area illustrate how "pinpricks of change", as Jaime Lerner would have it, can deftly penetrate the surface of the complicated problems facing poor neighborhoods, by expanding the reach of community institutions, empowering young people as agents of change, and revitalizing major civic spaces.   18 SPRING 2016 | context | AIA Philadelphia Neighborhood children enjoy their new library books in the logan parklet on a quiet afternoon. pHOtO: pHIlANOMA INNOVATION: TACTICAl URbANISm IN UNDERSERVED COmmUNITIES

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Context - Spring 2016

Editor's Letter
Community
Up Close
Equity: The Intersection of Community Development and Design
Innovation: Tactical Urbanism in Underserved Communities
Practice: The Rowhouse: Reimagined and Relevant
Opinion
Design Profiles
Index to Advertisers

Context - Spring 2016

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