Why “pop-up” placemaking may be a misnomer

Marcus Westbury, Australian urbanist and founder of the nonprofit “Renew Newcastle,” believes that the terminology often used for small-scale projects meant to revitalize urban places and kick start development can be misleading.  Phrases such as “pop-up parks” and “tactical urbanism” suggest temporary fixes to persistent problems, which misses the bigger point that the methods used are the most innovative aspect, rather than the individual projects themselves (one reason why Philadelphia’s use of the term “parklet” is very appropriate).

To combat the misleading connotations, Westbury instead suggests viewing these types of projects as “iterative urbanism”–projects that are meant to be systematically replicated or reproduced.  He states that the purpose of “[iterative urbanism] is not merely to showcase ideas about what might be possible in order to influence some future trajectory or to create something that might come and go fleetingly but to introduce a process of experimentation that allows that future to start now.”  In other words, these small projects and DIY strategies are a great way to see what works using trial and error without being too costly.  Plus, they allow the entire community to become involved in urban revitalization.

Read the entire article here, on Marcus Westbury’s blog.

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